In the movies, spies are tapped. It's like a secret society. Like Skull and Bones. In the real world, you apply online. Then, after you apply, enough time passes that you forget. Then you receive an email asking you to take a two-hour test at home. Then you hit submit and enough time passes that you forget.
Then, you might get an email inviting you to their tony recruitment center out near Dulles. Or, rather, where to park your car near a bus stop. And, to leave all your electronics in your car before you wait for the bus. Then you jump on a bus with fifty other people from around the country. Then you wait in a room, then another room. Then you wait and read magazines and watch TV. Then they invite you in.
Did I mention that everyone who works at recruitment are smoking hot? Did I mention that the digs are accented in gold. That the digs are far from the austere Brutalism so omnipresent in downtown DC.
Then you're called in with everyone. They play a movie about the OSS, the history of spycraft in America, and then ask you if anyone has been asking about you at the hotel, at the front desk. And if there are snoops, this is no joke: let them know. Who knows. There was a girl in the waiting room who was tearing articles from magazines. I am sure I should have reported her. I am sure she was a plant. I bet the snoops at the hotel were plants as well.
I bet we've been under the lens since well before planting it in this room, watching movies, listening to who you can tell (your wife) and who you can't (everyone else) and how, if you aren't married, you'll probably marry someone in the same business. Like how celebrities marry other celebrities.
And they tell you how to avoid gotchas when you meet someone at a party, how to not tell anyone you're being recruited into this world and to not lie or be too specific. With my luck, they say, you'll tell someone you're interviewing at The World Bank and the person you're chatting with knows the recruiter there and would be happy to put a good word in. Be as boring as possible, they tell you, of be totally vague, they say, and then change the subject. To turn it around on them, make it about them, ask them about their life. People love talking about themselves (who else is going to really know what you're going through who doesn't have clearance? Nobody, really).
You'll get low balled on salary but offered three hours of personal training every week, as much language study as you can eat, and any degree you're willing to pursue. Also, an excellent retirement plan, a terrific credit union (Northwest Federal), and the opportunity to possible make the ultimate sacrifice for your country and your fellow citizens.
They lost me on the low ball offer because I live in DC and Washington's stupid expensive and there are companies that are willing to pay a lot more for my unique skill set.