I've previously lived in D.C. for five long, overpriced years. I've had enough of talking about what I do (not to mention hearing about it from some intern in pastels). So when asked, I summarize my career simply: "I do security."
The listener is astonished. Me, security? LOL! Do I, like, carry a gun?
Moving Beyond Hollywood Myths
They have images of mall cops, real cops, that crazy character Claire Danes plays in Homeland. I'm pretty sure "security"doesn't conjure up images of a faux-health-conscience, fashion-failing, awkward, short, striving millennial with a ten-year old senile poodle and dope bronde balayage (to end on a positive note).
And that's fine. I never fight assumptions, because there's a million other things I'd rather do and discuss while I'm out and about. But now, behind a desk and under florescent lights, I have some thoughts to share. Not because I want people to expand their scope of what a person in security might look like (although that would be nice), but because I want people to expand their scope of what a career in security could be.
Security isn't kicking in doors and comparing war stories. And, frankly, anyone who has the inclination to do the former and the time to do the latter isn't somebody I'd want to work with.
Why Opsec/Persec Might Be Your Next Career
Security is about figuring out how to keep business rolling when thousands of your employees can no longer work out of the hurricane-destroyed HQs. It's about delivering medical care to travelers overseas when they're scared and exhausted. It can be designing procedures for screening guests at a gala, helping executives travel to wild locations to scope out new opportunities, projecting impact to operations from every bit of news from every nook of the globe.
At VICE, the security team works diligently to support groundbreaking journalism in the craziest places. Or, how our boss likes to put it, how to get all the wild things done -- but safely. I take pride in my work empowering employees to travel overseas with acumen and confidence, and hearing about it when they return. And I enjoy the challenges of figuring out how to continue producing and delivering nightly news no matter what crisis might come our way.
If you love the world, love travel, love people... love current events, sociopolitical affairs and research... maybe even if you just also love elderly, senile poodles... consider security. And then make it your own.
Nina Markowitz served in the CIA's Directorate of Operations. She presently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. You can follow her on Twitter at @ninaonthemark