CIA enlists ad course in recruitment efforts

The CIA has enlisted the help of UH communication students to raise recruiting efforts today in its annual marketing campaign.

Cougar Concepts – an advertising course offered by the School of Communication – is helping in the campaign.

The School of Communication, in conjunction with EdVenture Partners, was chosen to participate in developing a complete marketing plan for the CIA.

EdVenture Partners is an international organization that helps pair industries like the CIA with higher education programs to help students receive real-world experience.

"(The CIA is) looking for serious, mature students with high grade point averages," advertising professor Bob Culpepper said. "Their hiring will place emphasis on diversity and the ability to speak languages in addition to English."

The CIA is searching for applicants fluent in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Russian and Turkish, among others, Culpepper said. These languages are the most needed in the CIA, he said.

Cornelius Johnson, program manager of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Career Services Center, said UH students did not have to major in a foreign language to apply to the CIA.

"It’s not important necessarily that students are majoring in these languages, but it’s more important that they are fluent," Johnson said. "For instance, they would be interested in a theater major that was fluent in Arabic."

UH is ranked second in the nation for its campus ethnic diversity, according to a U.S. News and World Report released this year, and is another reason why UH was chosen to participate in the program, Culpepper said.

"UH is the most diverse major university in the country," Culpepper said. "The CIA is looking to broaden the diversity of their agency, and that’s probably the primary reason."

The CIA has networked for diverse employees at social events. Some of those networks include the National Society for Black Engineers, the National Society of Hispanic Master’s in Business Administration and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

Leah McAlister-Shields, program associate at the CLASS Career Service Center, said diversity at UH was an important factor.

"In coming here, being that the University is so diverse, they knew they wouldn’t have a problem identifying people that are able to speak these languages," McAlister-Shields said.

Public relations senior Chevonn Castillo, who works as public relations coordinator for Cougar Concepts, said that since the program started in 2003, past successes were a reason why UH students were chosen to participate in the marketing campaign.

"We have worked with EdVenture over the past few years, and we have a great reputation," Castillo said. "We have never let them down, and the clients have always been very happy."

Some of the other marketing campaigns that Culpepper and Cougar Concepts have done featured Chevrolet, the Transportation Security Administration, the Recording Industry Association of America and the U.S. Navy."We have gained a reputation for creating solid, insightful campaigns that clients are able to use at many other colleges and universities," Culpepper said. "A good example of this is that the RIAA ran ads created by Cougar Concepts in more than 150 school newspapers earlier this year."

UH was one of four colleges chosen to work with the CIA, Castillo said.

"It’s a huge honor, and you hear so much about big schools like Texas getting opportunities, so it’s big for UH to get recognized like this," Castillo said. "It is a great class, one of the best because I can apply everything that I have been learning."

Goals for the event will include exposing students to CIA career opportunities and the agency in general. The event also intends to dispel myths surrounding the agency, such as the belief that applicants are not allowed to visit families and friends.

Economics senior Jose Salinas said he feels that the event will be informative.

"I didn’t think that I would ever be able to have a chance in working with the CIA," Salinas said. "However, I am bilingual, and after hearing about what the CIA is looking for, it sounds interesting."

Although working for the CIA can be dangerous, only the CIA National Clandestine Service is responsible for gathering human intelligence, Castillo said.

"This would be the most similar to what you see in the movies," Castillo said. "With this position, there are some dangers involved when you are doing business all over the world."

For University Studies sophomore Bobby Lewis, working with the CIA could have some setbacks.

"If working for the CIA is anything like I have heard, it sounds like it could be dangerous," Lewis said. "Having to travel and act as a spy in other countries doesn’t sound too appealing."

Students can contact Castillo at [email protected].

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