How I went from Exercise Science to working for an Intelligence Agency

Editor’s Note: Our latest guest post is by Sue Brennan who shares her experience in transitioning from studying exercise science to working in the Intelligence industry.


 

I have to hold my hand up and admit that there was no masterplan – I had never given a job, let alone a career any consideration. I simply didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. However, a good career advisor at university set me on the straight and narrow – or at least on the path to a good degree. I studied exercise science and graduated with first-class honours and two potential PhD offers.

But… I was tired of being broke. The student bit I totally loved, but I had backpacked for three years, and then held a decent role for a couple of years prior to going to university, and I now missed that income badly.

I applied for a number of ‘graduate’ positions, the majority of which I did not have the slightest interest in, and it showed. However, one role did catch my eye – an intelligence analyst – with the Metropolitan Police Service in London, and I had all the skills that they required. They were targeting law and/or criminology graduates and I had studied exercise science.

However, with my first-class honours, I slipped through the net and into multiple recruitment processes and assessment centres. I managed to land a role where at times, I honestly thought that I had died and gone to heaven (and at others absolute hell).

 

First Class Honours in exercise science helped Sue land a job as an intelligence analyst… You never know where your field will lead you!

 


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As an analyst assigned to the Specialist Crime Directorate, I got bounced around between child protection, suspicious death inquiries, contracts to kill, homicide investigations and murder review. Essential skills included being a data nerd, loving research, analysis, data presentation and writing for all types of audiences. Interpersonal skills were top of the pile as my survival in that environment was heavily dependent upon my ability to interact with and to build relationships with other intelligence professionals, police officers and a myriad of external stakeholders.

Thick skin was incredibly useful.

Hilariously, management could not persuade experienced analysts to go for promotion. We loved the work, and the idea of spending our days in meetings and becoming bureaucrats was frankly horrifying. Satisfaction came from the tangible results – the identification, successful arrests and prosecution of serious criminals. I was fascinated by how technology could be used so effectively for what was often a successful outcome (and closure for the victims). The camaraderie was also incredible.

“I got bounced around between child protection, suspicious death inquiries, contracts to kill, homicide investigations and murder review” – Sue’s career path is anything but ‘normal’

 

So, if you are a recent graduate and you are looking for something a little different, then you could do a lot worse than investigate entry-level opportunities in the intelligence industry. The process can be arduous but so worth it. Note, that the term ‘intelligence’ has been hijacked in recent years by numerous industries but the type of work that I refer to would be in law enforcement, the armed forces and specialist agencies such as ASIO, ASIC and so on.

Who knows, you might even end up working at Pine Gap!

 

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About the Author

Sue completed a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Exercise Science (University of Brighton, U.K.) and a Graduate Certificate in Fraud and Financial Crime, and a Master of Terrorism and Security Studies with Distinction (Charles Sturt University, Australia).

After graduating from university, she worked for the Metropolitan Police Service in London, as a criminal intelligence analyst.

Sue founded Writing Skills Tutoring in 2018 to help students,  business owners and others, achieve their writing-related goals.

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