Security Clearance Guide for Students

Many college students are eager to serve the United States in positions that require security clearances, but find the process mysterious and intimidating. JQA Society Executive Director John Allen Gay breaks down the process, what investigations look for, and how you can prepare to make it as easy as possible. Whether you’re interested in government internships, State Department jobs, intelligence jobs at places like the CIA, NSA, or DIA, Department of Defense jobs, Homeland Security jobs, or even working in the White House, you’ll need to get a clearance if you’ll be handling top secret information. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of information in the public, if you know where to look.

Sources for this video: You can find the SF-86 here.

You can find the policy guidance document that goes into detail on how particular categories of concern for a background investigation are evaluated here.

You can find Matthew Heiman and Jamil Jaffer’s “A Short Primer on Security Clearances,” which forms the basis for much of the material in this video about the clearance process, here.

You can find some more FAQs about clearances in this Congressional Research Service report here.

If you’re curious about particular areas of concern discussed in the video in the clearance investigation process, Google it – many of the areas of concern have seen significant litigation involving employees who have lost clearances, so there’s a lot out there about how the standards in these areas have been applied.

The John Quincy Adams Society is a national network of student groups and professionals focused on U.S. foreign policy, with an emphasis on intellectual and professional development. We center on a vision of a more strategic, realistic, and careful foreign policy that, in JQA’s own words, “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”