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Security Clearance

  1. Jan 23, 2008 #1
    If I get a "Secret" clearance through my summer internship, will it last the 10 years as it says on websites, or will I still have to be employed with a company that requires it in order for it to stay active?

    So if I work for a defense contractor this summer, and choose to work with a company like Intel or AMD or someone who doesn't require a clearance, will the "Secret" clearance still stay with me? Or will it be gone because I am no longer doing that work?
     
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  3. Jan 23, 2008 #2

    Dr Transport

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    Clearances can remain inactive for a period of time, I believe that 10 years is the length for a secret, shorter times for others. When a clearance is inactive, it just takes a simple background check to reactivate.

    Remember that having a clearance is a plus even if you are not using it at the time because an employer can trust you and knows that you were clean and conviction free.
     
  4. Jan 23, 2008 #3
    If you do not use it you will eventually lose it.
     
  5. Jan 23, 2008 #4
    I see. So if I use it this summer, then I don't for another 5 years, all I'll need is a background investigation? Sounds like a good deal.

    Ah :( Do you know where I can read more about this?
     
  6. Jan 23, 2008 #5
    I know this because I have had a security clearance for the last nine years and all the work I do is classified...so I have met lots and lots of people who have security clearances or had them at one time. You will eventually lose it if it is never used....

    Here is a decent FAQ on the issue.....it should answer most of the basic questions.


    http://www.clearancejobs.com/security_clearance_faq.pdf

    On a more personal note....I have found working on stuff requiring a clearance to be quite fascinating.

    Of course, not all of the projects are exciting...and some of them are quite mundane, but it is really cool to see cutting edge technology being put to use. There is research on some really neat stuff out there that only a select few know about and it is very interesting when you are allowed to take a peak into that world.

    For now I wouldn't dream of ever doing strictly non classified/non military work myself.
     
  7. Jan 24, 2008 #6

    Dr Transport

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    Will probably have to update your paperwork also.....
     
  8. Jan 24, 2008 #7
    In my job description, what should I state? Can I say that I have a clearance? I've read articles online how it's good practice NOT to state what level of clearance you have (Secret, TS, etc.) but only that you have one... and that the specifics should be mentioned in the interview, if need be. Is this agreed upon?

    Also, something along the lines of:

    "Maintained U.S. Government Security Clearance"
     
  9. Jan 24, 2008 #8

    Dr Transport

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    Depends, if the position requires a Top Secret and you state "Maintained U.S. Government Security Clearance", chances are you won't get an interview. Generally if the postion doesn't require one, state that you have one, but not the level.
     
  10. Jan 24, 2008 #9
    Whoa? You won't get it, even if you have a previous clearance? Can you please explain this - I'm VERY curious as to why.
     
  11. Jan 25, 2008 #10

    Andy Resnick

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    My clearance stayed with the company. When I left, I was no longer 'cleared'. However, having once obtained a clearance is certainly worth putting on a resume. If additional security levels are required (TS, Q, whatever), the company will pay for the processing.

    That said, you will find that once you are in the world of sensitive work, it can be hard to leave. You may not be able to describe your work to a future interviewer, for example. Your references may not be able to disclose very much. Research papers you write may not be able to be included in your dossier.
     
  12. Jan 25, 2008 #11
    Andy,

    I can imagine that the job search would be a little harder. Was the transition hard for you, and how did you manage to best describe what you did when you worked with a clearance?
     
  13. Jan 25, 2008 #12

    Andy Resnick

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    In my case, the transition was not hard at all- I had only been working that particular job (military contractor) for a little over a year, and during that time only came into contact with secret information twice. Part of this had to do with the fact that just obtaining the clearance took about 6 months.

    So it was (and is) easy to describe what I did: model air-to-ground weapons systems. I was in charge of creating an accurate model for infrared sensors- so I had to correctly model the (time-dependant) thermal environment the sensor was looking at, the optical properties of the atmosphere and sensor, and the imaging properties of the sensor head itself. None of this is 'secret', except maybe some specific details about the sensor head.

    The bigger headache is from all the paperwork associated with sensitive information. Of course, there's the excitement of doing "secret stuff". Like, I could actually say things like "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" and be semi-serious.

    So, if this is a summer internship, be aware that you will most likely never see anything sensitive because your clearance will not have come through in time. In fact, if this is strictly a single-summer length position, you may even feel "left out" because there will be meetings etc. that you will explicitly not be allowed to attend. Even so, it will give you an interesting perspective and experience that you would not have otherwise gotten. Good luck!
     
  14. Jan 25, 2008 #13
    Thanks for the information. I think they hand out interim security clearances. That's what the security officer told me - she said it would be the same as a regular clearance, they just glance over your application at first to get a feel for if you will pass or not, and if they think you will in the end, they give you the interim?
     
  15. Jan 31, 2008 #14
    Website educates on security clearances

    There's a new website, www.ClearedCommunity.com, that posts news and information on security clearances and has a discussion board where people can post questions about clearances and stories about their experiences getting them.
     
  16. Jan 31, 2008 #15

    Andy Resnick

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    Yes- I forgot about that. For me, having the interim didn't entitle me to be privy to classified information- it was at the discretion of whomever was disseminating it. Some people cared about the distinction more than others. Having the interim made it possible to work in areas where classified hardware was kept; I was not informed about *what* pieces of hardware were classified.
     
  17. Jan 31, 2008 #16
    I saw a psychiatrist in the past for depression related to family issues and took medication for it. Will this prevent me from getting a security clearance in the future?
     
  18. Feb 4, 2008 #17

    Andy Resnick

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    Probably not. AFAIK, the criteria for obtaining a "secret" clearance is simply that you are not at risk for divulging information by being blackmailed. That is, if you voluntarily divulge potentially embarrasing information, it cannot be used against you, and therefore, you are not at risk.
     
  19. Feb 8, 2008 #18
    Hi, Andy, or anyone who else can respond, that'd be great:

    I just received my interim security clearance, for SECRET, which is GOOD NEWS, right? This security clearance is required for my internship this upcoming summer. My only concern is that if they reject me for some odd reason... I'll be out of an internship. I have other offers on the table right now with companies that do not require security clearances to start... so obviously, I'm a bit paranoid. I submitted the application with all the signed releases approximately a week ago and heard about my interim security clearance 2 days after that.

    I've researched the common reasons for rejections, and I'm positive I have nothing bad to my name.

    - No financial trouble... always paid on time, good credit, never filed for bankruptcy.
    - No mental conditions, at all.
    - No acts of disloyalty to the US.
    - No drug usage or alcohol usage, or anything related to it.
    - No criminal charges... not even a traffic ticket to my name.


    From Wiki:

    I have none of the ones mentioned there, either.

    My only concern is that my parents were born in a foreign country and have family there (grandparents). I've noted this - as I am required on the application... I didn't want to hide the fact that I have grandparents living there... My parents are both legal US Aliens, without any criminal/financial trouble either. As far as abiding the law and such, we're fine. Can my parents being citizens of another foreign country hurt me? The US has good/decent foreign relations with that country (it's a very small country).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2008
  20. Feb 9, 2008 #19

    Dr Transport

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    Nothing you have mentioned should prevent you from getting your secret clearance.

    Possibly, your parental citizenship or the fact that they are not native born US citizens may prevent you from getting a top secret down the road.
     
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