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How I scored my job in the U.S. Secret Service

Relentless pursuit of passion leads former Robert Morris lacrosse player to law enforcement

By Jenna Carey as told to Monica Miller

Jenna Carey at the 2019 Easter Egg Roll on the south lawn of the White House. Submitted by the U.S Secret Service.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to work in law enforcement. In my extended family, several relatives served in the military and were state, local and federal law enforcement officers.

Every Halloween, I was that kid who dressed up as a police officer walking around with my pet dogs Honey and Missy as my K-9 officers.

And not a day went by during my younger years that lacrosse wasn’t a part of it. It was our family’s sport. I started playing lacrosse in elementary school. My mom, dad and my older sister rotated through coaching my twin sister and me on our youth lacrosse teams. Of six children in our blended family, three of us went on to compete on Division I lacrosse teams.

As a lacrosse student-athlete at Robert Morris, I learned discipline, mental agility and how to work under stress. My sport gave me everything I needed to be hired by the Secret Service, first in the uniformed division as a federal police officer and now as a human resource recruiter.

In college, I pursued activities that I was passionate about. But it didn’t click with me until my final semester that I was building a resume that would help me stand out to law enforcement-related employers.

During summers and competition offseasons, I sought out paid and unpaid internships by researching federal agencies. Growing up in Marriottsville, Maryland, which is about an hour outside Washington D.C., I was aware of several federal agency field offices not far away. I would call them and say, “Hey, do you have any internships available? Can I job shadow?”

Being proactive paid off.

Jenna Carey (No. 8) suits up with the Robert Morris women’s lacrosse team in spring 2012. Submitted by Jenna Carey.

I was a two-time summer intern with the U.S. Marshals Service, working in different divisions each time. I assisted with completing and processing formal written administrative court documents such as bench warrants and court orders.

I also interned in the education department at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, where I conducted wildlife presentations for large audiences. This opportunity helped round out my communication skills, which I knew would be needed working in the public sector.

During my senior year, I set my sights on working for the Secret Service.

The agency’s hiring process was intense. Over the course of six months, I had a series of employment interviews, a medical exam, a polygraph test, and written and physical fitness tests. Then came the background investigation and an in-home interview with my relatives. 

Four months after graduating from Robert Morris, I was hired as a federal police officer. From there, I spent six intensive months at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, learning skills needed to protect the homeland. Among those skills were shooting, hand-to-hand combat, law and agency standards. And like most of my academy classmates, upon completion I elected the White House as my first duty post. It was exactly what I was looking for.

And for my next four years, every day at the White House was different. I provided security for two different presidents and first families, guided tours, Medal of Honor ceremonies, visiting congressional members, CEOs, dignitaries, as well as college, professional and Olympic champions.

Six months ago, I began a temporary assignment assisting with recruiting efforts in our talent acquisition management division. As an active uniformed division officer, I represent the Secret Service by going to career fairs, military events and community festivals. I talk to people about what it’s like to work for the agency and, if they are interested, how to apply.

There is an incredible amount of flexibility and endless possibilities for domestic and overseas travel, which I’ve done quite frequently. If there’s an agencywide staffing need, I can step away temporarily from my desk job and jump back in as a uniformed officer for short-term assignments such as the White House Easter Egg Roll or a two-week overseas protection detail. That flexibility is very attractive to new recruits.

I know how hard it can be to find a job right out of college today, and now I get to help others in their journey.

Jenna Carey is an Officer/technician in the talent and employee acquisition management division of the U.S. Secret Service. She graduated from Robert Morris in 2014 where she played Women’s lacrosse while earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a minor in forensics.