How to turn a 2:2 into one of the most interesting careers in the world

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By in Jobs & Careers. Updated October 2016.

For most graduate programmes, you need a 2:1 degree in a discipline closely related to your degree. However, one of the country’s most interesting, rewarding and important jobs is open to anyone with a 2:2 degree, in any discipline.425437_600x220px_v1MI5 is responsible for keeping the country safe against national threats. Many people might see the role of an Intelligence Officer (IO) as something reserved for elite individuals from top universities. In reality, it’s a lot more accessible than the books and TV shows would have you think.

How do you become an Intelligence Officer?

We’ve all seen it. A mysterious, well-dressed man gives someone a card with nothing but an address or phone number. The person calls the number, and within days they’re being trained in the fantastical world of espionage. Of course, real life is a bit more open and structured than that. In fact, the IODP allows graduates with or expecting to achieve a 2:2 degree in any discipline (or equivalent and permanent work experience) to apply. The two-year programme gives people the skills and confidence to run investigations that help keep the country safe.

And while the world of fiction would have you believe it’s a role dedicated to highly-educated males, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Intelligence Officer team is diverse, and full of people of all genders and ages. In fact, the organisation recognises that this is vital to the quality and impact of their investigations.

What do Intelligence Officers actually do?

One thing the movies do get right is that Intelligence Officers are incredibly important to MI5. They pull together intelligence to review the activity and actions of subjects of interests. And they set investigative strategies, making recommendations based on the perceived threat levels. While they do have a huge impact on keeping the country safety, it’s not about driving flash cars and jumping out of helicopters. Instead, it’s more about identifying key intelligence, working with partners throughout the organisation to fill intelligence gaps, and supporting the Police in making arrests.

What else do you need to apply?

Of course, to apply to MI5, you do have to be a born or naturalised British citizen and have lived in the UK for nine of the last ten years. But there’s not really a specific type of person that makes the perfect Intelligence Officer. What matters is that you’re intelligent, collaborative, good with people, persuasive, have great written and verbal communication skills and know when to ask for help. Integrity is also important, and you’ll need to be able to work with ambiguity, as decisions will never be particularly straightforward.

If you’re interested in joining our Intelligence Officer Development Programme, click here.

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