Many Americans have wondered what it would be like to work withthe CIA. But for 18 students at Dillard University, this dreambecame a reality when they were hired to create a marketingcampaign. Over the next 14 weeks these students will develop acampaign designed to make the CIA a desirable work place forminority college students.
The CIA and EdVenture Partners specially selected Dillard, outof other universities in Louisiana, to participate in this program.EdVenture Partners is a company that acts as a liaison betweenbusinesses and universities. They visited Dillard and interviewedstudents on their thoughts of the CIA. In addition, they conductedresearch on the demographics, academics and interests of Dillardstudents. “The CIA is trying to increase the number of applicantsand increase its diversity,” said Kiesha Fowler, a senior marketingmajor.
The marketing class, under the direction of Dr. Rita McMillan,is working enthusiastically to complete a full marketing plan thatwill enable the CIA to promote themselves within the collegecommunity. The class is divided into seven groups: Coordinator,Budget, Advertising, Market Research, Public Relations, PublishedReports/Presentation, and Campaign Strategy and Implementation.Each group is in charge of a specific aspect of the marketingcampaign.
Alicia Jones, a senior mass communications major, is part of theResearch group and the Public Relations group. “In the Researchteam we will be doing surveys and focus groups using our targetaudience, college students, to see what they think about the CIA,”Jones explained. “Media exposure is going to be the main focus ofthe Public Relations team, we want to get the word out and letpeople know that the CIA is looking for people like them.”
The CIA is serious about the work that these Dillard studentsare doing. They even gave the students a $2500 budget, whichFowler, budget coordinator, is responsible for allocating. “I haveto be very wise when giving out the money and pay special attentionto what it will be used for,” Fowler said.
Students face the challenge of finding out what college studentsthink of the CIA, and then making a plan that dispel any negativethoughts about the federal agency. Angela Woods, a junior masscommunications major, was surprised that both representatives werewomen. “I already had an idea of what I thought [the CIA] would belike, and I was all wrong,” explained Woods, as she recounted herfirst meeting with the representatives.
Woods, who is also part of the Advertising team and PublishedReport team, received a new perspective on CIA agents, whichdiffered greatly from the “Men In Black” stereotype she believed.”I never would have considered the idea of being a CIA agent. Butafter the two ladies came and spoke to us about what they reallydo, I would love to work with the CIA.”
Woods is not alone. Her classmates are also interested inworking with the CIA. “It really shocked me when [the CIA] told usthat they employ people from almost every division, not justcriminal justice or political science,” Jones said. “Being a masscommunications major, I never would have thought to apply to theCIA.”
The class is off to a great start and filled with very capablepeople. Some of the students may even apply to be CIA agents. “TheCIA is looking for fresh minds. They want to start a new generationof CIA agents starting with students like us,” explained Fowler.But for right now their focus is set on creating a marketingcampaign that give college students a motivational peak into theworld of the CIA.