Friday, April 11, 2014

Another First For Mercyhurst! School Of Intelligence Studies and Information Sciences Announced Today!

Tom Ridge, Former PA Governor and first Secretary of Homeland
Security, speaks at the opening of the School of Intelligence
Studies and Information Sciences
Today, Mercyhurst University announced that the Department of Intelligence Studies would be merged with the Department of Math and Computer Science and the Department of Communications to form the seventh school within the University:  The Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Sciences.

Named after former Pennsylvania governor and first Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, the new school takes its place among more traditional schools such as the School of Social Sciences and the School of Business...

(Sounds like a damn press release.   If your readers wanted that, they should go here.  You should give them a feel for what this really means...)

This is a big deal.  A really big deal.

In the first place, there is no other University in the country (perhaps in the world) that has a school dedicated to a vision of Intelligence Studies as an applied discipline, that teaches students how to get intelligence done and not just how to talk about it.

Secondly, it is going to allow us to grow our programs exponentially.  First up is a new and complementary masters degree that will focus on data analytics - so-called "big data". My own hope is that we will soon begin to offer a doctorate - but not a PhD - in Applied Intelligence.  I don't know what the new Dean of the School, Dr. Jim Breckenridge, wants it to look like, but I want it to be a professional doctorate, like an MD or a JD, that will focus not only on intelligence analysis but also on the special challenges of leading and managing the intelligence enterprise.

Third, it validates the vision of Bob Heibel, the founder of the Mercyhurst program.  Twenty-two years ago, long before 911, before even the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, Bob had the radical idea that academia could do a pretty good job educating the next generation of intelligence analysts.  Almost 1000 students have graduated from our residential, online degree, or certificate programs since then.  These alumni are today employed throughout the national security, business and law enforcement intelligence communities.

Governor Ridge said today that the nation owes a debt of gratitude to Bob for what he has contributed to the safety and security of the US and, through our international students, of the world.  It is a testament to what one person can do when he really believes in something.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Help! Where Can I Find A Job?? (RFI)

I am in the process of updating and compiling my list of job resources for entry-level intelligence analysts and I could use your help!  

If you  know of any good websites or resources, please either send them to me (kwheaton at mercyhurst dot edu) or post them in the comments below.  

What kind of links am I looking for?

  • Job links for entry-level intelligence analysts.  If you know of a company or organization that has intelligence analyst jobs on the books that can be filled by an entry-level analyst, send a link.
  • Job links for intelligence analyst-like positions.  Lots of positions within the private sector (such as anti-money laundering positions with most banks) are good fits for entry-level intelligence analysts but they are rarely easy to find through straightforward job searches.  
  • Job links for international positions (for nationals and expatriates).  There doesn't appear to be a good list of job resources for individuals with intelligence analyst skills who want to work outside their native country.  Likewise, expatriates often having a hard time finding intelligence-like jobs in foreign countries.
  • Job links for Non-Governmental Organizations.  NGO's rarely if ever title analyst positions as "intelligence" positions, yet the intelligence analyst skill set is often the best fit.

Beyond job boards or specialist search sites, what else can you provide?  Job preparation resources.  Getting a job in any intelligence position in challenging.  Any hints or tips that are particularly relevant to the intel job search would be appreciated.  What kind of stuff am I talking about?

  • Interview skills
  • Resumes
  • Social Media Usage/Presence (LinkedIn in particular)
  • Job Fairs
  • Hints and tips for breaking in
Once I get everything compiled, I will post the list here!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Want To Invest In People Instead Of Companies? Now You Can! (Entrepreneurial Intelligence)

Crowdfunding is a busy place these days.  While the largest and most popular site, Kickstarter, continues to fund a variety of creative projects (last year Kickstarter funded more creative projects than the National Endowment for the Arts...), specialty crowdfunding platforms are now available for everything from education to issues in the developing world to scientific research to, of course, porn.

For me, understanding crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly important part of what I call "entrepreneurial intelligence" - or, stuff that is outside entrepreneurs' control but is still critical to their success or failure.  Crowdfunding is rapidly filling a space left untouched by bootstrapping, angel investors and venture capitalists and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of various crowdfunding platforms would seem to me to be a critical intelligence requirement for entrepreneurs.

One of the most interesting of the new crowdfunding platforms is Upstart.  Upstart allows you to invest directly in a person.  In other words, you give them some money now to pay off a loan or to learn to code or to expand a business, and they promise to pay you a small percentage of their income over the next 5-10 years.  Repayments are capped (typically at 3 to 5 times the amount invested) so people can pay off their backers early if they make a lot of money.


Like a venture capitalist or angel investor, you could lose all of your money if the person you backed doesn't make enough.  Upstart uses statistical models to predict how much the "upstart" will earn over the next ten years based on degree, school attended, test scores, number of job offers, work experience, etc.  The amount the upstart can ask from backers is based on this model but as Upstart notes:  "Any estimate of returns is highly speculative, subject to a high degree of variability, and not based on historical experience. The pricing engine is novel and untested and relies on broad-based statistical data that may not be representative of any individual’s actual future income."

This is, however, a pretty good deal for investors if everything works out as planned.  A $300 return on a $100 investment over 5 years represents a nearly 25% annual rate of return.  Sure beats the 2 bucks your average money market fund will likely yield over the same period...