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Old 04-25-2010, 11:44 AM   #21
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If she likes Arabic and wants to spend some time getting more proficient and then using that language, and if she can qualify for a security clearance, she can get a very well-paying job as an interpreter or translator--or even an interrogator, if she's got the mindset and toughness for it. Pashtu and Urdu are also still needed. Would you guys be okay with being separated for months at a time? The big money is overseas. Frankly, Spanish isn't very valuable (there are plenty of native speakers in the US). The CIA can be tough to get into, but if her grades are great and she interviews well, she could be okay. If she wants to go that route, she should work the alumni net to see if anyone from her school is presently in the employ of the CIA. There are plenty of government jobs for a person with language skills outside of CIA--elsewhere in the intel community (DIA, the combatant commands, the Open Source Center [formerly known as the Foreign Broadcast Information Service--which was under CIA according to some public sources], even NCTC, etc). Also, USAID. As Leonidas pointed out, the private contractors (Dyncorp, L3Com, SAIC, etc) will have many openings, and these will likely pay better, be easier to get into, and have more flexibility than she'd get in government service.

If she doesn't want to learn and use a language, that's fine, too. But the openings will be a little harder to find, as she'll be part of a much bigger, amorphous pool of smart, well-educated people without a specialized, in-demand skill.

Another point--as long as you are inthe military, you'll probably be moving frequently. Once she's in civil service (with the federal government) she'll have a much easier time getting another GS job at a new location (provided there are openings and she's qualified). With a private-sector job, she may be starting from scratch every time you PCS.

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Old 04-25-2010, 12:58 PM   #22
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I would think that OP's wife is not qualified to be a linguist at the moment from what OP said. The CIA has student opportunities for people in undergrad and graduate linguistic programs, but they appear to be something along the lines of on-the-job training. They do also have open-source document linguist openings, that she might be qualified for.

Having worked with linguists in several different languages while doing wiretaps I have to say that when it comes to the spoken language, the only people I trust are those that have actually lived where that language is spoken and are either native speakers of that language or nearly so. People that don't reach that level of verbal fluency work out well in document interpretation.

Where I think OP's spouse might work well in government related service would be in the field of intelligence analysis. A well-rounded education with a background in foreign languages (and the education about the cultures using that language) would be a plus. Ambition, intelligence, some creativity, and a little courage to take a stance would make her a standout in the field. All too often I was disappointed by the intelligence products I received because the analysts just regurgitated what they read. The few good ones, who would dare to say, "this is what I think it means", were usually snatched up by DC/Northern Virginia entities, the super-spooks in Maryland, or they became agents. A good IA who also speaks the language is rare as hell. An agent who has all of those capabilities is a star.

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Old 04-25-2010, 06:48 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by timwalsh300 View Post
I'm in the military so I can't just decide to take another job. And because I'm still very junior I have almost zero control over where we get assigned or when we move. Unfortunately it puts her in a difficult position.
I'm just a dinosaur reading the military's base newspapers, but it looks like the family service centers are working harder than ever with spouse employment-assistance programs.

If she wants to keep her employment centered around your geographic area, perhaps she could get some cred as an Arabic or Spanish speaker by asking for the DoD language proficiency exam. If the base is training their troops for deployments to those areas, she could be hired part-time as an instructor or conversationalist. There's also been a need for Arabic linguists to serve as exercise participants on base-- civilians in a mock town that the troops are "patrolling", listening to phone calls or radio transmissions in that language, creating road/building signs or newsletters, and other training scenarios.

She could also hire herself out on base as a part-time instructor/tutor in basic Arabic, Spanish or English.

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Old 04-26-2010, 12:28 PM   #24
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Nords is right. There are some great military spouse employment-assistance programs now. I see it on the Navy side. I'm a CIV so don't qualify, but the active duty sailors here do. Also some GI Bill benefits are now available to spouses too.
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:05 PM   #25
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I second the idea that several have mentioned regarding government service. I'm sure the CIA, NSA, State Dept, FBI and other agencies could make use of her language skills.

Your wife might check with upscale hotels that have cater to Arabic speaking guests about concierge jobs.


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