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CIA Recruitment Booming Since Sept. 11 Attacks

It's a scene repeating itself at college campuses across the country.

Among the scores of companies scouring the ranks of students at a University of Maryland job fair Wednesday, the table with one of the longest lines turns out to be ... the Central Intelligence Agency.

In line, students like Stacey Richburg, a senior finance major who had planned to be a stockbroker, but now is thinking of a career as a spy.

"I think it's really neat how they can track the bank accounts of the hijackers," Richburg said. "It's seems much more interesting than being a stockbroker."

Since Sept. 11, the CIA – long lambasted by some students and even banned from recruiting on some campuses – is suddenly chic. Agency officials call the interest in CIA careers since the terrorist attacks unprecedented.

"Normally, in a week, we get 500 to 600 resumes, and since the attacks occurred, the resumes have increased tenfold," said Mark Mansfield, a CIA spokesman.

Mansfield said the agency is getting applications for all sorts of positions, from technicians and linguists to economists and so-called "operations officers," otherwise known as spies.

"It's very, very good because we are getting resumes from very high-caliber people who ... may have not been interested prior to the attacks," Mansfield said. "The more applications we get, the better."

Typical among the applicants was Mike Norris, a senior who is studying economics and government applying for finance positions with the agency.

"My sense of patriotism was rekindled," Norris said of the attacks.

Not all the applicants had just their country in mind, though. Many who visited the CIA booth had planned on careers in other fields but began broadening their job search because of the current economic malaise.

Finance major Eric Modrow said he's applying to more government agencies because he anticipates that the market for finance jobs will be unstable when he graduates in May.

"Definitely after Sept. 11, I'd like to be an agent," Modrow said. "I'm also looking at working for the IRS [Internal Revenue Service], that would probably be a little safer."

Mansfield said the CIA has doubled the number of people working in counter-terrorism positions since the attacks. He said the CIA is "absolutely determined to find out who is responsible for the attacks ... and hopefully, the people we recruit at the career fair will be working to fight terrorism."

Dennis Park hopes to be one of those people. Park graduated last May with a degree in information technology but came back to campus Wednesday specifically to talk to the CIA about a national security job.

He said he might not have thought about the agency a month ago. But now, he said, "It feels good to be a part of the government."

Capital News Service contributed to this report.