04 December 2007

Meeting with the ABW (NSA equivalent)

I just came back from a meeting with the ABW (Internal Security Agency). I'm enchated and excited as every little kid when he discovers his vocation at the early age of eight and says "I wanna be a agent!" (as well as fireman, policeman, austronaut,... I was gonna be a teacher and a writer, never an agent.). I'm seriously considering applying there. But not today.
The pros: the meeting was with people specializing in cryptology, internet security,... And what do they do? EVERYTHING! Cryptography, cryptoanalysis, testing network protocoles,... just make a wish and do it! The have access to all the newest software! And Arabic teachers! I think ths is a place where I could do exactly what I want and I would be able to change it easily as I change my mind. I'm afraid that companies can't provide so many possibilities.
The con: the giant responsability. I wouldn't exactly want to have the weight of the world on my back, and that's what this kinda work is about. I'm scared!
Scared... But that reminds me of one thing: the only good definition of "courage" I ever heard was in a Disney movie (Princess Diaries). I was: "courage is not the lack of fear, but the conviction that something else is more important than fear". Well, isn't the country's security more important than my fear?
This reminds me of another thing: the movie "Thirteen days", when the guys wish there were some great smart guys that would come and solve the issue... but there are no such guys! Or more precisely, they are those guys! All they can do is do their best. So maybe I am one of the guys? With a solid crypto knowledge and being only able to do my best?
That's how I see working at the ABW: as a vocation. You can't do that for the money (they won't hire you). You can't do that for your own satisfaction (allthrough you get it). You can only do it for the country and doing it means assuming a huge responsability, not going "yahoo! I got a great job!".
Now a more pragmatic point of view. It's a work full time, wich means I won't be able to do it for the next 2,5 years (still in school!). So there's no point in applying now. However, it's something that I am really going to consider in two years. I need time to find that vocation in me (or its lack!) and to consider everything. Meanwhile, it's school, hopefully Google Summer of Code this summer, a part-time job next year, and we'll see the rest in its time.

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