Haas students developing marketing, recruitment plan to rid bureau
of stodgy stereotype
The FBI is trying to overcome its conservative image to recruit more
diverse employees, and it is using students at one of the world's most liberal
campuses to get the mission accomplished.
As part of a class project, three dozen students from the UC Berkeley Haas School
of Business are hammering out a marketing and recruitment plan for the nearly
100-year-old bureau, perceived by some as an "old boys club."
"One of their objectives is to think outside the box, do something different
and get rid of their stereotypical image (of being a conservative agency),"
said student Sabine Zimmerman, 21.
The FBI looked to the University of California, Berkeley — whose students
are mostly female and more than 40 percent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
— to diversify its pool of applicants and find a way to get to "Generation
Y," the 18- to 24-year-old age group.
"You see FBI agents portrayed on TV and in the movies and it definitely
is that middle-age white male (in the roles). That is definitely not what the
FBI is about anymore," said Michelle Woodland, a program facilitator with
EdVenture Partners, the Internet-based consultants working with the FBI and
students on the project.
Although applications to the FBI are "way up," Woodland said, the
bureau is not attracting women and minorities.
"They get a ton of people with law enforcement backgrounds because working
for the FBI is really the pinnacle of being in that profession," Woodland
said. "But that's not the only candidate they need. In fact, those (people)
are not being given preference."
Another goal of the class project is to let UC students know that experience
in engineering, foreign languages, computer science and even mathematics and
history are critical skills for an FBI special agent or crime scene investigator.
Chrissy Byron and Zimmerman, students in the marketing class, never thought
much about a career workingwith the FBI because "it seems like one of those
jobs that they have to come to you, but really you can just go online and apply,"
But the project has given them another career option.
Students from nine schools around the country, including San Jose State University,
are participating in the recruitment effort.
What do the students get out of the recruiting project? Real-world experience
and honest feedback, Byron said.
With a $2,500 budget from the FBI, students will learn what it takes to research,
implement and evaluate a marketing plan. They learn about advertising by creating
fliers and T-shirts using the slogan "Investigate Your Potential"
and about how to reach out to the media by designing news releases.
At the end of the class, students will be evaluated on the success of their
campaign and the affect it had on Generation Y.
"It's really difficult to reach that group because they are not watching
TV or reading newspapers," Woodland said. "The students really want
to figure out how to reach them."
This is not the first time a government agency has come to UC Berkeley
looking for help with recruitment. The Central Intelligence Agency participated
in a similar program on campus last fall. It was not well publicized.
"There was a little hesitation on the part of the professor because of
the history of the campus," Woodland said. "They were a little worried
about protests on campus and thought there might be some sort of backlash having
the CIA on campus, but their concerns were a little unfounded."