On Thursdays, Rim Country Middle School students get a peek into the world of adults and their work with the Lunch with a Professional program.
Academic Counselor Trevor Creighton has delved into his Rolodex to call on friends and acquaintances to speak with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students about possible careers.
Creighton carefully considers his choices.
“I think, ‘what would be cool for kids that is outside of what is normal for Payson?’” he said.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recruiter Kevin Zwick drove up from the Phoenix office to speak to RCMS students about what it takes to work for the FBI.
“I do a lot of elementary to college speaking engagements,” he said. “I’m planting a seed.”
He stressed to the students that the choices they make today make a future difference in their ability to work for the FBI or in many other government positions, such as the military.
“What you do now has an impact on your future,” he said during his presentation.
Zwick ran through a list of what would knock a candidate out of the running: tattoos — “Did you know a single tattoo can keep you out of the military?” — body piercings, drug use and arrests.
But the single biggest reason people do not make it?
“Height and weight are the number one reason to disqualify applicants,” said Zwick.
He said candidates must have a four-year college degree, be between the ages of 23 and 36, have three years of work experience and pass a background investigation — including a lie-detector test.
“We have a very high failure rate to the polygraph test,” said Zwick.
He said he even struggled with the test. When the test administrator asked him if he had ever lied to a friend, Zwick said ‘no,’ but the administrator said he failed that question.
“I asked to explain and said if I go to a friend’s house for dinner and their wife makes an awful meal, I’m not going to say that she made a crappy meal,” said Zwick. He said he would lie first.
The final hurdle the students would have to overcome? The number of applicants.
“In 2011, we had 220,000 people apply for 600 job openings,” he said.
After going over the do’s and don’t’s, Zwick talked about the life of an agent.
The kids got excited, until he told them that the life of an agent does not look like CSI.
“Agents work 10 hours per day,” he said, “and where you are based depends on the needs of the Bureau.”
Given all the salary, overtime and cost-of-living expenses, Zwick said an FBI agent could end up making a $100,000 a year.
Then Zwick opened up the floor for questions.
One girl asked if agents had to wake up at 2 a.m.
Zwick laughed and said only if something were going on.
Another asked if Zwick were “jealous of agents because you aren’t one.”
Zwick had a quick answer to that.
“I was overqualified to be an agent after working in the military,” he said, “But I love the opportunity to…offer a thought of career.”
Zwick spent 24 years in the Navy and also worked as a recruiter.
Another student asked if Zwick had thought of this as a career when he was their age.
He said he had no idea what he would have wanted to do with his life then.
As the bell rang and the students filed out, they thanked him for his time.
For Zwick it was another successful day planting seeds.
Lunch with a Professional
Game and Fish Officer Dave Daniels
Surgeon Dr. Patrick Harrison
Physical Therapist Scott Nossek
Payson Town Attorney Tim Wright
Marketing Specialist Joey Klien
Mayor Kenny Evans
Veterinarian Peggy Sorenson
Concert Tour Manager Steve Borges
Mesa Fire Captain Paul Liddell
FBI Recruiter Kevin Zwick
Payson P.D. Sergeant Jason Hazelo
Dentist Dr. Kristen Wade
Martial Arts Trainer Randy Steinke
Professional Chef Justi Richardson
Zoologist from Phoenix Zoo
Golf Pro Brandon Kelly
Airline Pilot Bill Krah