Jordan Rae Kelly, the Chief of Staff for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Cyber Division and an alumna of Wake Forest class of 2005, came to campus Monday, Sept. 26 to give a presentation entitled “The FBI’s Cyber Division: Addressing Cyber Threats to our Nation.”
The FBI was recently ranked fifth by Forbes in their list of “Top Companies Where Millennials Most Want to Work.” There is a summer internship program which Kelly was encouraging students to apply to, for the summer following students’ senior year.
“We’re looking for a variety of people. They really want interdisciplinary people, which Wake Forest is perfect for,” Kelly said. “I would say study literally anything you like, but just really love it, and really be a passionate, honest person with a lot of integrity.”
Kelly also emphasized the importance of students taking advantage of the liberal arts education available to them, referencing how her combination of skills in both computer science and communication proved valuable once she entered the job field after law school.
“The ability to be technical is so important, but it’s also so critical that you can take those skills and you can translate them to other people. That’s important in the cyber world for a lot of reasons … there’s just so many opportunities where you have to convey your thoughts, either in written or oral speech,” Kelly said. “Spend some time honing those skills, while you have the opportunity here at Wake Forest. Having strong communication skills really shows clarity of thought.”
While at Wake Forest for her undergraduate degree, Kelly double majored in English and communications, while also studying computer science as an unofficial minor. She wrote for the Old Gold & Black, was a member of Tri Delta sorority and played for the club golf team.
“Ms. Kelly seemed very similar to me in that she had a lot of interests in different areas in college. Yet, she found a job that makes her excited to go to work everyday,” said sophomore Carolyn Roberts. “I took away that if you put in the hard work, have a positive attitude and a strong drive, you’ll find a job that is perfect for you.”
Kelly had not originally imagined herself working for the FBI, but now said that she loves her job, which integrates both sides of her liberal arts background.
“It doesn’t feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but every job feels like you are making an impact,” she said. “There is no other place where you can get a mission like the FBI.”
Sophomore Riley Mistrot admired Kelly’s success in the bureau, commenting that her drive for success is not atypical of Wake Forest students and alumni.
“I like the fact that she was from Wake Forest and seemed to have moved up quickly in her department, because she was smart and articulate and worked hard,” said Mistrot. “I think those are characteristics that are still prevalent in our student body today.”