A squad of FBI agents descended on the Homewood campus
last week, unpacked a polygraph and other gear beneath a
tent and took aim at a few common misperceptions about the
The visit was aimed at coaxing Johns Hopkins students
to consider careers with the FBI, including important but
lesser known jobs requiring skills in accounting, computer
science and foreign language fluency.
For some students, the gathering outside Levering Hall
provided a chance to chat with federal agents, inspect a
hazardous materials suit, take a lie detector test and
consume some free hamburgers and hot dogs.
But for 27 students, the event marked the culmination
of a challenging semester-long marketing project. With a
$2,500 budget, members of a class called Advertising and
Promotion had to survey student attitudes about the FBI,
then create posters, T-shirts and other materials to help
alter misperceptions. Finally, the class had to organize,
promote and staff last week's four-hour campus event.
"I think they did an outstanding job," said
Baltimore-based FBI Special Agent Nathan Tucker, the
agency's regional recruiter.
Hopkins was one of seven universities picked to
participate in and be funded by the FBI Collegiate
Marketing and Recruitment Program, developed in conjunction
with Edventure Partners, a firm that matches universities
with real-world clients seeking to target the student
market. The Advertising and Promotion class is offered
through the Whiting School's W. P. Carey Program in
Entrepreneurship and Management. Although the program is
based in the Engineering School, its courses are open to
all full-time students and can count toward Hopkins'
increasingly popular business minor.
The class was assigned to prepare a marketing campaign
that would stir campus interest in FBI careers and help
dispel the notion that the agency seeks only people who
want to become gun-toting field agents. Tucker, who
reviewed the materials prepared by the class, said the FBI
targeted Hopkins because many of its undergraduates possess
the strong skills in science, technology and language that
are needed for many of the agency's behind-the-scenes
To call attention to the wide range of work available
at the agency, class members created posters and T-shirts
bearing the slogan "Not All Agents Wear Black." In one of
the posters, a man in a colorful shirt is shown doing
business work. Another poster depicts a woman performing
"I liked the ideas so much, I think I might borrow
some," Tucker said.
Developing the marketing campaign served as an
interesting change of pace for some of the students, who
are often more accustomed to more abstract class
assignments in topics involving science or English
"It's not really connected to my major, but I really
enjoyed it," said Samantha Flanzer, a sophomore majoring in
public health. "I'm getting great firsthand experience."
Flanzer helped organize focus groups of undergraduates
who were asked to talk about their impressions of the FBI.
"They viewed it as being secret and dangerous," she said.
"Those were some of the impressions we had to break
Isabelle Corbett, a senior majoring in international
studies, prepared news releases and pitched the marketing
project to Baltimore area news outlets. Her efforts led to
a feature story in a local business newspaper. "I learned a
lot about how to contact media sources effectively so our
messages wouldn't go right into a trash can," she said.
The instructor, Leslie Kendrick, who has taught
marketing courses at Hopkins for five years, said more
students are choosing to augment their traditional studies
with business-related classes. "Every year, enrollment and
interest in these courses have increased," she said.
Amanda Friant, a junior majoring in English, said her
classes with Kendrick have prompted her to plan a career in
marketing. Friant worked with Max Dement, a sophomore
majoring in economics, on the advertising campaign for the
FBI recruitment project. Dement said the lessons will come
in handy. "Advertising and marketing are relevant to a lot
of careers," he said.