Working as an FBI special agent is an elite career. Most people are only familiar with the image of FBI agents as portrayed in popular media, but for Tim Bates ’06 the job is a reality. Bates has worked for the FBI for six years. He spent five years in counter-terrorism and has worked on a gang and drug squad for the past 18 months, based in Indianapolis, Ind.
When considering a career, Bates wanted a job that would serve his country. He joined the military out of high school and deployed after 9/11. After the military, he attended Central where he says his ambition to serve grew stronger. As a political science major, Bates focused his studies on terrorism.
“Dr. (Jim) Zaffiro and Dr. (Keith) Yanner really allowed me to tailor my classes to focus on terrorism,” Bates says. “Every class I took with them I was able to study the types of things that led me to where I am today. When I first started in counter-terrorism work it was very evident to me that the success I had was due to my education at Central and the political science department.”
The FBI is choosy in who it hires. “This organization is one that is full of very impressive people,” Bates says. He believes the combination of his educational background at Central with his military service allowed him to stand out.
Today, Bates’ work involves a variety of tasks, some straight out of an action film and some that are more routine. He functions as a SWAT team leader, a division fitness coordinator and a case agent. “Every day is different,” Bates says. Some days he may be doing case work, while on others he gives PT (physical training) tests to agents.
“Some days are full of adrenaline and others are spent behind a computer writing massive amounts of reports to document everything,” he says. Because the job can be something of a roller coaster ride, Bates says it’s important to have a good team of coworkers. He counts the people he works with as his favorite part of the job. “There are a lot of very hardworking and motivated people,” he says.
So what’s the No.1 question people ask Bates about the FBI? “Is it like the movies?” he says. His answer is—sometimes. He says while there are action-packed events that take place, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to arrive at that point.
“There is so much work that goes into putting a case together, and so many layers of review prior to bringing that case to a conclusion. All those layers make the job very difficult,” Bates says. “However, those layers also ensure that we get the right people.”