Jonathan Grusing, who began his career as a salesman with a Masters in business, had no interest in joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation, only until a meeting with a FBI agent altered his goals. Since that talk 20 years ago, Grusing has thrived as a FBI Special Agent.
On Wednesday, May 18, Grusing discussed the aspects of his career as an agent at the Colorado FBI headquarters located in Denver.
Prior to landing a spot in one of the top law enforcement agencies in the country, Grusing studied business and played varsity basketball at Texas Tech University. As a sales manager at North Dallas Athletic Club after completing his Masters at TTU, Grusing was happy with his job. However, he applied for the FBI 4 years later, and did not look back.
“I was happy with the manager spot, but I have no regrets,” Grusing said.
One does not need an internship to break into the FBI, but if interested, apply through the Honors Internship program website. Even without an internship, an entry-level worker average $60,000 per year, while someone whose been in the field for a long time could make up to $100,000 per year.
According to fbiagentedu.org, the traditional educational background for an FBI agent is to have a 4-year college degree for at least one of the five FBI Special Agent Entry Programs: Language, Law, Accounting, Computer Science/Information Technology, or Diversified. The typical requirements involve 3 years of professional work experience in law enforcement, military, intelligence, or physical science.
From the insight of multiple special agents that I met along the tour of the FBI building, it became clear that there are certain personality traits and skills that are essential for the job: curiosity, self-initiative, and prioritizing.
Grusing did not intern before applying, did not complete a degree in either of the specified areas, nor did he have experience in such fields. But, Grusing felt as if his self-initiative and focus helped to pave his journey. In the special agent’s point of view, life experience of doing what you love is more important than education when applying for the FBI.
“Get experience. The more you can put on your resume, the better chance you have of getting in,” said Grusing.
However, even with experience, the gate to actually make it into the agency is rather narrow, as Grusing explained. But when (or if) you makes it through, the freedoms and opportunities to work in your interests are almost endless.
Among the narrow gates involve the mandatory fitness test when applying. Grusing described the test to be comprised of agents having to complete a certain amount of sit-ups and push-ups within a time limit, run multiple 300 meter sprints, then run 1 ½ miles under the desired time. The times and amounts differ among age groups due to the fact that agents must complete this test once every year.
The fitness test is not the only gateway of entry, and is followed by a polygraph test and background check on all applicants.
“The polygraph test is pretty easy if you have nothing to hide,” Grusing said. “Only a sociopath could lie through one and pass.”
Grusing was subject to the application process for over a year and experienced a 10-step process to eventually make it through. After such steps, Grusing was sent to Quantico, Virginia for a 5-month training period before being deployed to the random location of Colorado to start his career.
Now as an agent of public corruption and behavioral analysis, Grusing drives his stereotypical FBI-issued black Impala to the Colorado headquarters 5 days-a-week, all the while holstering a .40 caliber pistol. The hours can differ though, whereas he works at least 50 hours-a-day along with sporadic unpaid overtime hours.
Unpaid overtime might seem like a flaw of the job, but Grusing defends the agency by exposing the rare perks provided to the agents.
“You get healthcare for life,” Grusing explained. “I could also retire comfortably in a couple years, not that I’m thinking about it.”
The typical day for Grusing is rather atypical; every day is different. The agent has an agenda each day which he attempts to complete, but once he is called to work the case of a crime, he is expected to drop everything and do what he was trained to do. The fact that anything could happen each day is what Grusing says keeps him young and excited to go to work every day.
Along with the autonomy and variety of the job, Grusing enjoys how the FBI brings in so many diverse people with such diverse expertise to come together and work on a mission. However, there are aspects of the agency that hold the special agents back.
“All the bureaucracy of getting stuff done is so slow and frustrating. If you’re not in the field, you are doing tedious paperwork,” Grusing said.
Grusing was a member of the bank robbery unit for 10 years, which offered many exciting arrests according to the special agent.
“I’ve arrested an Adams County Sheriff, a law student, a real estate agent, a track star,” Grusing explained. “I’ve dealt with every kind of criminal.”
One of his most satisfying cases involved the arrest of a criminal for stealing over $1 million from a bank. Another memorable case Grusing described was the arrest of a serial killer, resulting in the closure among 4 of the victimized families.
Although, Grusing explained how the unpredictable hours and bulk of cases has limited his family time and social life outside the job. He takes advantage of his off-time by coaching his son’s high-school basketball team every day after work.
“The job has for sure taken me away from my other life. It takes a toll on you through the years,” Grusing added.