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CHIPS Articles: In the Spotlight: NSA Technical Analyst and Korean Linguist Expert Jisoo Beanland

In the Spotlight: NSA Technical Analyst and Korean Linguist Expert Jisoo Beanland
By NSA News - September 14, 2017
Jisoo Beanland has a unique story. She emigrated to the United States at a young age and learned lessons of strength and resiliency early. Today, with over a decade of service to America working for the National Security Agency, Beanland has accomplished things she never imagined and is sharing her journey as a reminder to never give up.

Initially a Korean Language Analyst, Beanland's extensive knowledge of the language and culture impacted her career beginnings immensely. Currently serving as a Technical Analyst, Beanland explains how she contributes to mission success and why she chose to serve at the National Security Agency.

Q: Why did you choose to work for NSA?

A: I graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) with a visual arts degree in imaging and digital arts and a concentration in animation. Not surprisingly, I aspired to work for Pixar and Disney while in college. While finishing my degree, September 11th occurred. That event made me think about the serious social, economic and national issues at large. I knew my bilingual capability could make a positive contribution to society. Immediately after my undergraduate tenure I began working as a Korean interpreter for a local hospital. Applying my language ability to help people and directly impact their lives was very rewarding. I thought about what I could do in a bigger environment with my language skills and also more about the impact September 11th had on me. In all, I wanted to do something to give back to the country that provided me with so many opportunities. In 2004, I applied to work for NSA, and the rest is history.

Q: As a Technical Analyst, what do you do?

A: First, I'd like to caveat that I do not consider myself a highly technical person naturally. I have worked very hard to learn and maintain technical tradecrafts. I help define and drive the mission and ensure both technical and analytical requirements are in place for my particular mission focus. It is a SIGINTer's dream, really. As the sole analyst representing my team, I partner and integrate with other teams to get the job done and that partnership is essential when it comes to staying above the curve.

Q: Can you apply the Imaging and Digital Arts training you received at UMBC to your current position?

A: I find that training more useful than people would think. I used to develop story boards, characterization, and details for my animation projects. Today, I apply that same discipline when I approach a new task. Much like an artist, I identify the overall scope of the project (the highlight of the story), details and background related to subjects (character development, scenery, moods/sounds), put them all into context (story board) and release a narrative (the final animated story). It just goes to show you that having a diverse education can really help you succeed in your career. My degree has definitely helped me become a more strategic thinker.

Q: How does your job impact NSA mission?

A: As a multidiscipline language analyst and digital network analyst, I contribute to an important part of the mission at the agency. When I became an analyst I grew new skillsets because of the scope of my responsibilities and level of contribution. Looking back through the tours and projects in which I did not see immediate gratification, I later found out my contributions did make a noticeable impact. It is not unusual for me to receive positive feedback on reports I worked on years prior. Results may not appear immediately, but I know my work counts towards the mission.

I have also been fortunate to work in diverse fields, which allowed me to meet some of the great cryptologic minds on this planet. I continue to learn so much from my peers. The more diverse the skillset, the more exciting the work environment is for me. Thinking about it all, I feel a bit geeky and imagine us as analytic "Avengers" — superheroes trying to protect and defend the nation. We are all different super analysts in some sense. We each have different skills that we bring to the table, but as a team we are strongest and that enables us to meet the challenges that truly make an impact towards NSA mission.

Q: How have your language abilities helped your career and the mission?

A: Being hired initially as a language analyst provided me opportunities I never imagined. I was placed in the Language Analyst Development Program (LADP) for 2.5 years and that experience was priceless. Around 2008, shortly after LADP graduation, I officially became a multi-disciplined language analyst. I fully embraced that position and it helped push me towards technical realms and tradecraft within the Agency. I am still using my language abilities today. I am proud to say that language analysis has been and will always be my core skillset, and it is an important foundation which allowed me to grow professionally.

Q: Did your emigration experience impact your career in any way and if so, how?

A: Call it an environmental factor, but I became resilient and independent because of my upbringing. I also became quite good at adapting to changes. When I was growing up, we moved nearly every year and the move to America was obviously major. I went to a different school every year from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Once a young immigrant myself, I understand the woes of an immigrant's life and what it means to achieve the American Dream. I also observed and learned the lessons of my parents' generation. Working at NSA has helped me achieve many things in life, both personally and professionally. I have been an official interpreter for the former Director and Deputy Director of NSA on several occasions and collaborated on cool projects with incredibly smart people.

I have made mistakes and stalled in some areas, but thanks to my early years of learning to be resilient, I did not give up. I always consider myself to be a work in progress and an analyst who is still eager to expand upon knowledge. When people ask me to mentor them, I am quite bashful because I still feel like a new analyst myself.

Jisoo Beanland, Technical Analyst and Korean Linguist. NSA photo.
Jisoo Beanland, Technical Analyst and Korean Linguist. NSA photo.
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