By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

At 20 years old Taylor Wilson became the youngest person to work for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), an oversight agency for U.S. intelligence organizations. 

The Woodlawn, Md. native was hired in 2019 while working as a security information specialist for the National Security Agency (NSA). She was offered the opportunity to engage in a joint duty assignment with the senior-level ODNI. 

“I felt like I served as an inspiration for others, especially for Black people and Black women who are interested in getting into the career field that I’m in,” said Wilson. “It felt very surreal. I never would have expected myself to have gotten to that level of accomplishment.” 

Wilson began her journey in the intelligence community during her senior year of high school at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science (Western Tech) in Baltimore.

She was a part of the high school work study internship program and took a position with NSA.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in the public sector, specifically in the government. I just didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do. The recruiters actually came to my high school, and I thought it was a really cool opportunity,” said Wilson. 

“I thought because I wanted to be in the government that would have been a good starting point for me, so that’s what inspired me to jump into the internship program, but I never anticipated that it would have actually turned into a career for me.” 

After graduating from high school, NSA offered Wilson a permanent position with the agency in 2017, and shortly after she took it, she was offered the joint duty assignment with ODNI. 

Wilson not only worked with the agency, but she was also a full-time student at George Mason University. In the mornings, she would wake up and head straight to work. 

After her shift was over, she would travel back to campus for classes, and in the evenings, she led a student organization called the Intelligence Community Network, through which she exposed her fellow students to pathways and career opportunities in the U.S. intelligence community. 

Wilson graduated from George Mason University and obtained a degree in public administration last May. Now 22, she currently works for NSA and mentors new personnel for the agency. 

In the future, Wilson said she would like to shift her focus to policy and security within the intelligence community. 

“I absolutely recommend a work study program with NSA or even with the other agencies throughout the intelligence community because NSA isn’t the only agency that has these opportunities,” said Wilson. “I’d recommend them because I feel like it has not only advanced me professionally, but it has allowed me to grow personally. 

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.