Establishing Rapport, Effective Communication and Relationship Building – A Perfect Mix for the FBI

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Photo Courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Photo Courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

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May 18, 2024 at 7:59AM UTC

With more than 22 years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), you could say Bridgette chose the perfect field to pursue. After receiving her degree in Environmental Science from The College of William and Mary, the Bureau approached her about opportunities for civilian scientists at the FBI Forensic Laboratory. She found the idea of job stability, benefits, upward mobility and opportunities for education and training too attractive to pass up. Since joining, she’s had some great assignments, opportunities for advancement and explored new career paths. Today, as a Supervisory Special Agent, she’s passionate about the Bureau’s meaningful work, particularly getting to “actively work on the world’s most imminent threats rather than passively watching them on the news.” 

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While the role of an FBI Special Agent isn’t like what’s depicted on TV, Bridgette says her job is about building relationships with people. She gets to work with victims, witnesses, local businesses, cooperating informants, community leaders and other law enforcement. “Most FBI Special Agents may never draw their weapon during their entire career, but they do interact with their community every day to keep America safe.” Having cultivated a successful FBI career, Bridgette shares her story here. 

Tell me about the roles that you’ve held at the FBI, as well as your current one. What about this role most excites you?

I’ve held many roles, which is one of my favorite things about the Bureau — the vast opportunities it offers its employees. (See Bridgette’s distinguished list below). I’ve been assigned to six different FBI offices and worked in 11 foreign countries, numerous U.S. states and three U.S territories. I’ve conducted investigations on complex fraud, civil rights, human sex trafficking, public corruption, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), domestic terrorism, international terrorism and money laundering. 

What have you learned from the FBI?

The FBI eagerly supports world-class education and training. I’ve had opportunities to get a broad education on unique subjects from leading subject matter experts. The Bureau paid for my master’s degree in Forensic Sciences from The George Washington University. I also received a full salary while completing a two-year, full-time training program at the FBI Laboratory, and earned certification as a Forensic Examiner. After 10 years in the FBI Lab as a Forensic Examiner, I rebooted my career and became a Special Agent.

A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies. What has enabled you to develop/advance your career without job hopping?

The FBI has always offered me a new challenge, whether I wanted it or not. Each new challenge has resulted in personal growth. I completed New Agent Training at the Academy, where I had to demonstrate mastery in physical fitness, firearms, defensive tactics, criminal law, interview and interrogation and investigative techniques. 

Then as a Special Agent, I earned an FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Certification after completing coursework in biological, chemical, nuclear, radiological and explosive threats taught by leading U.S. scientists. I’m also extensively trained in crime scene and hazardous crime scene investigations and have obtained adjunct faculty status in WMD and Crime Scene Processing. 

As a Special Agent, I can retire with a pension in my early 50s after obtaining marketable job skills, which gives me options for a lucrative second career and lots of good stories!

What’s something most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about the FBI?

It would surprise most people that the No. 1 reason subjects confess is because they like their interrogator. The FBI practices rapport-based interview techniques, so nearly everything an FBI Special Agent does is about building relationships with people. The public equates FBI Agents as fast, strong men who are great sharpshooters, but the best FBI Agents can effectively communicate with all different types of people, often during difficult times, which makes this a great career for women. 

What’s the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?

My favorite boss was my first squad supervisor in Jacksonville, FL. Even though I was a new FBI Agent, his confidence in my ability to make the right decisions was empowering. He never told me what to do or how to do it but guided me through my own thought process and allowed me to find the answers myself, always saying, “Whatever you decide will be the right answer.” Under his leadership, I was honored to receive the United States Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award for Complex Financial Crimes for dismantling the largest female-run Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. 

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

That same supervisor would say, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not working hard enough.” At first, I thought this was counterintuitive since the FBI has extremely high standards. I later realized he meant if you worry too much about being perfect, you let the fear of making mistakes paralyze you from achieving success. 

We wanted to highlight Bridgette’s distinguished roles at the FBI. Please see below:

  • Forensic Analyst, FBI Laboratory Division, Washington, DC

  • Forensic Examiner, FBI Laboratory Division, Washington, DC, and Quantico, VA

  • Supervisory Forensic Examiner, FBI Lab

  • New Agent Trainee/Special Agent, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA

  • Special Agent, Jacksonville Division, Jacksonville, FL

  •  White Collar Crime Squad and Joint Terrorism Taskforce

  • Special Agent, Tampa Division — Brevard Resident Agency, Melbourne, FL

  • White Collar, Human Trafficking, Civil Rights and Public Corruption Programs

  • Supervisory Special Agent, Washington, DC 

  • Criminal Investigative Division

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate 

  • Office of Partner Engagement 


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