Dilemma - Need Advice

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Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby batman » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:57 pm

I haven’t been cleared for a SMART internship for the last 2 summers including the one that just ended (secret clearance). I am now in my last year and have an offer for a high paying job. Financially, it is worth it to take the offer even if I did have to pay everything back.

I feel that there is a chance SMART will not be able to clear me at all and I won’t be able to work at my facility.
While I know I will PROBABLY have to pay back everything in the event they can’t clear me, it is more likely I won’t have to or will have a reduced amount to pay if THEY cannot clear ME rather than ME leaving THEM.

To wait this out, I would only find out in March 2020. To accept the offer, I have to make a decision by late October 2019.
Can anyone shed some advice on this?
Side note, is there a chance that if I submit the paperwork to leave, they can say “no”?
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Re: Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby Sisyphus » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:04 pm

Side note, is there a chance that if I submit the paperwork to leave, they can say “no”?


As much as I'm sure they wish they could set it up to be otherwise, you are not a slave to the SMART program and can leave at any time and they can't do shit about it...

but what you ARE is an indentured servant, having signed a very one sided contract that they will, with 99.99% certainty, use to invoke full repayment if you simply walk away (repayment includes everything sans summer internship stipends and health insurance - though it would seem you don't have the former to worry about).

The fact they haven't been able to clear you for several years even for a secret level clearance for the internship might tilt those odds more in your favor, but the SMART program policy is so opaque and undocumented that there really is no way to be sure unless a scenario has happened before (and I'm unaware of someone else with your circumstances).

IN THEORY, if you can't get a clearance that is something you have no way of knowing going in and so it should be on SMART to eat the loss not having done their due diligence beforehand...but if you just jump ship before having 'exhausted all possibilities' and waited for SMART to throw in the flag that could also shift things...again, this is all murky waters and speculating based on other cases and how SMART has behaved thus far.


The only thing I feel confident in saying is that given that there is an extended track record of you not getting cleared I would just bluntly ask SMART about it and be honest that you're, rightfully, worried about that falling through again for full time, what the odds might be of that and what happens if you don't get cleared. You really don't have anything to lose in that regard. [EDIT: I would NOT though mention that you're thinking of jumping ship because of it, as SMART has a long track record of trying to fuck over anyone they view as disloyal to the program.]

Hopefully they'd get back to you in a timely matter and it would give you more information to work with to help make an informed decision.


Beyond that...you've done the math supposedly on the new job and that could still work even with repayment. Ultimately it's something only you can really weigh and decide as it's your financial/geographical/employment future on the line, and it's all up to your tolerance for risk, going through repayment, etc. that determines the best course of action.
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Re: Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby boysenberry » Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:03 pm

Is there a reason you were not cleared for the summer?
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Re: Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby Xristos_317 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:42 pm

I had it from my facility and SMART that if my clearance were denied for something I was upfront and honest about, I would not have to repay anything. I was concerned from the beginning of gaining a Secret level clearance. The process for me took 18 months (August '17 - February '19), but I was approved in the end. I missed one summer internship, but was able to teach at my home university.

As stated above, you are free to leave at any time. This is the important distinction between being enlisted with the DoD and working as a civilian. You will owe money, but they can't throw you in jail.

At the end of the day, this is obviously a decision for you. I would consider how much money you would owe (tuition, fees, stipend, etc.) vs. your new salary. You should have received an expected salary range for starting at your SF. I know mine was significantly lower than my prior salary in industry, but the cost of living would also be much lower where I'd be stationed.

Good luck!
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Re: Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby asdf1234 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:30 am

Xristos_317 wrote:The process for me took 18 months (August '17 - February '19), but I was approved in the end.


Why did the process take so long for you, if you don't mind saying?
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Re: Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby malarious » Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:06 pm

You are not alone.

I have been told no on interim clearance the last two semesters. Now the first one I was in Japan, so I figured maybe that contributed, but took classes this last summer too.
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Re: Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby batman » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:16 pm

So I'm not 100% sure why I got denied because they wouldn't actually tell me.
I'm pretty sure it has to do with serving in a foreign military for a few years and living outside the country (during that time) for 4 years.

I met with an agent for an interview and they were asking me about trips on my passport that I couldn't remember taking so I doubt that helped.

I am a dual citizen of the country who's military I served in so that helps even less.
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Re: Dilemma - Need Advice

Postby Xristos_317 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:31 pm

asdf1234 wrote:
Xristos_317 wrote:The process for me took 18 months (August '17 - February '19), but I was approved in the end.


Why did the process take so long for you, if you don't mind saying?


The only thing I was told was that I was denied an interim clearance, which I learned 7 months after completing my paperwork.

The interview portion of my review didn't start for 11 months and was wrapped up 4 months later (15 months in). It then took the adjudication office 3 months to make a decision and report to my SF (18 months total).

Government is slow. I have a colleague (academic in his 50's who appears really clean) who's been waiting on a clearance to work at NIST (Dept. of Commerce) for over 2.5 years. It's atrocious. He has the job, but his life has been on hold until he finds out if he and his wife will be moving 3K miles across the country.
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