One on One with INSA's SkillBridge Fellow, CPT Susan Lipster, USA

One on One with INSA's SkillBridge Fellow, CPT Susan Lipster, USA


This past spring, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) welcomed its first SkillBridge Fellow as an official SkillBridge provider, CPT Susie Lipster, USA. CPT Lipster is an Active-Duty U.S. Army officer transitioning from military to civilian life with plans to pursue a career in national security. INSA is an association of federal contractors that support the defense and intelligence communities.

Through the DoD SkillBridge program, Active-Duty officers such as Susie are authorized up to six months of permissive leave, while receiving full military benefits, to work with industry partners to gain both experience and training. Susie is conducting her fellowship with INSA to gain insight into intelligence and national security priorities including cybersecurity, technology innovation, security clearance reform, and the evolving space domain. After receiving the inaugural SkillBridge intern through the University of Arizona’s gateway program, INSA applied and became an official SkillBridge provider. The SkillBridge program is designed to provide a steppingstone for transitioning veterans in which they gain experience in a career field of their choosing while receiving guidance and coaching from company leaders. INSA’s SkillBridge training program allows fellows to work on intelligence and national security policy reform, initiatives, and outreach while coordinating and participating in events that host senior leaders across the IC.

Q&A with DOD SkillBridge Fellow CPT Susan Lipster, USA

Q:  What did you do in the military and why did you choose to undertake a SkillBridge fellowship?

A:  I served as an Air Defense Artillerywoman in the Army, where I gained technical and tactical skills in missile defense, C4ISR, and all-source intelligence analysis. I completed assignments in South Korea, Fort Hood, and Saudi Arabia where I supported missile defense operations of US assets. I applied to SkillBridge to receive mentorship on my civilian career path and to practice translating my military experience in a civilian application.

Q:  What do you want to do when you leave active duty?

A:  I hope to work within the national security-space enterprise. I first developed an interest in counterspace technology and space domain awareness during my time in the military. My time with INSA fostered that interest while also providing me with multiple forums and opportunities to learn more about the increasingly important commercial space sector and its impact on different disciplines of intelligence collection and analysis.

Q:  What do you do at INSA?

A:  I have the unique opportunity to learn about national security and intelligence policy issues from both government officials and the industry experts who support them. I support INSA’s eight policy councils, which address the business of the Intelligence Community and examine issues like security clearance reform, cybersecurity strategies, and management of counterintelligence risks and insider threats.  I also worked on developing two written reports, including the next Annual Report. I also develop and facilitate INSA events, including a fireside chat on the roll-out of the Commercial GEOINT Strategy with Dave Gauthier, the Director of Commercial and Business Operations at NGA and a panel on commercial space during the Intelligence and National Security Summit. I also enjoyed supporting activities of the Intelligence and National Security Foundation, INSA’s non-profit organization dedicated to address contemporary intelligence and national security challenges.

Q:  What will you learn at INSA that will help you transition to a civilian career?

A:  I think one of the most important things I have learned at INSA is how to network and make genuine connections that have helped inform my job search. This was particularly valuable to me, as someone that did not know how to narrow down my aspirations of being a “national security analyst”. I also learned, through working with the graduate student interns and mentorship from the management team, how to better translate my military experience into the right language/phrasing to ensure comprehensive understanding of your skills and abilities.

Q:  What are your top takeaways from your INSA experience so far?

A:  My top takeaways would be: 1) networking is important and takes practice; 2) national security needs positive and strong partnerships between private and public sectors; 3) our nation needs talented, diverse professionals to serve in the intelligence and national security sectors to prepare for future threats and challenges. A fourth piece of advice for transitioning servicemembers: don’t let your MOS or specialty code hold you back from pursing the career you want.

Q:  Would you recommend INSA to a future SkillBridge fellow?

A:  Most certainly! INSA is the best place for a transitioning servicemember interested in continuing their career in the national security sector. Not only will you gain experience for your next job, develop an understanding of the civilian job market, and build a terrific network, but you will also find a close-knit organization that you’ll want to be a part of for the rest of your career. INSA alumni are frequently involved in various events, and the people you work with and meet will continue to be close relationships.




For information about the DOD SkillBridge Program, go to

For information about INSA, go to

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.


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