CAREERS & the disABLED
» Featured Articles
» Subscription Information
» Reader Survey
» Companies Actively Recruiting
A Mandate for Success
Careers in the government and with government contractors are here to stay.
While new administrations often initiate hiring freezes like the one currently in place, they don’t last forever and one thing is certain: the government, military and their contractors will always need qualified candidates to fill their vital positions.
In addition, with a large percentage of the federal government’s workforce on the cusp of retirement, that leaves some big and exciting shoes to fill.
Here, five professionals representing jobs with both the federal government and government contractors talk about the meaningful work they do for their organizations while offering career advice that can be put into action today.
Wallace Supports the Military via His Work at Rockwell Collins
For Jason Wallace, his job isn’t just a job. It’s an important way for him to give back to his fellow servicemen and -women.
As a principal account manager, Wallace’s primary role is to seek and build new business for Rockwell Collins’ Global Joint Fires Systems division. As close coordination between ground forces and airborne or ship-borne crews is essential in today’s military environment, the company’s Global Joint Fires Systems division provides the tools necessary to support situational awareness, communication and speed for successful tactical operations.
“Yes, my primary job has been to develop business, but one offshoot of that is that I can help in educating the guys on how they can equip themselves to better do their missions,” says Wallace.
His position also allows him to stay involved with the Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) community and watch it grow, while providing insight from his time in the field, as his division offers JTAC products.
“One of the major challenges is keeping up with the technology that’s used. I get a lot of jokes from guys that I helped train about doing the mission on a stone tablet and using a chisel as a pencil, but I always tell them to stick with the basics, because you never know when technology is going to fail,” he says.
Wallace, who has a paralyzed vocal cord from his time in the service, joined Rockwell Collins in July 2016. After working for a small business for 10 years following retirement, joining the company gave him a chance to grow in the corporate world in an area of business that has a direct impact on what he did in the military.
He also appreciates the community at Cedar Rapids, IA-based Rockwell Collins.
“The people at Rockwell Collins are great to work with,” says Wallace, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years. “It’s a global organization, so I get the chance to interact with people from all over the world.”
Especially for veterans, Wallace offers this job-search advice: never sell your military experience short and be yourself during the process.
“Both are huge as you start the process. Some of the experiences you gain in the military are unequalled in the civilian workspace. Don’t try to be something or somebody you’re not. Be open and honest,” he explains.
To succeed in business development, the ability to work multiple projects concurrently is important. Another crucial trait is relating to people, having empathy for what their problems are and being able to teach them how to solve those issues.
But one of the biggest keys to success, personally and professionally, is balancing your work and personal life.
“You only have a fixed amount of time. You need to make sure that you have balance in life, because you can’t create more time,” says Wallace.
Research jobs.rockwellcollins.com for Rockwell Collins careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Glassdoor and Google+.
CACI’s Bartlett Guides Fellow Veterans through the Job-Search Process
For veterans seeking employment after the military, navigating a new world of finding and applying for jobs can be daunting. As a veteran advocate with CACI’s Veteran Support team, Robert Bartlett tries to make that process easier for veterans and their spouses.
“I help with transition and application processes, while educating and guiding the efforts of deploying reserves and guardsmen,” says Bartlett. “I also source veterans for recruiters or open positions and educate at the new-hire orientation.”
For instance, Bartlett recently helped a CACI hiring manager who was having difficulty with finding applicants for a position. “Within two days, the hiring manager had three good-fit veteran applicant resumes,” he points out. “Every day, I help veterans navigate the new world in which applicants apply and best practices.”
Arlington, VA-based CACI International Inc. is a veteran-friendly company; one-third of the company’s employees are veterans, which Bartlett appreciates. “We find a lot in common with ideals and work ethics.”
A veteran himself, Bartlett was drawn to the work to help his fellow servicemen and -women. “I like to help veterans, because I am one and I understand the challenges,” says Bartlett.
“I was drawn to CACI when I was looking for work and I consistently saw their efforts in supporting the wounded, ill and injured veterans through non-profit work I am involved in. I’ve worked for CACI for more than two years and hope to be here a long time, God willing.”
He adds: “Being a combat-wounded veteran and going through the processes of trying to reinvent myself prepared me to be a veteran advocate because soldiers always take care of soldiers. We have to do the right thing, even when no one is looking, because lives are dependent on us. The battle is the same; the field is just different. We must all do our part to help those around us. Lives depend on us!”
Bartlett has mild traumatic brain injury and is missing an eye. Stemming from both his personal experience and in his role at CACI, he advises veterans who are seeking a position after the military to go where they are loved and utilize their network to help find a position.
Universally, he also advises all individuals to work harder and do better.
“We must all try to do better every day. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will fail, but we must never stop getting up and trying again. People need us to do our job!”
Check careers.caci.com for CACI career possibilities. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Porter’s Graphic Designs Visually Interpret Technical GAO Data
Vikki Porter’s job is to turn abstract ideas and data into easy-to-understand visual messages.
Porter is a senior visual communications analyst for the health care team at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). She translates highly technical subject matter into illustrations and graphics, which are then used in visual presentations and publications to communicate the findings of GAO’s audits of federal agencies and programs.
“To put it simply, I’m a graphic designer who uses analytical and research capabilities to support GAO’s mission,” Porter explains.
Recently she was part of a team of staff from three GAO mission teams - health care, homeland security and justice, and education, workforce and income security - that developed a special publication focused on the growing concern of prescription-drug abuse and how federal agencies can help address the issue.
“I revel in the prospect of never fully knowing what the work day brings,” Porter says. “A regular 9-to-5 job where you know exactly what you will be doing every day never appealed to me. I like being kept on my toes. I also appreciate the opportunity to see my work used to communicate with the public - it has appeared on billboards and subway platforms.”
A key to success in graphic design is learning the software and maintaining one’s skills. Some degree of creative acumen and understanding of human psychology is also imperative. “Sometimes when I work on a product, I need to consider how it will be used and the audience, and design accordingly.”
The most important skill, she says, however, is the ability to accept criticism: “Not everyone will be a fan of your work all the time, and you can’t take it too personally. Learn from it and keep moving.”
Porter was drawn to Washington, DC-based GAO four years ago because of its support of work-life balance. She also appreciates that GAO seeks to create a work environment where all employees are valued, treated fairly and given opportunities to develop to their full potential. She has enjoyed many opportunities to volunteer with different groups, helping with GAO-wide events in which participants can learn new skills and flourish. GAO consistently ranks high in the annual Best Places to Work in Federal Government ratings for mid-sized agencies.
Porter is deaf and uses sign language interpreters to communicate with her hearing colleagues. Ensuring she gets the accommodations she needs in the workplace can be an on-going challenge, Porter notes, but she stresses that her deafness itself does not impact her abilities. Rather, it enhances her contributions, so long as she has the appropriate accommodations.
“By and large, my disability does not have a significant adverse impact on my work. People often assume disability creates only challenges in the workplace. As a matter of fact, my deafness influences my work in positive ways and enables me to contribute unique perspectives to my team,” she points out.
This is why Porter has facilitated several workshops on deafness and Deaf Culture at GAO, including a Deaf Gain workshop that sought to help her hearing colleagues understand that deafness can be a benefit and not a deficit in the workplace. These benefits can include adaptability, collaborative thinking, maintaining eye contact while talking and taking turns speaking.
These workshops reflect Porter’s top advice for others: “Do not get too comfortable. Always seek out opportunities to grow.”
Go to gao.gov/careers/index.html for GAO careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.
Tittle & Flores Find Their Niche in NCUA’s Office of Human Resources
Mary Tittle and Tara Flores work to ensure that National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) employees have the information and resources they need to succeed at work and in life. Both women work for NCUA’s Office of Human Resources.
Tittle works as a human resources assistant with the benefits team, helping employees with their health insurance, life insurance and retirement questions and needs. She works with managers on awards for employees, online systems, such as SharePoint and processing systems, and on-boarding and off-boarding employees, and runs the agency’s annual blood drive, flu clinic and employee benefits fair.
“The thing I enjoy most about my job is helping my customers,” says Tittle. “When I can get a customer the information they need about health insurance, correct a form that determined the employee’s life insurance, or give managers the answer they need to take care of their employees, that makes me happy.”
As a human resources specialist, Flores uses technology to help NCUA employees by managing the agency’s HR systems, troubleshooting issues, developing reports and training HR staff. She also manages the HR office’s SharePoint site, which she is currently working to revamp.
“While I was attending college, I honestly did not know which direction I wanted my career to go in,” says Flores, who began at NCUA’s HR department as an intern in the summer of 2013 and joined the staff full-time a year later.
Flores continues: “The interaction between people was necessary for me. I may not be the most outgoing person, but I enjoy helping people and socializing. Working in a human resources office seemed like the perfect field to get started in.”
To succeed in HR, a few key characteristics are required, believes Tittle: “You have to be very detail-oriented. You must be able to be research anything. You have to be a people person, and you must be a team player. You have to have a great memory and a sense of humor. And, finally, organization is key.”
While both women enjoy their work, both are challenged by orthopedic impairments that result in pain and discomfort after long periods of sitting or standing.
“The challenge at work is being comfortable enough for a long enough time to complete tasks. If I’m not comfortable, pain will set in and I can no longer work. The support and solutions I have from my job have made it possible for me to work a long time to get the job done,” says Tittle, who has been with Alexandria, VA-based NCUA since November 2015.
Tittle adds: “The support my agency provides to its employees is the reason people stay here and come back when they leave.”
While Flores would simply ask, “What disability?” many surgeries through the years have made walking, standing or sitting for a long period of time difficult. This also provides the foundation for Flores’ top career advice.
“No matter how stressful things could get, take a step back, regroup and then continue to move forward,” she says. “I’ve had to overcome many obstacles in life. Those obstacles taught me to continue to persevere and overcome future obstacles that may come my way.”
Tittle, whose first job out of college was teaching preschool before pursuing employment with the federal government, advises young professionals to be open to change and growth in their career: “Never get stuck at the top of a job. Don’t be scared to change jobs or locations.”
For both women, the camaraderie NCUA offers makes it an attractive workplace.
“One of the things I enjoy the most about my job are the people,” says Flores. “[The Office of Human Resources] is like my extended family. I’m not from the DC metro area, so moving here without any friends or family was a bit difficult for me. Even though we all have a work relationship, many of my coworkers extend that even further knowing that I do not have my family or my closest friend around me. Another thing I enjoy is meeting different people. It really is amazing how many different people you can meet working in the HR office, and they may be located anywhere in the U.S.”
Navigate ncua.gov/About/leadership/Pages/human-resources.aspx for NCUA careers. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
» Feedback for the Editor
» Request Article Copy