A Young Scared Soldier: Now a Successful High Level Federal Employee
Started at the Bottom of the Scales
My military experience as a young soldier led me to become a successful high level career employee in the Federal Government.
In the early 1980’s, I remember being very nervous about venturing out into a different type of environment—the civilian world. I was a teenager when I boldly signed up to serve in the U.S. Army. I started with no rank and at the end of my term, I received an honorable discharge as an E-5, Sergeant. My military MOS were 71L and 71G, two different types of administrative occupations. And, I served in a field unit which is where a lot of my time was spent.
In my very early twenties after the military, I began looking for a job in the Federal Government. I really had no idea as to what my real interests were. I was a young person primarily looking for employment. With very little career guidance, I took one small step at a time to learn my way into the Federal Government. My mother taught me early on to wear a navy blue suit whenever I interviewed for a job. I owned one navy blue suit and wore it to every interview. (LOL) After the second interview, I received the call of my dream. The Federal Government hired me as a GS-2, Clerk-Typist. I was so excited about getting a desk with a telephone and learning to use a computer.
Although my military and civilian jobs were administrative, they actually seemed very different. I had to learn to adapt to a different environment where woman wore suits and dresses. So, I retired my battle dress uniforms (BDUs). Because I was always interested in learning what the staff was working on, I would ask if I could help them with their work. I had a strong hunger to learn.
One of the women who worked with me took the time to mentor and coach me. And, 7 months later, she encouraged me to advance to a new job at a different Federal agency. She taught me to not expect to know everything about all things and to meet as many people as I could. She told me that these would be the people that I would go to for guidance. I still follow that advice. My observation of the older women and men in the office helped me to learn how to present myself professionally in the workplace. Things did not always go smooth and easy, but I always remembered… No Pain No Gain.
At the next dream job, I continued to meet more people which opened up more opportunities to learn. This is when I decided to seriously focus on a specific interest, and this became the beginning of my long career in the Federal Government. With every small step, I began to notice that I had started taking larger steps in my career, and then my career blossomed. I began to share the same mentorship experiences that were shared with me with others to help them learn and develop. As a result of my hard work and my pursuit to improve my personal and career development, I earned promotions.
As I remember back some 20 plus years ago, my transition from military service to public service within the Federal Government was very scary but worth it. It has not been easy along the way, but there have been many life lessons learned that have molded me to who I am today in my career and as a human being. The military taught me to identify a target and aim for it. The civilian world taught me to set goals and then work hard to achieve those goals. I clearly remember thinking about how to take the knowledge and skills as a young soldier and use it within the Federal Government. I really wasn’t sure what to do, but it all fell into place. As a young soldier back then, I learned a lot that I still demonstrate today which are: team work and support, ability to demonstrate leadership, willingness to listen and share knowledge, and respect for the position of authority. These key things gave me the confidence to "Go All The Way" as we would say back in the early 80's.