My transition from Air Force Officer to civilian was a challenge. I had been wearing the uniform since I was 17. My father and both of my brothers also wore the uniform, and I had no idea how to job search, or where to start.
Last year at age 27, I found myself in a whirlwind of transition. I completed my final Air Force assignment on the island of Guam, moved almost 8,000 miles to Washington, D.C., became a newlywed military Spouse, and started searching for meaningful work outside of the only career I ever knew.
I went to career fairs, both small and large. I went to generic ones for spouses, as well as more specialized ones for Service Academy graduates. I interviewed for jobs in retail. I spent one day canvassing for non-profit causes. None of them felt like they fit.
After a few challenging months, my brother-in-law told me about a part-time position opening up in his federal agency, the U.S. International Trade Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce. I applied, and had the good fortune that a fellow veteran was the hiring manager. He could relate to the frustration I felt in not being able to translate my skills into civilian positions. I'm grateful for his patience in helping me understand the Federal hiring process, and ultimately for helping me to transition into the organization and into my new job.
After months of searching, I had finally landed a new job! But then, on the same week that I started my new position, my husband received orders to Ketchikan, Alaska. All the effort I had put into getting a job, and all of the effort my new office had put into hiring me; it seemed like all of it would amount to nothing. But, instead of parting ways, my new colleagues at the ITA helped me keep my job and work remotely from Alaska. Since then, I have been able to remain an active member of the team. I still contribute to projects and assignments, though now I get to enjoy the picturesque scenery and occasional bald eagle soaring past my window as I work.
ITA has provided me with myriad ways to leverage my strengths. From facilitating a leadership development group, to teaching a resilience breakout session at our annual employee training and development day, ITA has helped me to channel the experiences I had in the Air Force and create a positive impact on my new civilian colleagues. I feel honored to be among such a diverse group of dedicated professionals, and I am honored to continue serving my country and contribute once more to a common mission and goal.