One day a random question changed the course of my life. It was nearing the end of summer and a awesome colleague with a few more years of government service than I asked, “what are you going to do after your summer hire term ends”? Again, I had no idea. At that moment, she influenced what turned into a 30+ year career for me. She said, “apply for one of those Finance & Accounting jobs and get your foot in the door”. So I did.
I applied for a GS-03, Voucher Examiner position. Mind you I had no idea what a voucher was or what we examined. I was selected for the position and joined yet another fabulous family– the F&A family. In this position I had the great opportunity to learn how everything gets paid in the government. The employees paychecks, the travel reimbursements, and the invoices. After a year (the required time served in grade to qualify for the next level) I was promoted to a GS-04.
A great thing about government is there are typically always new job opportunities surfacing. In the “weekly bulletin” I saw a GS-05 Procurement Assistant position advertised. Again, I had no idea what Procurement was or how or who I would be assisting but I applied for the position and was selected. Yay another promotion! I then joined the totally awesome Contracting (aka Procurement) family where my career took root and really blossomed. After performing at the GS-05 level for the minimum required time in the position I was promoted to a GS-06.
As a Procurement Assistant I learned about government contracting procedures, regulations, funding types, and reporting requirements. This position had the potential to go in a few directions- a contract specialist, a procurement analyst or a cost-price analyst. I was certainly well positioned to pursue any of them. However, it went in a completely different direction. I was working along side a phenomenal colleague named Jill, who generously shared her knowledge and expertise with me. She taught me what a mainframe database was and how to program in natural language, how to analyze data in the database and prepare reports that were used to measure contracting activity.
Along came personal computers and our mainframe was being decommissioned. A major shift in technology was occurring right before our eyes. A new Standard Contracting Computer System came along at the same time a new Local Area Network (LAN) and over 100 personal computers were being delivered. Both needed to be configured and set up. A divide and conquer approach was decided- -she took on the UNIX system and I took on the configuration and roll-out of the LAN and personal computers. My career then shifted to a more IT type position. I learned via OJT (on the job training) how to set up a LAN, install and configure software, set up FTP site, system administration, and troubleshoot PC malfunctions. I took full advantage of the opportunity to learn and develop my IT skills.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton