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Career Development Archive Banner

Bob Heald

    Greetings from the other side. Retirement life I mean. I mean to report to you that it is everything it is rumored to be - and more! Nearly everyone that is working for the Corps should look forward to the day after retirement because it is the first day of your next career. If you plan wisely for retirement, so that there are no surprises financially, then your next career can be anything you want it to be.

    The Career Development Committee asked me to write to you and give you some pointers that may help you in your career.

    First, let me say that you don't necessarily have to move to another federal natural resource management agency to reach a higher goal for yourself. The Corps of Engineers has one of the finest NRM programs in the country. It has a system of Districts throughout the country that reaches nearly every corner, geographically. Most Districts are structured pretty much the same, which makes moving around fairly easy. People like Gerald Purvis, a pioneer who became the Chief of Operations in Mobile District a few years ago, has overcome restrictions on positions thought to be for engineers only. The Corps is starting to realize the potential of the Park Ranger, who is by and large a natural leader. Starting with the first interpretive walk, the park ranger becomes a leader, and most never forget that training. The Corps places a great deal of importance on leadership.

    Second, be willing to move around. It is said that a successful person makes at least three major moves in their career. One friend (a ranger) started in Waco, TX, moved to Libby, MT and then relocated his family to NED. He since has had at least three positions in NED and is a GS12. Another started at St Louis District, moved to Hartwell, next Russell, came to NED as a project manager, and moved to New Orleans where she now works in the District office as a GS 12. Very seldom does a person rise in the ranks at one location - you've got to be willing to move around. Also, be careful what you put in your resume or SF171. Be sure to use the "bullet system" of listing your accomplishments. Don't list what you were responsible for, but tell what you did.

    Third, accept assignments offered, and get on committees, especially national committees. It doesn't hurt to mention (when applying for a position) that you were on the uniform committee or the career development committee! Also, it is so much more interesting to managers to read that a person "wrote a management plan, or wrote an interpretive brochure," and then look at a copy of that plan or brochure that you have included with your application. Take advantage of special/developmental assignments at project/District/Division and Headquarters levels. This gives you an opportunity to experience temporarily, another job and a chance to decide whether it is a career move that you want without making a major job commitment. You will also be amazed at how well your name gets around through managers talking with one another.

    I've rambled enough. If anyone wants to communicate with me further, you can e-mail me at If any other retirees want to write, welcome! I'd love to get something (newsletter?) started among retirees.

    Bob Heald

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