Many people go through the course of their careers without any realization that there are doorways to success that a person either has to sneak through, open, or on occasion, kick down. Certain career opportunities will only come if you remain situationally aware. For example, if your expertise can be used at one of the labs for a short period of time, you may have that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to test yourself in that venue. Team members have to keep their heads up and make it known that they want, and perhaps more importantly deserve, a variety of experiences.
Some of the opportunities that can help provide you the pathway toward a more successful and fulfilling career are listed below.
HQ Career Assignment Program (CAP)
The Career Assignment Program (CAP) within the HQUSACE Operations-Natural Resources Management Community of Practice (NRM CoP) is designed to provide opportunities for career assignments at the GS 9-14 staff or Section Chief level. There are generally two 5-month assignments per year. Participants in CAP may be involved in all facets of the NRM CoP functions including budgeting, drafting policy, developing or reviewing regulations, preparing executive briefing and information papers, participating in interagency coordination, and preparing responses to Congressional, White House, or public queries relating to the Corps NRM program.
Past participants have said the following about their experience in the CAP:
(authored by Christina E. (Chris) Correale, Chief, Operations Division, Baltimore District -- The full text of "Mentoring" can be found at Good Enough to Share)
You need a mentor because a mentoring relationship will help you learn more in a shorter period of time than doing it on your own. A mentoring relationship may help you learn:
- Your technical competency area.
- How things get done within your organization.
- How the environment your organization operates in affects decisions and decision makers.
- How to get ahead, etc.
(authored by Cori Brown, Outdoor Recreation Planner, Baltimore District -- The full text of "Details" can be found at Good Enough to Share)
Ms. Brown started her career in the Corps with the Pittsburgh District as a co-operative education student. She later transferred to the Baltimore District as an Outdoor Recreation Planner. She recently chaired an interpretive team to develop exhibits at the new Raystown Lake Visitor Center. She's an avid bird watcher and participates in citizen science projects with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Did you ever wake up one morning saying to yourself:
- What am I doing here?
- Why do I feel so burnt out on my job?
- Is my boss an alien?
- Is there more to life than Podunk Lake?
Fortunately, all of these questions have intelligent answers, except for maybe the alien boss. We'll leave that one to the interpretive types!
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, it might be time to step out of the warm and fuzzy comfort zone you're in and take on a developmental assignment. I know what you're thinking: Where do I start? Who do I talk to? What else can I do besides being the best ranger east and west of the Mississippi?
The NRM group has several standing national committees and forms a multitude of task forces. Business is handled this way for a couple of reasons. HQ cannot manage the present workload with existing staffing, and a committee and/or task force represents a broader range of views from many different people. National committees and task force opportunities can be great stepping stones in a young career. First of all, things are seen and discussed from a national, rather than a local and/or regional perspective. As this happens, team members can begin to understand the ripple effect of impacts and processes behind decisions. Perhaps an even better reason is networking. A team member gets to work with other people across the Corps, many who make decisions concerning hiring. A "can-do" individual on a committee or task force catches the eye of fellow committee members.
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