Intern values lessons learned at Fort Riley DOL
August 27, 2010
FORT RILEY, Kan. - While Dewayne Price was attending grad school in Georgia, the 26-year-old said he never thought he would be working in the civil-service sector.
Price is currently working as a logistics management specialist intern for Fort Riley's Directorate of Logistics.
"When I graduated with my bachelor's degree in public relations, I was good at writing, so that's why I did that, but I wanted to get a government job - it's just that it is so competitive," he said. "Instead of wasting time, I just started grad school."
Price's break came, when in 2008, an acquaintance, who also is the deputy director of DOL at Fort Stewart, Ga., told him about an intern program through the Department of the Army's Civilian Logistics Career Management Office. Price applied and was accepted into the program in 2009.
CLCMO hires and trains logistic management specialists under the Federal Career Intern Program, according to its website. Applicants who have a bachelor's degree are considered with a GPA of 2.95 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or if the applicant graduated in the top 30 percent of his or her undergraduate class.
Entry level for the program is as a GS-7, Price said, with promotion to GS-9 after 12 successful months of performance. Candidates can then qualify for a promotion to GS-11 after another 12 months of successful performance.
The field of activity for interns encompasses functional planning, deployment operations, maintenance operations, procurement, coordination and control of the movement of personnel, personal property and materiel on commercial and military transport via rail, air, land and sea.
"They train and develop civilian logisticians for the military to help support the war fighter. That consists of an 18-month program," Price said. "(During that time), we take a bunch of classroom training; we go (on temporary duty) - usually it's twice, from eight to 12 weeks - we go to a non-Army installation, and then we will work at a DOL. So they try to give us both sides. Really what they want to do is try to give us a broad foundation for when we actually go to our first assignment."
Price will graduate from the program Sept. 30. Following graduation, Price's first duty station is at the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command in Beaumont, Texas.
Since starting the program in 2009, Price has been TDY three times - once to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, where he worked for the SDDC Fusion Center; an 11-week non-Army TDY to Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, where he worked in air terminal operations with the 437th Aerial Port Squadron; and lastly, Fort Riley, where he has interned with DOL since July 26.
Price will leave Fort Riley Sept. 4 to help with the railhead upload at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., before heading back to Fort Eustis, Va., for more classes before graduating.
Since working with DOL at Fort Riley, Price has been busy loading and ground guiding railroad cars at the railhead for two brigades, which deployed to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and JRTC at Fort Polk, respectively.
"Since I have been here, I got kind of lucky because they're really busy. They've got people coming back from deployment, and then they have two brigades that are getting deployed, almost at the same time it seems like," Price said. "Right when I got here, they were really busy on the railhead loading rail cars. So I was out there helping ground guide, setting up spanners - little metal bridges they put in between the rail cars so they can drive the vehicles across."
Price also was assigned a project to track down costs for replacement spanners for DOL, a project which, according to Price's supervisor, Dick Wollenberg, transportation officer with DOL, should have been way above the intern's level of knowledge, but it wasn't.
"I gave him a fairly difficult project for an intern to accomplish - that was to locate the sources and develop the specifications for an additional 100 of them (spanners)," Wollenberg said. "He put together a very comprehensive package that identified potential sources and specs that we required. That package is in the procurement process. (It took him) three days for a $50,000 project. It should have been way beyond his capabilities, but it turned out it wasn't. He did a great job."
Price has done such a good job at Fort Riley's DOL, according to Wollenberg, that Wollenberg has labeled him one of the best interns they have had.
"He has done an outstanding job. He is the best intern we have had in the past five years," Wollenberg said. "He has volunteered on many occasions to do things that are not routinely expected of him."
One example Wollenberg gave was when DOL was in the process of loading the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team's equipment onto railroad cars for JRTC in 110-degree heat.
"He was up on the rail cars, ground guiding equipment into the correct location," Wollenberg said. "He actually worked so hard that one of the contract workers commented to me that he would become a great leader with a little more professional knowledge. That's extraordinary."
"I like to do manual labor," Price said, "because eventually I could be a manager, and I could manage a group of guys like that. I would like to get that experience of doing what they do, so when I make my decisions, I know that's affecting them. I want to know what it feels like to be in their shoes."
Fort Riley is a very busy place, which is another reason Price said he enjoys working with DOL.
"It's really cool that they actually send you TDY to posts like this - Fort Riley especially. They are so busy," he said. "It's really where rubber meets the road, I guess you would say. It's kind of clichAfA, but I never thought I would be doing this - getting so much hands on training and meeting so many different people.
"First of all, the people here are really down to earth. They're really enthusiastic about teaching me things. What I've learned here is you've got to be very flexible if you're going to work for a transportation office because things are constantly changing, and you constantly have to figure out new ways to tackle different situations."
In five years, Price said he would like to work in operations, possibly overseas in Kuwait, but his dream job would be working with the SDDC in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, because it is one of the busiest ports in the world, he said.
In working with DOL, Price said every day is different.
"It's not like I come to work and I am doing the same thing. I feel like every day is different," he said. "I like the fact that every day is a challenge, and I am learning something new every day."
Fort Riley intern programs
Fort Riley's Directorate of Human Resources, Workforce Development Office, is currently working closely with Linda Hoeffner, Fort Riley deputy garrison commander, to revitalize the intern program at Fort Riley, according to Darla Otto, management analyst with DHR.
There are several types of intern programs available, each with separate criteria and placement requirements, she said. Several intern programs exist Armywide, below are just two examples of such programs.
IMCOM Fellows program
The IMCOM Fellows program, conducted jointly with the Army Materiel Command, is a five-year program designed to build a multi-functional, mobile team of highly qualified civilian employees for the Army, Otto said.
Fellows can expect to advance non-competitively to the target level of a GS-12 or GS-13 equivalent, through the intervening grades of GS-9, GS-11 and GS-12, depending on the established career path for the position selected for final placement.
The program's first 13 months include coursework conducted at AMC's Logistics Leadership Center, Texarkana, Texas, and Texas A&M University - Texarkana, resulting in a master's degree. While in school, fellows are federal employees and receive compensation as a GS-7, with full federal employee benefits.
Once they receive their graduate degree, fellows complete 47 months of rotational, developmental training assignments, Otto said.
The web site with application details is www.amc.army.mil/pa/amccareers.asp.
ACTEDS intern program
Officials with workforce development have recently put in a request for four Department of the Army Army Civilian Training Education and Development System intern positions for 2011, Otto said.
The two-year ACTEDS intern program ensures planned development of civilian members of the force through a blending of progressive and sequential work assignments, formal training and self-development for individuals as they progress from entry level to key positions, she said.
Interns would enter the program at the GS-5 or GS-7 level as permanent full-time employees, with their salary and training expenses paid by DA Headquarters for the two-year period. The employing organization would be responsible for ensuring interns receive mandatory and on-the-job training, Otto said.
Upon successful completion of the program, interns would be permanently placed on mission rolls in GS-11 positions, funded by the garrison.
"Our intent is to develop broad gauged, multi-disciplinary civilian executive talent, while ensuring technical proficiency at each progression level, and provide an opportunity for growth and development to those individuals with high potential for advancement," she said. "In planning for succession, our goal is to 'grow our own' - to help prepare for future vacancies as the current workforce reaches the retirement window of opportunity."
By meeting this goal, Otto said, Fort Riley will ensure a skilled and ready workforce, capable of supporting the mission and garrison functions.