Fort Sam Houston, Texas - DA Civilian Intern Neftali Ruiz, of USAMITC's Sustainment Division, reacts at an overheard remark while going over paperwork at his desk. U.S. Army photo by Kenneth Blair Hogue

FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS -- A U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center (USAMITC) employee has a lot to be thankful for in his professional career. USAMITC Information Technology Policy and Plans Specialist, Neftali "Nef" Ruiz, is the command's only participant in the Department of the Army Internship Program.

The intern program is for full-time, entry level permanent civilian positions with the Department of the Army. The term "intern" refers to an Army management training program where entry grade levels GS-5 and GS-7 are hired, trained and developed to later assume mid-level management positions GS-9 or GS-11. Many of today's Army senior civilian leaders are former interns. The length of the Army internship is for two years and consists of on-the-job training combined with formal classroom training. At the end of the two year program, the graduating intern should be ready for the challenges faced by mid-level managers working with the Department of the Army.

Ruiz stumbled upon this opportunity quite by accident. "I applied for over 50 job openings on that were information technology positions," he said. "One day, I unexpectedly received a tentative offer for this intern position from an email. There was no interview or anything," he said. "I'd applied for this so long before that I didn't remember what this job offer was for," he continued.

After serving 21 years and retiring from the Air Force, Ruiz worked for the State of Texas Health and Human Services for a year. He then worked in a term position at Lackland Air Force Base for six months when this intern position opened up here. Ruiz has been in the intern program at USAMITC for nearly a year.

"This program is kind of a package deal in that to be selected they look at your past work experience, your leadership background and your college background," he said. "All this factored together is why I think I was selected for this position."

Ruiz received a lot of support when this opportunity presented itself. "My boss at Lackland didn't want to let me go, but she encouraged me since the intern program is good for promotions and career enhancement," he said.

Ruiz had the opportunity to rotate to different areas of the command, thereby deciding where he might want to work later. He works currently in USAMITC's Sustainment Division in the Operations Support Branch for Tony Colby, the OSB Chief. "Mr. Colby has been terrific," he said.

Ruiz has worked at three other sections within the Sustainment Division, and he gets to pick where he wants to go within the command at the end of the program.

"And that's the thing about this internship program: You have to be very flexible; moving to different areas of the command and working with different leadership styles," he said. "That's where your own leadership style comes into play because you have to be very flexible and patient dealing with diversity."

Ruiz said that his training while in the internship program had been, and is, extremely challenging. "There's training that's unique and specific to this program that's required on top of the command training requirements for USAMITC," he said.

Ruiz also had his personal educational goals he was striving to accomplish simultaneously. "For the last 11 months that I've been involved in this program, I not only had training from both USAMITC and the intern program, but I was also working on my bachelor's degree to get it out of the way. All this together made for a very intense training regimen."

He also had some advice and words of encouragement for anyone who may be interested in the Department of the Army Internship Program: "You need to be proactive and take the lead in learning about the program. And self initiative: You have to take the initiative in doing the leg work to get into the program and accomplish this for yourself," he said.

All in all, Ruiz said he's enjoyed the time he's spent at this command so far, and is looking forward to the rest of the time he'll spend here. He feels a special debt of gratitude to the people of USAMITC. "I also want to thank the leadership and my co-workers for allowing me to be part of this great and outstanding organization," he concluded.

Page last updated Mon December 5th, 2011 at 13:24