By U.S. ArmyNovember 15, 2017
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Mission and Installation Contracting Command -- Fort Bragg
POSITION: Contracting officer
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 9
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in contracting
EDUCATION: M.A. in procurement and acquisitions management, Webster University; B.A. in sociology and social work, Fayetteville State University
AWARDS: 'Commander's Civilian of the Quarter Award; Achievement Award for Civilian Service
Homing in on a contracting career
Nicole Jones came to the acquisition workforce nine years ago, opting to leave a job in human resources in Northern Virginia for the chance to move back to her hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. She found a position as a contract specialist for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) -- Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as well as a supportive family in her co-workers there.
"In 2008, I applied for a position as a contract specialist intern at MICC -- Fort Bragg that sounded interesting and challenging, and it also brought me back home," said Jones, now a contracting officer for the MICC -- Fort Bragg Tenant Division. "I'm proud to be part of a dedicated and impressive military and civilian team that does an outstanding job of executing and managing contracts. In this field, you can never think you have it all or know it all. I learn something new every day, and that makes my career interesting."
Much of what she learns comes from mentors who have helped her advance in her career, including former Division Chief LaTanya Johnson, Branch Chief Linda McLean, Gail Williams, a senior contracting official with more than 30 years of experience, and Business Operations Chief Leotis Bell from her beginning assignment as an intern in the Contract Administration Division. "There were countless days of desk-side training, providing tools to assist me with procuring my actions or just simply encouraging words that keep me striving. In life, we rise by lifting and helping one another, and they're important parts of our office performing as well as it does. Michael Pressley, who recently joined our division as our chief, has been a great support as well."
She's also quick to thank her team members for their support, including Shondell Jordan, Brian Gilmore, Tracy Brooks, Staff Sgt. Dele Adeleye and Capt. Safiul Alam. "They've been truly awesome to work with," she said.
According to Jones, contracting officers need three tools for success: the ability to communicate effectively and professionally, a desire to learn and good interpersonal skills. "The work we do is challenging, and there are a lot of changes that we need to keep up with," she said. "Being open to learning new things and communicating with peers as well as senior leadership is the best way to stay on top of policy updates and internal changes."
It's also an important part of career advancement, she added. "Allowing yourself to be open for challenging opportunities within the acquisition career field will open doors to gain experience and expertise. Register for classes to achieve that next degree or certification, or raise your hand for that challenging project that you often thought you would never take on. Just knowing that you put forth your best effort is the most rewarding feeling."