By Jon BleiweisSeptember 26, 2019
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- For Paige White, working to support the warfighter is a family affair.
As a child, her mother, Lisa, would often talk to her about how much she loved her job working in the Army and what she did to help Soldiers.
"Being that she comes home every day and actually loves what she does made me want to also love what I do," she said.
When an opportunity arose for White, 24, to join the Army team through the Integrated Logistics Support Center's internship program at APG, she pounced. Since January, she has been an intern technical writer within the center, a position she saw as a good fit, given her background in communication studies.
For burgeoning professionals in supply management, material maintenance management, transportation and distribution management and manpower and force management, an internship program through the Integrated Logistics Support Center at APG gives them a foot in the door to work with the Army.
The two-year program -- or longer, if the internship starts while one is still in college -- is designed to allow the interns to gain valuable experience in those career programs and build upon their skills before becoming a full fledged member of the workforce, said ILSC deputy director Nicole DiIorio, who herself was part of the program in 2000.
Through the program, interns such as White have the opportunity to learn about different professions within ILSC.
White said she loves coming to work every day and being able to learn from people who are eager to teach her.
"This is, by far, the best job I've had so far," she said. "I love coming to work every day, feeling like my job has purpose."
Janet Penaherrera, program lead of the Pathways/Career Ladder Developmental Team, which oversees hiring, executive and administration of the internship program, said the key to the internship program is retention. She said it's tough to find experienced employees through the private sector, so developing from within has become a critical way to acquire talent.
There are about 80 interns in the program, she said.
"It's very rewarding to see people that go through the program and feel very confident," she said. "They feel like they're part of the mission of the organization."
Programs that take place over the course of the internship, such as an annual intern networking event, allow the interns the center's nine directorates and activities to interact with each other and with supervisors in an informal setting. These events are designed with the goal of helping foster relationships, Penaherrera said.
"We want to retain the people we're hiring and events like this help retain them," she said. "They find a sense of belonging."
Pat Looney, chief of ILSC supply chain management directorate's product line management division, said having the interns brings fresh ideas and a new energy.
"The key is the experienced people are going to continue to age and roll out of the government and we need time to raise these people up and get in the experience for them to learn, so that as those people exit through retirement, the next wave is coming," she said. "It's just the inevitable transition of knowledge."
Of Looney's 65 person team, five are interns, she said, adding more than half of her team had previously taken part in the internship program. Looney took part in it in 2004.
"It allows recent graduates to get their foot in the door and then prove themselves," she said. "But we have to give them the opportunity."
"I think the future for us is to continue to grow, adapt and learn from each other," she said. "Every opportunity we have to bring in and hear from new folks on how we can continue to grow is really what we're trying to do here."
DiIorio said the interns bring a new and often times more modern perspective on fields such as data analytics and technical writing.
"They bring outside the box ways of thinking about things," she said.
For Malissa Mello, an item manager who has been in the intern program for four years, she said the program has provided her with ample training that has helped her succeed. She hopes to stay in the Army and has aspirations to be a branch chief, or an even higher position.
"They worked hard to get us what we need and to make sure we're on top of things," she said.
Mello, 25, supports communications systems in helicopters and makes sure Soldiers in the field have everything they need to succeed.
It's definitely a different experience having someone rely on you," she said. "I have to support my warfighter so, there's always teamwork."