ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A program within the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command is designed to help enhance and manage the CECOM developmental workforce.Created in fiscal 2019, the Career Development Employee program gives relative newcomers to the command the chance to learn and develop new skills. Their positions offer rapid career advancement to journeyman level, said Tiffany Grimes, a human resources specialist with CECOM G1.About 180 CECOM employees are part of the CDE program, with an additional 46 who are in school.“Our CDE program is needed because CDEs are a valuable resource for CECOM and the Army to push us toward the singular goal of a connected, ready, and lethal American Soldier,” Grimes said. “They bring fresh new ideas and if groomed properly, will be retained, as the future of the workforce.”CECOM requires each permanent CDE to go on at least two developmental rotations to add to their experience. They must also have a mentor to assist their supervisors and career program managers provide advice and guide their careers.The program also includes periodic events, such as sensing sessions, picnics, Activity Career Program Manager engagement activities, lunch and learns, tech talks, and speakers on focused topics relevant to the CDE workforce.The program also has three CDE lead developmental committees: the Junior Advisory Committee, Command & Staff Developmental Employee Committee and SEC Development Advisory Committee.Col. Osvaldo Ortiz, commander of the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, said many people join its ranks as CDEs. USAISEC is a subordinate element of CECOM.“We often refer to these CDEs as “interns,” regardless of the workforce development paths or programs in which they are participating,” he said. “However they come to us, we are grateful for their interest in becoming members of the ISEC team and pursuing a fulfilling career as a Department of the Army civilian.”Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has continued.While Ali Syed, an accountant with CECOM G8, enjoys the normal face-to-face interaction that the program provides, communication, workflow and trainings have not stopped, he said. Many events, including town halls and team meetings, have shifted to virtual environments.“While it is an adjustment, I think the avenues are still open for communication and growth,” he said.Syed said the program allows new employees to integrate and grow, rather than feeling overwhelmed, and that he was impressed with how CECOM’s talent management team has devoted time and energy to helping employees grow.“Coming from the private sector, this was a little bit of a culture shock to me,” he said about becoming an Army civilian. “This allows you to learn about different resources that are available.”The group recently took part in a career development virtual town hall, which featured remarks from CECOM’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, and senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Kristie Brady, on mentoring, as well as a lecture from Claire Meany, a professional coach and facilitator from The Meaningful Consulting Group.James Caseja, an IT specialist in the CECOM Software Engineering Center Technical Services Directorate’s Cybersecurity Division Technical Branch, recently finished the program and said it provided a valuable hands-on perspective when it came to learning about cybersecurity. He has been at APG and CECOM SEC for about four years.“This is definitely something that everyone should do as they’re new to the government and at least within CECOM,” he said. “ I think it’s beneficial in getting to know the organizational culture and networking firsthand.”He said it was valuable to be in a group of peers with similar experience.“I think it definitely paved the way to help me achieve competency in my position,” he said.