Christopher Venn, chief of the Resource Management Office at U.S. Army Garrison Japan, speaks with his staff during a meeting at Camp Zama Jan. 18, 2022. Venn was one of 14 Army civilians across the world chosen for the 10-month resident cohort at the Army War College, which begins courses in late summer as part of the master’s degree program.
Christopher Venn, chief of the Resource Management Office at U.S. Army Garrison Japan, speaks with his staff during a meeting at Camp Zama Jan. 18, 2022. Venn was one of 14 Army civilians across the world chosen for the 10-month resident cohort at the Army War College, which begins courses in late summer as part of the master’s degree program. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Jan. 19, 2022) – While searching for a new career to better support his family in 2008, Christopher Venn scrolled through the job postings on Craigslist and came across the chance to enter the federal service.

Venn had previously tried his luck at flipping homes in Hawaii until the financial crisis derailed those efforts. He then took a position at a green startup company and while the salary was good, the job security was not ideal, especially with two young children at home.

He applied for several positions on USAJobs.gov in hopes of joining the Army civilian ranks. But with no prior military service, he hit roadblocks until he saw the classified ad for a financial management internship. He had found his stepping stone.

“OK, I thought, this is my way to get into federal service,” he said.

The position, which was excepted service and could be advertised in nontraditional ways, was at U.S. Army Pacific. Fast forward to today, the 45-year-old civilian is the head of the Resource Management Office at U.S. Army Garrison Japan.

Venn now aims to even further his career after recently being selected to attend the Army War College through the Army Senior Enterprise Talent Management program. The program prepares participants for positions of greater responsibility through advanced senior-level educational and experiential learning opportunities.

Venn was one of 14 Army civilians across the world chosen for the 10-month resident cohort at the college, which begins courses in late summer as part of the master’s degree program.

“My first thought was, ‘Pinch me – is this for real? Is this really happening?’” he said.

Located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the college enrolls only a few hundred students each year, with about half in a two-year distance learning program and the other half in person.

Founded in 1901, the college produces skilled critical thinkers and problem solvers in the global application of land power by providing students a balance of theory, history, practice and communication skills so they can clearly propose solutions to complex strategic problems, according to its website.

“It came as no surprise that Chris was selected in this very competitive field,” said Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson, commander of USAG Japan. “He’s a tremendous leader in our organization and he will do great. We’re all very proud of him.”

Place to grow, develop

As a young professional, Venn, of Bend, Oregon, never imagined spending over a decade in the federal service, let alone entering it. But as he struggled with his early career moves, his aunt and uncle, who had worked for the government, convinced him to look into it.

“I had no intentions of working for the Army,” he said. “It was not a dream of mine. It’s something that just happened and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

“The Army has been an awesome experience,” Venn added. “It’s a place for you to grow and develop.”

Venn credited the internship for providing him knowledge of the Army’s mission and how he could move it forward as part of a team.

“Understanding that I am here to help support, fund and execute that mission was an immediate draw for me,” he said of his work on budgets. “I was immediately sold.”

He said he looks forward to another eye-opening experience in the classrooms of the Army War College, where he will be in seminars with mostly military personnel.

“It will be challenging to bridge that gap, but that’s the indoctrination that I’m going to get out of this experience,” he said, adding that he hopes to share his point of view as an Army civilian as well.

Venn encouraged other civilians to consider programs that can advance their careers, too. He said the process to be selected for the Army War College took about a year and involved lots of paperwork including a statement of purpose, evaluations and interviews.

He suggested starting early and seeking assistance from those who have already gone through it.

While this specific program is for GS-14 and GS-15 employees, the Army also has the Enterprise Talent Management program with modules available for civilians at the GS-12 level or equivalent and up.

Additional information on both programs can be found here: https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/setm-etm/.

Related links:

U.S. Army Garrison Japan news

USAG Japan official website