ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Members from Army Contracting Command-Rock Island’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as well as individuals from the Journey to Leadership program represented Army Contracting Command-Rock Island at Rock Island High School’s career day recently.
Participants from ACC-Rock Island were Michele Ross, Sgt. 1st Class Jerri Taylor, Travon Aldridge, Amber Carter, Alissa Rohm, and Mariah Ross.
The career day was an all-day event with more than 100 professionals in attendance to expose students to different careers and professions. ACC-Rock Island was assigned to four different classes of juniors and seniors, totaling around 130 students. They also networked with the other professionals, as well as the faculty of the high school.
ACC-Rock Island attended the career day to provide details about the contracting field, including what skills are needed to be a qualified applicant. Connections were also discussed between job duties and the foundation high school classes and college course provide, explaining career benefits, and providing advice to students on overcoming obstacles and becoming successful.
Michele Ross, ACC-Rock Island’s Pricing Division Chief and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Chair, shared that one of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee initiatives is to enhance community engagement and increase awareness of the career opportunities at ACC-Rock Island.
“High school students typically are informed of the traditional career fields like engineering, nursing, medical fields, accounting, and trade schools,” said Ross. “The civilian career opportunities are not commonly known about, so it is critical for us to build relationships with our local high schools and start planting the seed with the students about the great career opportunities they have in their backyard.”
Mariah Ross, contract specialist, is part of a Journey to Leadership team that identified a project to increase awareness of career opportunities to high school and college students. “This provided a great opportunity to team up with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commitee and create a strategy to not only visit high schools but also create opportunities to have the high school student visit Rock Island Arsenal and learn about the different commands and career opportunities,” she stated.
Carter, human resources program specialist and member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, emphasized the importance of engaging with, informing, and attracting the local Quad City youth, and getting them excited about their future career opportunities.
“We need to make students aware that there are opportunities right here in Rock Island and let them know that we are Army civilians and not just military,” said Carter. “Also having Sergeant Jeri Taylor with us enforced that joining the military is also an option and then you can later come work as a civilian.”
Carter also stated that the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee’s efforts to engage high school students are commendable. By providing students with a broader perspective on available career options, there is the potential to shape a future workforce that is diverse, talented, and committed to the growth and development of the community. Informing high school students that ACC-Rock Island is an option for their career path by show casing successful individuals in various fields who come from different backgrounds, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee encouraged and motivated students to consider a wider array of career paths in the Quad Cities area outside of the private sector.
Rohm, contracting officer and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee member stated that it is important to let the students know that they can work on building certain traits while they are still in high school.
“You don’t need to be in college or in a career to develop traits such as leadership, communication or writing skills,” said Rohm. “It’s really letting the youth know that some of the classes they are taking in high school can be applied to their future career.”
Rohm explained that the presentation ended with a class activity where they worked on an example of a short, lowest price technically acceptable award process.
“We provided a requirement to buy a car with specific criteria and asked that they research and provide the car they recommend that meets the specific criteria,” said Rohm. “The team with the lowest price would be the winning team.”
She said that the group really seemed very engaged and passionate through negotiating.
“It was kind of fun with the last group who really took off with the end class activity,” said Rohm.
Taylor, as the military member on the committee, stated that many of the students that attended ACC-Rock Island’s presentation showed an interest in what ACC-Rock Island had to offer.
“It was great to see the students engaged and enjoying the activity,” said Taylor.
Many students asked insightful questions. One question that stuck out, Carter explained, was, "Do you have to do bootcamp?" Carter explained that since they were civilian employees, they did not have to go through bootcamp as they were not military. She further explained that they do support the war fighter in other ways. Rohm also stated that another student asked about the best part of the job.
“Each of us went around the room and talked about what our motivation was and why we like to do what we do,” said Rohm. “The same person also asked if our job was stressful, so we did explain some of the stressors that comes with contracting, and Amber talked about the human resources perspective as well.”
Carter explained to the students that even though there are some stressful parts of the job, there are endless benefits such as competitive salary, flexible work schedules, the student loan repayment program, continuing education program, as well as the camaraderie and strong sense of purpose and patriotism in supporting the warfighter.
The ACC-Rock Island Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee's efforts increased high school students’ awareness of the endless career opportunities the Army provides, which will assist them to make informed decision about their academic journey, explore options, and maximize their potential when pursuing a career.