Job Title: Defense Contractor
Education: AA in Liberal Arts BS in Mathematics Hofstra University MS In Mathematics University of Maryland
Previous Experience: I went to a Military Jr College after HS and got my two year degree as well as finished requirements to become a 2d lieutenant in the Reserve at age 19. I transferred to Hofstra University and 6 months before I graduated I accepted my commision. When I graduated I became a high school teacher for 2 years. I decided Russians were easier to fight than school kids and went on Active Duty. I retired after 25 years and became a Defense Contractor.
Job Tasks: My company supports the Office of the Secretary of Defense with subject matter experts who provide advice and guidance on the multitude of programs that the USA, USAF, USMC and USN develop. Defense contractors are the continuity behind the scenes as the military rotate after 2-3 years. Normally they are like me and have served their country and want to continue to do so.
In my work I ensure that the programs that come forward take into consideration the international side of the house. That means that we can pass information between our networks, have common tactics, techniques, and procedures, and develop along similar paths.
On a typical day such as today I spent most of it writing a Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Canada regarding sharing of communications assets, such as satellite communications. It seems that the Canadians informally told us that they have a 'bird' in the sky but no terminals, so they have extra bandwidth that the US can use. That's good for us. What they need is support in other areas, so the Memorandum seeks to develop a mutual understanding on a quid pro quo basis.
I travel to Brussels twice a year to support the US contingent to the NATO Command, Control, and Communications Board. I also will be going to Den Hague in Belgium for a technical exchange meeting. Our support is worldwide and my focus is NATO. Other individuals in the office support the Far East and Australia. I hope to expand the places I travel to in the future to more NATO nations.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are the days that I get out of the Pentagon and travel to the destinations listed above. It is one thing to e-mail individuals overseas it is quite another to meet with them and discuss issues face to face. Often times having a beer or two with those individuals over a one hour period is far more productive than months of e-mailling back and forth. You learn quite a bit about the individual and have a greater understanding of the individual on a more personal basis.
The worst part of my job is reviewing documents. NATO and the US put out tons of documents regarding a wide range of issues, programs, and initiatives. Being a subject matter expert for the Office of the Secretary of Defense requires that I be knowledgeable on everything - that means I have to read and comment on everything so the US can have a proper position on a given topic. It's not sexy but it's got to be done.
1. After serving a full military career and now being a Defense Contractor I would say that in order for people to take you seriously, listen to what you have to say, defer to you, or just know that you are a competent individual you must have a good command of the English language. This applies to both the spoken and written word.
2. When you set out to do something stick with it. There will always be detractors - someone says you can't do it, other things that someone else feels is important and they want to make their priority yours, or just general day-to-day tasks. Just keep focused.
3. If you don't know the answer to a question say you don't know the answer - but you'll find out. Often times through school in order to get 'points' you'll put as much information down as possible. That is the completely wrong way to go. Be brief and to the point.
Additional Thoughts: I was fortunate in my military career. I did alot of traveling, saw alot of places that I never would have gone to, met and still keep in contact with many foreign individuals, raised a small family who also look back fondly at where at what we have done, and went on to retire at age 43. I now have a second career doing similar work that I enjoy and it's fun to look under my pillow every month and find a check there!
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