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Career Story: Communication Specialist For The Federal Government

Communication Specialist For The Federal Government

Job Title: Communication Specialist

Education: B.S., Business Administration, Averett College

Previous Experience: Contractor for SAIC and Robbins Gioia

Job Tasks: I work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The office I work for is responsible for the upgrade and replacement of old, out-of-date computer systems used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. My primary role is to market the new computer system to internal and external users of the new system.

External users are comprised of the trade community. When goods enter the country, importers and carriers (truckers) must file paperwork regarding the goods, this is called a e-Manifest. Previously this information is filed via paperwork. Paperwork that slows border crossings and therefore slows goods entering the country. In addition, with manual paperwork to complete and review, officers at the ports of entry are not given enough time to dedicate to securing our nation's borders. The new system my office is creating will allow these e-manifests to be filed electronically, thereby getting rid of all paperwork. Per law, the information is now to be submitted to Customs via this new computer system called ACE, at least one hour prior to arrival at the port. That gives the officers enough time to prepare for the goods and thereby allowing goods to enter the country quickly, smoothly and allowing the officers to focus more on security issues rather than paperwork.

My job involves educating and informing both internal and external audiences who will be impacted by this new computer system. Many truck carriers have never touched a computer, so for them to now have to follow this law that mandates them to use a computer can be a shock. I aid in the development of training courses for both internal and external users of the new system, ACE. I write articles, maintain the web site, and hold conferences/seminars to help in the education and information sharing regarding this new system. It is government marketing at its best.

To accurately do this one must be able to:

  • Have experience in Program Management
  • Obtain a Full Sealed Background Investigation Security Clearance
  • Perform independent research to write articles, speeches, and presentations geared towards program mission and goals. Tailors the speeches to the specific audience and speakers interests.
  • Develop program mission newsletters, brochures, and publications with authoritative information on program, policies, and procedures
  • Write and edit content such as press releases, speeches, and articles on variety of topics for program newsletters and web site
  • Independently interview multiple subject matter experts to gather information for articles, speeches, and presentations. Verifies and tailors information gathered to effectively convey intended message to appropriate audiences.
  • Establish program policies and procedures required to perform mission support tasks
  • Researches, writes, and designs effective program newsletters, brochures, and marketing materials
  • Monitor and execute program schedules using MicroSoft Project and Planview
  • Develop and brief program orientation to new personnel
  • Provide briefing materials, speeches, and research to support DHS officials in Congressional meetings and DHS interagency meetings

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is the travel that is involved. You get to travel to a lot of locations to conduct seminars and conferences on the subject. Another great thing is the writing. If you love to write, there is a lot of opportunities. However, this also leads to the negative, due to it being a government job, there are many limitations on what or how you can write. You are not as free in your writing as independent companies.

Job Tips: Getting a job with the government can be difficult. There is a secret though. When completing the KSA's on the careers web site when applying for a government position, there are key words they look for. For example, if the question says "Do you know how to write an article" you repeat the question in your response several times, "I know how to write an article. For example, when I write an article I..." sounds silly but it does help in getting a government job. Unfortunately those looking at the job applications and resumes are not the ones looking to hire you. They have a group of people who just "grade" your responses, from there you are placed on a list and only the top 5 individuals names are provided to the hiring office.

Additional Thoughts: Many believe that working for the government is not ideal. Perhaps the pay does not start out as high, but in the end the benefits outweigh the private sector. Job security is better with the government, retirement is better, and growth potential is vast.

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