Commentary by a Former Federal Hiring Manager
By James Lint and Juico Bowley
People often tell me that they want a national security job.
“I want to be as rich and as smart as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet!” Determined young professionals would wishfully exclaim. Quickly, I steer the conversation to get a better idea of what his goals are, and how he plans to achieve them. Everyone should realize that there are opportunities to learn everywhere, in every setting. While graduating with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is a great accomplishment and step in the right direction, there is much more to learn beyond going to college
I asked the future national security worker what he did on Spring Break? He said nothing on a recent break, but on an earlier break he went to Cancun, Mexico.
He did nothing during a break from college for a week? Could his time been better allocated to his goal or did he waste that time? Did he take a certification exam? Did he go on interviews for an intern program?
During the Spring Break in Cancun, what did he learn? Was the style or speed of the internet different? Was the keyboard different? (Try using a keyboard in a cyber cafe in Korea or Russia, and you might see some differences.) The cyber cafes’ you visited, did they have antivirus? Or malware defense software? Was the system locked down or wide open, so you could see elements of the network that may indicate a level of security?
There is lots to learn anytime and anywhere.
There are many opportunities for internships in the summer. Many are unpaid internships. You pay for learning in college. Internships are learning expenses, and you may not make money on them, but you will learn about corporate culture, and a different view from college level academics.
Summer is a time for job hunting and internship hunting. It is not about your comfort or having a great party. How will you answer the question from a hiring manager, “What did you do on your last two summer breaks?” This will tell the manager if you are focused on the job, or a time waster. Are you pursuing your goals or hoping to obtain them by luck?
How Was His Job Hunting?
I asked a recent graduate how his job hunting was going? He said he was waiting to find a good job fair. My question was “Why are you not sending resumes to their Human Resources (HR)?” HR departments like to maintain a large database of people who want a job with them. If you do not send in many applications and resumes to the HR departments, they will never know you are available.
The Importance of The Job Series Number
When a recent graduate and job hunter was asked what job series they wanted to pursue in the federal government, they said Cyber or maybe IT. In federal government hiring, you are not applying for maybe. You apply for a job with a job series number. You should know the four-digit number, or you lose credibility. You need to do research. Below is a sample of some federal cyber defender jobs series.
Interestingly, the USAJOBS website has a good translator of federal job series to college majors. There are many areas to learn about working in the government. In the end, it can be very rewarding and decision making is unlike many places in business.
Be Mindful of Your Time and Spend it Wisely
How you use your time, and how you focus on your goals will be evaluated by good hiring managers. Use your time wisely and set goals. Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet obtain their goals because of the great focus of effort they place on each goal.. Goal oriented people achieve …more goals! Evaluate your efforts to obtain your goal. A question job hunters should ask is, “Am I pursuing my goals, or hoping to obtain them by luck?” Guess which one will be the most successful? Learn to document and articulate your goals. What can you do to improve your success?
Sample goals for a weekend may be:
–Discover, research and understand four federal job series.
–Send two applications for jobs at two different HR departments or into USAJOBS
–Learn one new tidbit of knowledge from reading IT/Cyber Defense blogs.
About the Authors
James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.
Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 51st scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a book in 2017 “Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”
Juico Bowley is currently a volunteer with the Lint Center. His efforts are dedicated to facilitating the education and promotion of National Security and Counterintelligence.