Help wanted: Norfolk District looks to ‘build the bench’ at 4th annual career fair

Published Feb. 1, 2019

Federal hiring event held at Norfolk District
SLIDESHOW | 2 images | 190130-A-SO401-1017 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel greet visitors Wednesday during the 2019 Federal Careers Open House at Norfolk District headquarters on Fort Norfolk, Virginia. About 50 college students and recent graduates attended the annual job fair. (U.S. Army photo/Andria Allmond)
NORFOLK, Va. – What’s it like working for the federal government and where can you sign up?

About 50 college students and recent graduates learned more about potential pathways and opportunities Wednesday during the 2019 Federal Careers Open House hosted by Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The fourth annual event took place at the Waterfield Building on historic Fort Norfolk.

District leaders and recruiters provided information on benefits, the Federal Pathways Internship Program and current job openings. Career fair organizers say it’s a good platform for hiring managers to cast a net for individuals with the talent and skill sets to lead the agency into the future.

“Norfolk District’s federal job fair is a great opportunity for us to showcase the impact we are having at the local, regional and national levels – and we need to continuously bring in new talent that will help us deliver this important program,” said Col. Patrick Kinsman, Norfolk District commander.

The open house kicked off with an hourlong presentation aimed at helping prospective applicants tailor their resumes for the federal hiring process, navigate USAJOBS – the government’s official employment site – and gain tips on interviewing for positions.

Afterward, district volunteers from various offices and departments spoke individually with attendees about Norfolk District’s projects, their careers and experience working in the federal government.

“This is a first-class event that is truly the model for USACE in helping to build the bench,” said Mike Darrow, deputy district engineer for Programs and Project Management. “It gives us a great chance to talk to folks interested in joining our great team.”

Chris Tolson, a civil engineer in the district’s Operations Branch design section and lead organizer for the open house, told students and graduates about USACE’s extensive reach in delivering engineering solutions for the nation and the significant role civilians play in the mission.

“We’re a large organization that does a lot of civil works and military construction – and we deploy for disaster response,” he said. “The great thing about this district is the people. It’s the reason this place is special.

“This is a good opportunity to share what it's like to work at Norfolk District, as well as help recruit the next wave of people who will further make this a better organization.”

Reginald Chatmon, 27, recently graduated from Saint Leo University with an accounting degree. A Navy reservist who also works as a civilian engineer at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in nearby Portsmouth, he’s now pursuing a Master of Business Administration from the school’s Chesapeake campus.

He said he’s always looking for different opportunities to impact the military’s mission on a bigger scale and was drawn to USACE’s humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief missions, which he didn’t even know about till the career fair.

“I found that out today and it made me even more interested in working here,” Chatmon said. “I’m big on helping the community and places affected by natural disasters. I’m always looking for anything I can do to support that kind of mission.

“Hopefully, (the Corps) likes me as much as I like this place.”

While most open house visitors were approaching graduation or fresh out of college, that wasn’t the only case.

Cheryl Lomax, who just turned 50, said she heard about the job fair a day earlier and quickly decided to show up and learn more.

“At this point in life, I’m just looking for something new, a new challenge,” said Lomax, a dean’s assistant at Tidewater Community College in Norfolk.

Two years ago, Lomax earned her MBA, with a concentration in project management. She was interested in Contracting Office vacancies but also has a background in finance, real estate and budgeting.

“If I fit in somewhere else, that would be great,” she said. “Today was one of those times where you look back on your experience and rediscover your self-worth. I can definitely fill a need here. There are new opportunities here, and I would love to travel.

“This fits perfectly with what I’d like to do. I can see myself doing this.”

Norfolk District is recruiting professionals in several occupational groups, including natural resources management and biological sciences, accounting and budget, engineering and architecture, legal and contracting.

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