What a Difference a Year Makes!

One year ago:  Nate dressed up for school in celebration of my first day on the job.

One year ago: Nate dressed up for school in celebration of my first day on the job.

Yesterday was my one-year anniversary of employment with the federal government. (Yes, of the United States.)   I guess I must be doing OK because they’ve not yet asked me to go home and leave the parking pass behind.

This job has been an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. After nearly two years of being unemployed, you’d think that any job would come as an unexpected surprise and this one was no exception at the time. That it’s remained unexpectedly pleasant for a year is really quite amazing.

The day I was hired, before driving out here to the research center where I work, I in-processed downtown at the DC offices near the Navy Yard. Without exception, everyone I encountered there told me how fortunate I was to have landed a job out here at the research center. Once I arrived on site, everyone here made me feel welcome and necessary to everything that was going on out here. It’s remarkable that such an attitude persists for very long at all but the truth is that everyone here still makes me feel that way. The real beauty of it? It seems that everyone out here gets the same treatment.

This place is overloaded with Ph.D.’s and engineers and smart people the likes of which I’ve not seen outside of academia. I am totally outclassed by pretty much everyone with whom I interact but no one has even once made me feel less than important even though I am less accomplished academically.

Sciency stuff:  The RABIT bridge deck assessment tool collects comprehensive data on surface and subsurface conditions automatically and simultaneously.

Sciency stuff: The RABIT bridge deck assessment tool collects comprehensive data on surface and subsurface conditions automatically and simultaneously.

I experienced a lot this past year. I got to photograph and briefly meet the President of the United States. I observed a small robot inspect an entire bridge structure. I watched a bunch of engineers and scientists break a bridge structure with over 300,000 lbs. of force. And a couple of spectacular car crashes NOT involving my Prius.

Anyway, why am I telling you all this? I’m grateful for having survived a year as a federal government employee. But more importantly, no one should ever disparage the entire federal workforce. There’s some serious — and I mean serious talent out here at Turner-Fairbank just as there was among my civilian colleagues within the Department of Defense.

But probably the most important and lasting thing that I’ve learned is because of my colleagues: dedicated service to your nation doesn’t have to come with a uniform.

Thanks for a great year!


Comments

What a Difference a Year Makes! — 27 Comments

  1. I should have said “… of civilian employment with the federal government…” However, being a federal employee and being in the military are generally considered different among those of us who spent significant time in uniform. I suppose from the dictionary definitions, it’s a distinction without a difference, but it really IS different.

  2. Dan – our government is only as good as the people we have in it. The military is vital, but for many so is the person that processes that Social Security check, that person who helps to straighten out a Medicare claim, that person who gives final approval to a CDC grant, I could go on and on. Our American Government is a reflection of the American people. Sometimes it’s pretty stupid, at other times it’s pretty great. It’s a little bit better for having you in it.

  3. “I am totally outclassed by pretty much everyone with whom I interact…” What you see, Dan, is their particular skill sets. You have your own and they see that as well. In addition, it would be very difficult indeed to outclass one such as you who sees the best in everyone and treats them as such.

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