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August/September 2010

Diversity/Careers August/September 2010 Issue




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Diversity In Action

The DOE offers work from cybersecurity to nuclear engineering

"The department is a challenging, continuous learning environment for professional development and growth," says a director


From project management to cybersecurity, nuclear engineering to technical design, plenty of career opportunities in engineering and IT are available for diverse techies at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE's overall mission is to advance the national, economic and energy security of the U.S., to promote scientific and technological innovation in support of that mission, and to ensure environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex.

The agency recruits scientists, techies and engineers, says George Waldmann, director of the DOE's employment solutions division. It needs MEs, ChEs and people in the business management and acquisition field "because of contracts that Energy manages," Waldmann says.

"The more diverse your background in terms of academics as well as professional expertise, the more it will assist you in applying for a position. You could be in engineering today and tomorrow be on an engineering project supporting a contract," he points out.

Hands-on types of jobs are located in field offices, while at HQ most people work in program management and oversight. "Opportunities range across the whole spectrum. Depending on the applicants' interest, they could roll up their sleeves and get to work or be on the policy end in terms of program management," Waldmann says. Project management certification certainly helps, he adds.

In IT, cybersecurity skills are always in demand. Engineering skills are needed in this government arena, Waldmann says, but government qualifications are a little different from the private sector. Needed years of experience vary because of succession planning, ranging from interns to mid-level and senior-level jobs depending on the occupation. "Some jobs require a specific degree in a particular field, plus a minimum of specialized experience to get your foot in the door," Waldmann says.

Nuclear engineering is a special niche within the engineering area. The job may be in Washington, DC or at one of sixteen offices across the country, Waldmann says.

To tap a diverse pool of applicants, the department has relationships with HBCUs like Howard University (Washington, DC) and Clark Atlanta, and Hispanic-serving schools like the University of Puerto Rico. "Each school has a different program with different skill sets," Waldmann says. "We partner and work with as many as we can."

The department also works with professional development organizations such as SHPE, Blacks in Government and Military Stars. Last year the department attended 150 career fairs.

New staff members receive diversity awareness training during orientation. Various field offices have specific diversity groups including some for vets, and there's a task group for vets at HQ, Waldmann says.

The agency also has its own office of diversity and economic impact which works to educate employees, colleges and universities and the public, as well as cooperating with DOE managers and HR offices to keep diversity in the forefront.

To ensure a healthy work/life balance, the DOE offers fitness facilities at many locations, or may offer discounts for physical fitness centers. Telework, flextime, alternate work schedules and in some cases tuition assistance programs are available. Waldmann notes that the Partnership for Public Service ranks DOE high for its work/life balance efforts.

The Secretary of Energy recently started "Lab Day," where employees are encouraged to volunteer at local schools. "There's also an initiative from President Obama to boost volunteerism at DOE and other agencies. Senior level staff sets the example," Waldmann says.

DOE is also getting involved in social networking sites for recruiting and informing people about specific jobs. The department recently launched a virtual recruitment island on Second Life.

"We're looking for people who want to be challenged and think outside the box," Waldmann asserts. "A lot of employees are mobile; it's easy for an employee to move within the DOE. Your career is never stagnant.

"DOE offers a challenging, continuous learning environment with plenty of opportunities for professional development and growth," Waldmann concludes.

D/C



Department of Energy
Department of Energy
www.doe.gov

Headquarters: Washington, DC
Employees: 16,000 federal and 100,000 contractors
Budget: $26.6 billion
Mission: Economic and energy security of the United States

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