Recognizing the Importance of Science & Technology in Development, USAID attended The Space Coast Job Fair and Hands-On Training Event in Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 26th. This event was part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) continuing effort to promote Federal hiring in areas most adversely affected by current economic conditions. OPM is supporting the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in its efforts to assist aerospace workers impacted by the ending of the Space Shuttle program.
“We’re looking for people who are fundamentally entrepreneurial, and who can bring a ‘Yes we can approach’ to USAID.” Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah
The conversation always begins with “why aren’t you working for the United States Agency for International Development?” The replies were always different. Most people never heard of us; some did not know why; and there was an occasional “you never asked.”
On July 26th, 2011, we traveled to Cape Canaveral for a NASA Job Fair where we spoke to well over a hundred very talented people from a wide variety of disciplines–engineers, contract specialists, and IT specialists to name a few– who had devoted decades of their lives to the space program. Our give-aways were USAID pens; jokingly, we told our visitors that they were designed by NASA. We told them that they could write underwater, upside down, and in space, for comic relief, but with all sincerity we asked that their next job acceptance letter be signed with this pen.
One NASA employee, Jill, was ending her military career in the Air Force as a lawyer. Dennis told her of the benefits and opportunities for veterans at USAID, including the Veterans Recruitment Appointments (VRAs) and other special hiring authorities that are available for women and men of service. For more information on these authorities, visit http://www.fedshirevets.gov/job/shav/index.aspx and http://www.usaid.gov/careers/vetfaq.html.
There was Anna, who was once an assistant school principal, but left her love of education for her love of space, to work as a Human Resource Administrator at NASA. We told her of the work the agency performs in global development and that we have a need for education specialists all over the world, as well as in Washington, and that she should look at our agency to rekindle her interests in teaching.
The person that we were impressed with the most was a portly fellow named Victor. He had a great suit, but was sweltering through his shirt because he stopped to change the tire of stranded motorist. He told us of his volunteer endeavors with the community and his work with all of the Space Shuttle launches as an IT Program Manager. His character and sincere devotion to helping others stood out; we told him that he would be a tremendous asset for USAID (or any agency) that he wanted to serve with.
NASA and USAID began three years apart in 1958 and 1961, and have become agencies known for hiring visionary leaders in their fields to lead the government’s work on two very different fronts. But the work is not always so different. In April, USAID and NASA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), agreeing to expand their joint efforts to overcome international development challenges such as food security, climate change, and energy and environmental management. You can learn more about how USAID and NASA are working together on these important issues through a video of a joint event from earlier this year.
Though the space program was ending, we found that the NASA employees that visited our booth shared great joy and pride in their work, rather than any anger that might be expected with the upcoming transitions. We hope to honor their service and turn their new challenge into an opportunity, by channeling their expertise into USAID.
NASA has created a website (www.jobsforaerospaceworkers.com) where Federal agencies can register, post jobs, and find additional information about the skills of the available workforce.
For more information on careers with USAID, visit: http://www.usaid.gov/careers/
Dennis Hicklin, Veterans Employment Program Manager for the Office of Human Resources’ Outreach and Special Hiring Unit; Sukhvinder Singh, Director of Operations for the Chief Information Officer (CIO); and Jeff Anouilh with the Chief Information Security Office