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By DCMA Boeing Philadelphia
The Defense Contract Management Agency provides college students with a variety of work experience to learn more about the federal government.
It’s just a 76-mile journey from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania to Ridley Park, but traveling those miles for a DCMA summer internship opened Vanessa Lawrence’s eyes to the world of government service.
Lawrence, a college senior who interned at DCMA Boeing Philadelphia, is a part of the recent cohort of the Department of Defense College Acquisition Internship Program. She was the only intern at the contract management office, but there were other interns across the agency at various CMOs who participated in the program. The internship, which is a 10-week paid program, allows agencies to establish partnerships with local colleges and attract talented students to consider a federal career.
As a criminal justice major with public-service ambition, but with no federal work experience, Lawrence was intrigued by the agency’s mission.
“I am always excited to learn something new, and I thought it would be great to see what working in a government workplace is like,” she said.
She also mentioned that DCMA’s emphasis on various business practices was another factor in her applying for the program as a way to test her interest in business, which she has considered adding as a degree minor.
The first few days of her internship were busy – checking in and onboarding, meeting the team, and going on tours of the facilities and factory floors.
“I really liked how friendly and welcoming everyone was, although I was unsure at first what my role for the summer would be,” said Lawrence, who interned from June to August.
“As the weeks passed, Vanessa spent time with each functional team at the contract management office and visited contracting teams at the Naval Support Activity Philadelphia and Mechanicsburg as well,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Luke Hodges, a contracts administrator. “These visits were a window into the vast breadth of roles and responsibilities that must be coordinated to ensure contracts are administered well.”
During her internship, Lawrence pitched in to help with several projects that improved office space utilization and addressed backlogs in archived document disposition. She said working on those projects taught her more about contracts and she learned to interpret the documents to know what questions to ask to better understand them.
Another way she gained experience was by participating in her CMO’s contract administrator boot camp sessions. Those sessions allowed her to grasp the overall contracting administration process. One of the sessions she enjoyed was focused on the Integrated Cost Analysis Team, which highlighted the ways DCMA strives to ensure customers and taxpayers receive the best value for each dollar spent.
“Working with mentors and attending the contracts' team boot camp sessions taught me a ton by observing practical examples of how contract management is done correctly,” Lawrence added.
Another highlight for Lawrence was working with the Mission Support Office, which allowed her to become familiar with the travel funds expenditure summaries, program checkups and other reports at the manager’s monthly review meeting. During that rotation, she volunteered to plan, prepare and execute morale-building events for the CMO employees.
Culminating the summer session of her internship, Lawrence brought her myriad experiences across the organization to work on the Customer Engagement Plan for DCMA Boeing Philadelphia.
“The Customer Engagement Plan is a vital means of explaining and documenting the value created through the efforts of the DCMA team,” said Hodges. “Vanessa, having learned the essence of what each division in the organization accomplished, used the Customer Engagement Plan and her newfound perspective to construct and refine significant portions of the command’s FY19 strategic and Customer Engagement Report.”
Overall, Lawrence said her internship experience was positive.
“I learned a lot, contributed to important command goals, and I now see government service in a new light,” she said. “And of course, I did a lot of online training.”
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