BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services Project Manager Cameron Schuemann participated in the Pathways to Career Excellence Program from 2006 to 2008. During the time he participated, the program was still called the Corporate Intern Program. After Schuemann completed the program, he was hired as an environmental protection specialist.
Why did you first apply to the PaCE Program? Was it your first position with DLA?
I grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, and many of my friends’ parents worked at the Federal Center and it always spiked my interest. My cousin, Dan Schuemann, was accepted into the DLA Contracting Specialist Corporate Intern Program and raved about the experiences and opportunities the agency offered.
What was your position before coming to the PaCE Program?
I jumped at the opportunity to get into the intern program after working several years as a high school teacher. The lack of available funding eliminated my position.
What have been your favorite parts of the PaCE Program?
I loved visiting sites for classroom training with my fellow interns. These trips built strong bonds between our intern group that remain to this day.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the program?
Being temporarily assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington, for a month. While there I processed turn-ins, performed yard inspections, and accompanied contractors to receipt-in-place hazardous waste removals. Those were incredible experiences, and the Fort Lewis staff treated me like family.
If there was one thing that could’ve been different for you in the PaCE program, what would it be?
When I was in the program, there was little interest from higher-level supervisors, so the interns weren’t given the opportunity to create those relationships when rotating through the different division branches. Since then, there have been major improvements like director lessons learned briefings and more structured rotations. This has helped us, as DLA employees, build professional relationship with the interns. Additionally, it helps the interns understand our processes better.
What would you say is the most important quality to succeed in the PaCE program?
As a PACER, you need to be focused and inquisitive. However, master the following to move-up in your career: strong work ethic, organized and timely, attention to detail, and be positive and friendly.
In your own words, how would you describe the PaCE program, and what can you gain from it?
This fast-paced program provides individuals the necessary tools to fast track their careers, creating the agency’s future leaders.
Please describe your current position in a couple of sentences, and how being in the PaCE program affected you in that position.
Currently, I’m the 3rd Party Remedial Project Manager in the Environmental Support Branch at DLA Disposition Services Headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan. I manage cases where Department of Defense property caused off-installation environmental contamination from sales or disposal services. This involves record searches, site inspections, site remediation, long-term operations and maintenance, litigation, cost-to-complete funding, stakeholder coordination, and sales and disposal liability prevention oversight. The intern program introduced me to the process owners and processes that cause and prevent 3rd party cases.
What have you done since you finished with the PaCE Program?
In 2012, I deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, for six months. While there I managed and closed the hazardous waste yard. This was a career highlight for me, and an incredible adventure.
Where did you see yourself going when you first started, and how does that compare to where you are now?
There were opportunities all over, but I went all in on the Environmental Support Branch. I was able to move up the ranks from within and make significant process improvements along the way.
Do you have any advice for current or prospective PaCERs?
Volunteer for everything, get that hand up immediately and think about it later. This is important because there are so many educational travel and project opportunities that will contribute to diverse experiences within the agency.
Editorial Note: The Pathways to Career Excellence Program for DLA Disposition Services is a two-year program that takes PaCERs through all of Disposition Services and its processes to learn as much as possible about the directorate. The first year takes place at DLA Disposition Services Headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, and the second year either takes place in Battle Creek for Contracting PaCERs or at an assigned field site for Property Disposal PaCERs. PaCERs begin as general schedule 7s, move to GS-9s at the end of their first year, and graduate the program as GS-11s. There are multiple pathways to becoming a PaCER, including being hired internally, as a recent graduate, or from military service.