Commentary: DLA Makes Me the Lucky One

By Jessica Ruffing DLA Land and Maritime People and Culture Directorate

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Adults far into their career always say we’re “the lucky ones” because we have a clean slate to start our careers in whichever direction we choose to push ourselves. However, for a while, I believed it was those successful career people who were the lucky ones.

As a college student, it can be a bit overwhelming to have your whole life ahead of you and not know exactly where you’ll end up or what you’ll be doing. I was worried about getting started somewhere and gaining invaluable experience that would guide me in my career path. Myself, and every other student, only needs one opportunity to present itself and give us that chance to excel, and that’s exactly what the Defense Logistics Agency has done for me.

I first found out about the Pathways College Internship Program from a job searching platform that The Ohio State University uses called Handshake. I applied online first; however, I also saw that DLA would be attending the upcoming Internship Fair at Ohio State the following week. So, dressed in my professional attire and resume in hand, I headed straight for the DLA recruiting booth at the fair.

I was greeted by Craig White, the program manager, who instantly made me feel less nervous. We discussed what the internship would entail from the hours, the job duties and the potential for moving up within the agency.

What stood out to me the most was the endless opportunities that seemed to be presenting themselves through this internship. I was told it would be full time through the summer and continue until graduation with adjustable hours while putting school first.

Most internships are very temporary, so the fact that this one would be available to me until graduation, gaining that invaluable experience and being paid while in school? I’ll take it. Then to also be told that immediately following graduation I’d be moved into the Pathways to Career Excellence Program, giving me a job right out of college ... yes, I’m “the lucky one.”

Being a part of this internship program has already taught me so much from soft skills like communication, time management and leadership; to hard skills like learning a new software program that is essential to my job.

I’ve also been able to network with numerous people in different career paths throughout DLA that has opened my eyes to opportunities I wasn’t even aware I was interested in before. Aside from the specific internship, being a part of DLA as a whole has been overwhelmingly rewarding. The opportunities are endless, the environment is positive and inclusive, and we’re all working to achieve our primary goal of serving our Warfighters. I’m indeed, “the lucky one.”