Interns get OJT in Alaska

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Quality Assurance Specialist Interns in the Pathways to Career Excellence Program are providing critical support to the Defense Logistics Agency Energy Americas North mission in Alaska. 

From July through December, two headquarters-based interns will rotate through the region conducting professional on-the-job training while filling a temporarily personnel gap. 

“Nothing trains you better than real world experience,” said Intern Mark Mizrahi. “Prior to this experience, I primarily shadowed and/or observed quality assurance representatives. I have attended several formal courses and read numerous publications and standards, but I learn much more from hands-on and visual experiences.” 

Mizrahi will be in Alaska from July to September and Intern Jason Searls from October through December. The training is Mizrahi’s capstone culminating almost two years in the intern program, designed to train critical workforce and improve QAR succession.

“The foundation for PaCE is the Program of Development that incorporates knowledge and practical training to provide the interns with an excellent foundational base for becoming a fully successful QAR,” said DLA Energy Quality Technical Intern Training Coordinator Mike Heidbreder. 

DLA Energy Americas North Quality Lead Lanny Collums proposed this win-win opportunity when one of his QARs was selected for deployment.

“When our QAR Ron Bock volunteered for a rotation in Afghanistan, I started working out a coverage plan,” Collums said. “I met the current interns and saw that they were quick learners and had a lot to offer. I figured we could provide them a chance to ‘get out in the real world’ while still in a controlled, learning environment.”

Under supervision, the interns are conducting quality assurance for pipeline movements and truck operations supporting Army and Air Force customers receiving product from a supplier in North Pole, Alaska. The North Pole operation has an established contractor delivering to local bases and a good support system in case the interns run into any concerns, Collums noted. 

Mizrahi credits the local QARs whose training has helped him understand the complexity of fuel testing and logistics.

“Brian Reed, is a senior QAR based out of Anchorage,” Mizrahi said. “He was here my first 10 days and taught me everything I needed to know. He ensured that I was familiar and comfortable with the area, coordinated site visits to all our locations, and introduced me to our local Air Force and Army customers. Brian has kept in touch and been my primary resource throughout the mission.” 

Collums said it was a positive outcome for everyone involved.

“Ron was able to step up and support the agency’s mission requirements in Afghanistan along with gaining knowledge and experience in a deployed environment; and the region was able to leverage fully trained and eager intern QAR’s for the mission,” he said.

Collums credits Heidbreder and other DLA Energy headquarters leadership for making it all come together including Quality Technical Director Pam Serino, her Deputy Bill Davenport, Quality Operations Chief Richard Knapp and PaCE Program Manager George Treloar.

“We would never have been able to come to such a great outcome without their assistance,” Collums said. “Mark has performed flawlessly, and I look forward to Jason’s arrival.”

The DLA Energy Quality Technical Directorate began participating in the PaCE Program in 2016 and currently has three interns. PaCE employees enter the program at the GS-07 entry-level and after completing Phase I requirements, advance to GS-09 in the second year. Unique to the QAR program is a third year at the GS-11 level where they receive quality assurance experience in the Energy regions. At the end of the program, individuals compete for an overseas GS-12 QAR position at a DLA Energy Europe and Africa, Middle East, or Pacific regions.

“When I entered the program, I had prior military experience but I didn’t have a background in fuel or petroleum products,” Mizrahi said. “The DLA PaCE program has given me a whole new career. This was not only a fantastic training opportunity but proved to me how very important this mission is for the Warfighter.”