Trying to Get Ahead

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 1, 2013 in Family Stuff

I think when I was last posting regularly, I had just gone back to work – and went back to work kicking and screaming, too.

Kicking and screaming because I work in a very technical field that changes very quickly.  I was a stay-at-home mom for seven years – making the jump back into the career pool a difficult one.  The fact that I have very little (to no) self-confidence didn’t help the matters any.

But I went back to work.  And I sort of…liked it.  Who’d have thought?

That was five years ago.  Since then, a lot has happened in my career (yes, I think I can even call it a “career” now).

I started out working part time.  After a year, I moved to full time.

After three years, I decided that I wanted to make the jump from a temporary government contractor position to an actual government employee.

There were many reasons for taking that step.

For one, working as a contractor is always unsettling.  When your contract is over, there is no guarantee that it will be extended.  Or that you will stay with the same company. Who wants that kind of stress?

Also, although I received a generous salary, I received very little paid time off.   When you have 3 children and you’d like to take a day off to go on a school trip or spend a few hours watching their school talent show or they have to go to the dentist or (God forbid) they get sick (as a mom, you never have enough time to stay home when you are sick)…before you know it, you are have negative time.

The third reason I made that change is that I decided that I want to advance in my career.  I wanted to be in charge of something.  Have some authority.  Receive some training.  Get a promotion.  Have an office with real walls and a door.

So…after about a year of trying, I finally became an official FAA employee almost 2 years ago.  The process was long – and there were several false hopes.  And…I even took a substantial pay cut.  But I made the jump from green to blue (if you work for the FAA, you’ll know what I mean).

I made the change a few weeks before the last furlough, actually.  A few weeks after I started, the FAA had to shut down for 2 weeks.  Figures, right?

I didn’t leave my group to take  the position – or even leave my cubicle – but I did take on new responsibilities…and got more vacation.   And the ability to telework (LOVE teleworking!!!!).

Fast forward one year, and I decided to apply to the Executive Leadership Program (ELP – because if you are in the government, you have to have an acronym).  The ELP is a 9-month program conducted by The Graduate School and is training intended for emerging government leaders.  Who was I kidding, right?

But…I got in!  The FAA is paying for my this fantastic training!!!

I started the program last September and will finish this June.  It has been a HUGE commitment, but has given me so many opportunities.  There are 4 week-long training sessions (I have been to two so far) and a long list of  deliverables including book reviews, executive interviews, shadowing, community service – plus a project and presentation with a team of other government employees.

I had the chance to go to Washington, DC for a week and shadow upper-level FAA managment.  As I sat in a conference room overlooking the Capitol building with important men and women (wearing expensive suits, I may add), I thought – I could DO this.  This feels good!

I also interviewed a Congressman, an astronaut and the president of my son’s college as well as other FAA leaders.  I loved doing the interviews – I actually did even more interviews than were required.

See – here I am with Congressman Frank LoBiondo:


Somtimes I think I’m crazy to have taken on all of these new tasks, but when will I get these opportunities again?

One more update on my career – I also decided to apply for a new FAA job that would be a promotion – and to my surprise, I got an offer.  Not just one offer – but two offers.  So now I have made up for the pay cut that I took two years ago.  Still no office with walls and a door, but I’m getting there.

I started my new job three weeks ago.  Just in time for another furlough…


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