USACE - Far East District Public Affairs
SEOUL, South Korea -- Summer internships are something like a rite of passage for many young adults looking for guidance, a career or hands-on experience in the working world. For students attending or recently graduated from high school, the Yongsan Civilian Personnel Advisory Office delivered an internship program that offered a little bit of everything.
Working at the Far East District’s headquarters compound allowed students Morgen A. Dunleavy, Alexander Bronkar, Jasmine C. Felton, Andrew Clark and Sumaiya S. Irfan a chance to sample some potential future career options.
The interns were assigned to a variety of duties and locations, from working as a mail clerk assistant to helping with training and operations, to the security office.
But internship wasn’t a free ride. Each intern had to work under the same conditions as their coworkers. On their first day, they were administered the oath of allegiance while being sworn in at the CPAC office—just like any other new civilian hire.
Interns were offered the chance to choose their location, but not necessarily the jobs available. Student interns are required to work eight hours per day for five days a week, and earn $6 per hour.
Interns brought new perspective into their work spaces; in some cases, they brought new approaches as well. Jasmine Felton worked an earlier rotation in the security office, and also brought new ideas to the technology used in tracking and processing access requests, completing more than 40 access request responses in about three and a half weeks.
Sumaiya Irfan chose working for the Far East District because her father worked here from 2006 to 2010, but her assignment to the Security Office was random. The nature of the position meant an extra step in applying and waiting for her own security release, but every intern had to complete the cyber security training to be given network access.
Afterward, Irfan had the access afforded by such training and vetting. On her first day, she attended a division chiefs meeting.
Experiences like this provided her with insights into the District’s decision-making process, Irfan said. “The most interesting part was being able to sit into a meeting and watch each branch give a summary of the past month. I watched how each branch condensed their work into a PowerPoint presentation and presented their work to the District Commander.”
Not every experience was conducted in the office. Sometimes, they had to learn by walking around.
“Because it was Korean vacation season, there wasn’t much (office work) to do in the security office,” Irfan said. She learned from District Security Manager Joel Odell about how to conduct a perimeter inspection, and why weeds should be removed from around the fence line (because it obscures signage identifying the installation.)
Irfan used these insights, her own creativity, as well as the time she had on her hands, to develop an innovative way to streamline the pass and ID process using SharePoint.
Morgen Dunleavy used her time to reorganize, digitize and reduce hard-copy plans and operations documents, and turned in excess and inoperable computers from the Emergency Operations Center. She also updated an outdated roster of engineers and created an employee training tracking program which streamlines and reduces the impact of employee training.
For 18 to 22-year-old students, summer internship opportunities are available for two different 4-week sessions at the high school level and one college-level session.
Applicants for the program provided four-page packets of basic information, Irfan said. A week or two before being assigned, she received an email asking about her job location preferences, but not specific jobs.
Irfan said she’d come back again if circumstances permit, and recommends the program.
“Although the branch I was assigned to has nothing to do with my major (biomedical sciences), I hope that broadening my range of experience will help me once I seriously begin to search for a job,” Irfan said. “If you want to get a knowledge of how the government works, you should apply for this program.”