Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs

Recommended Posts

Guest Prospect

I'm a Navy veteran in my late 20s who will graduate from college soon with a business degree (very good grades). I've been encouraged to think about seeking a job as a "contract specialist" with the Department of Defense in an office like the Naval Air Systems Command or the Army Contracting Command. The job "sounds" good as it's been presented to me, but something makes me suspect it sounds a little too good. I've done some research and have had some advice and coaching. But I would like to ask two questions based on the experiences of people who are actually doing or who have actually done that work.

Based on your experiences:

1. About what percentage of your time annually is or was devoted to routine administrative paperwork, such as reporting, file management, etc.

2. About what percentage of your time annually is or was devoted to interesting professional work, such as meeting with contractors, planning, negotiating, analyzing and actually writing contract terms, reading and analyzing proposals, and advising and briefing program managers and other higher-ups.

I realize of course that I wouldn't be doing those interesting things right away and that I'd have to undergo a period of training. I also realize that all jobs involve some drudge. But I wonder just what kind of job I would be training for in the long term.

Bottom line: I'm not seeking more advice or guidance and I know that this is not scientific polling. I'm just wondering, casually, if based on your experience the work is (A) mostly "cool" or (B) mostly drudge.

I want work that's mostly cool.

Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on (1) the culture of your organization; and (2) your own willingness to engage.

I'm towards the end of my career, and I have had a lot of great experiences -- the 1102 series is very well-graded and has opportunities in every state and around the world.

I made my work cool -- in most of my jobs, my willingness to engage was appreciated -- but in a few jobs, the organizational culture was a killer.  If you end up in a drudge office where your willingness to engage will cause others to hate you, you will want to transfer elsewhere.  You have to look for good assignments, and good opportunities in any office where you are assigned.

Best wishes!

Link to post
Share on other sites

You do realize that what you have posed is a kind of Rorschach test.  I suppose that you hope to learn the general tilt of the land. Keep in mind, however, as ji20874 indicated that  many conditions people encounter and comment on  are local and can be avoided in the long run.

My own observation is that novelty seeking fits well with almost all jobs I've had in the career field. I can imagine others in the same positions being content doing as much as 80% routine work.  In contrast if more than half my effort becomes routine then I start looking at how to increase depth/breadth of the effort I make or the responsibilities I seek and accept in the current or next position.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in agreement with the other posters.    

The office culture and the type of contracting they do matters a great deal.  To do the cool stuff you first have to have know how to do the boring stuff.    You don't like doing the boring stuff, neither does your boss.  And guess who assigns the work?  Sorta like a Seaman's job vs a Chief Petty Officer.

Personally, I find I am satisfied with the amount of cool stuff I do on a day to day basis.  I work for a small agency, which means we 1102s can't be too specialized.  And I only work with IT, which is often complicated and employs a lot of different contracting techniques.  So lots of novelty. 

Today's Backlog as of now. I'll probably only do two or three of these today:

  • For a single-award BPA for IT services, tell the contractor we all agree, negotiations are over, and prepare the award (boring)
  • For another single-award BPA for IT services, finish updating the Task Order term and conditions, send RFP to contractor.  We are expecting contentious negotiations so I am being very deliberate (not boring).
  • Deal with a super-difficult customer who doesn't know what they want, but knows they want it now, and knows how much it will cost, so what's the hold up? (not boring).
  • Review and approve some option exercises and administrative modifications (boring)
  • Finish writing an 8(a) Offering Letter (boring)
  • Update my statuses (very boring).
  • Figure out what to do about a contractor that has unfinished work, that the PM doesn't like, and whose entire team working on my task was recently poached by a competitor (not boring).
  •  Send option notices (the most boring possible thing in the world).

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest PepeTheFrog
6 hours ago, Prospect said:

I want work that's mostly cool.

Yes, you do. So do other people. On the way to doing mostly or exclusively "cool" work, you will need to perform years of drudgery. Finding a federal employee contracting job that isn't drudgery can be very difficult. Most or nearly all of them require lots of drudgery. 

Keep a healthy perspective. As much as everyone rags on how boring and tedious contracting can be, you will not be breaking your back or inhaling chemicals. You will sit in a chair and slowly die of poor posture and low testosterone levels. White-collar heaven!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe @Prospect was simply looking for two answers:

8 hours ago, Prospect said:

Based on your experiences:

1. About what percentage of your time annually is or was devoted to routine administrative paperwork, such as reporting, file management, etc.[?]

2. About what percentage of your time annually is or was devoted to interesting professional work, such as meeting with contractors, planning, negotiating, analyzing and actually writing contract terms, reading and analyzing proposals, and advising and briefing program managers and other higher-ups[?]

*question marks added

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious Prospect, what were you looking for?  Every job has some mundane or routine elements to it. Being able to apply critical thinking, appreciate the details, and making sound business decisions is critical for this job series.  The answer to your questions is it depends as it is highly dependent on the office you work in. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

If @Prospect is still around, I can tell you from my experience (23 years in this industry), that while the job may SOUND boring, it can be quite interesting.  Contracts management requires a variety of skills (negotiation, market research, financial analysis, etc.) and I've found throughout my career that no two days are the same and I am constantly facing new challenges.  I personally would go crazy if I had a repetitive job that was the same thing every day.  At least in my experience, that has not been the case and I have really enjoyed my career.   

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...