New Beginnings in DC

by Just Juan
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“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it” – Lou Holtz

As I wrote a couple of months ago, the goal is to secure my dream job as a Foreign Service Facility Manager. For much of the past 2 years, I’ve been working extremely hard on breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling. Last December, I completed my master’s program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, earning my degree in facility management. I cemented it by walking across the stage a couple of months ago. With my acquisition of the Facility Management Professional designation by IFMA, I’ve earned a professional credential…and the post-nominals needed to complete Item 33 of my bucket list. I’ve made tremendous strides in my professional association by finding a spot under the wings of some heavy hitters in the facility management world, courtesy of IFMA. But the biggest piece of the puzzle was finding a job in an agency that would allow me to grow. For as much of a blessing that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been for me—professionally, personally, financially, socially—there is a clear ceiling and I feel like I reached it a long time ago. Fortunately, for me, I have what I think is a great opportunity on the immediate horizon.

This coming Monday, I will make my debut at the U.S. Department of the Interior as a member of the Branch of Building Operations, which is part of the Office of Facilities & Administrative Services (OFAS) under the Office of the Secretary umbrella. I accepted their GS-12 Building Management Specialist position 2 months back and now I’m just a weekend away from a new era in my professional career. It’s a promotion as I’ll cross over the $75000 per year mark, which is a 5-digit increase over what I’m making as a GS-11, Step 3 but most of that will probably be negated by my moving back into the ridiculously overpriced Washington, DC area housing market.

In this position, I’m responsible for assisting in the development, implementation, administration, scheduling, coordination, evaluation, and documentation of all aspects of facilities management, maintenance and repair, and alterations programs throughout the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior and South Interior Buildings and, as required, at Departmental locations throughout the metropolitan Washington, DC area. I’ll get to conduct facility surveys and inspections, work with utility consumption, develop cost estimates, author white papers and high-level reports, and oversee facility management support services. That last part is the reward for me: I get to lead such efforts.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a trip up to DC to do some house-hunting and while I was in town, I took a tour of the 2 facilities I’ll be working in. I was super impressed. The building is massive. There are 7 office floors, a basement level, a penthouse level, an entire maintenance floor, an underground garage, and a colossal maintenance plant. Though I’m there to keep the building upright, I couldn’t help but notice the amenities: a full-service cafeteria, a bank, a post office, a gymnasium, a convenience store, a museum, a library, and a medical clinic. To steal a line from The Canadian Cutie: “Jeez Louise”. I met a couple of the people I’ll be working with and they seemed very pleasant. I’m excited to get started.

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