In 2008 as I was finishing my Masters degree, I joined the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) – a federal program co-sponsored by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Department of Defense that recruits and connects federal and private sector employers with highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities for summer or regular full time jobs.
At the time I had not heard of ODEP or the WRP. When the WRP was started in 1995, it was still in its infancy in relation to other federal programs. Yet, it was able to provide a wealth of opportunities to a vast number of individuals, including me.
There is an old axiom; it is not what you know, it is who you know. What it does not say is that who you know gets you to the door, but what you know will keep you there. One of the key assets of the WRP program is that it yields tremendous networking opportunities. For example, I was chosen for a summer internship program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During this internship I was fortunate enough to meet many wonderful people and create valuable connections that I will probably have for many years to come. The individuals I worked with tried valiantly to find me a full time position with DHS. The important thing to take away is that the people I worked with went out of their way to help me.
Shortly after my internship at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center I was contacted by Michael Young, District Director for the Wage Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor, in Jacksonville Florida. Unlike the internship with Homeland Security, this was for a full time permanent position as a Wage Hour Investigator. The DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for enforcing some of our nation’s most comprehensive federal labor laws on topics, including the minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, child labor and special employment, family and medical leave, migrant workers, lie detector tests, worker protections in certain temporary worker programs, and the prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts. I have been an Investigator for the Wage and Hour Division since November 2009, thanks in large part to the Workforce Recruitment Program.
Additionally, the program offers experience in several other key areas. Some of the more vital areas in which students are able to enrich themselves are: written and verbal communication, time management, organization, computer and technical skills, and corporate behaviors and structures. It was through the Workforce Recruitment Program that I learned, enhanced, and perfected these skills as I continued on in the workforce.
Editor’s Note: The author, Kevin Sheil is a former Workforce Recruitment Program intern who now works as a Wage Hour Investigator for the Wage and Hour Division. This is the first of a series of posts by Mr. Sheil highlighting the various skills, abilities, and knowledge that can be acquired through the WRP.