Upon graduating from Virginia Tech, job offers were not beating down my door. Fortunately, my internship at Sciences Applications International Corporation (SAIC) the prior semester gave me an opportunity to work there on a full-time basis. As my first job out of college, I wasn’t being picky and just wanted to get my foot in the door to experience being a working professional.
Our contract was at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital located in Washington DC. At the time, I was living in Herndon, VA, which made my commute almost two hours each way since I was driving. In hindsight, I should’ve paid for a monthly parking spot at the Vienna metro and taken the train to avoid the stress but enjoyed my driving independence during that time.
The actual work consisted of answering IT calls from our customers and making rounds to complete our trouble tickets. On-the-job training was provided and we all had our own toolkits to resolve basic hardware/software/networking problems. We were considered the Tier 1 helpdesk. More advanced issues were handled by our Tier 2 and Tier 3 teams. My work colleagues were friendly and willing to share their knowledge. The satisfaction of resolving a customers’ issue is priceless and plus walking around the massive hospital takes care of your exercise requirements for the day. Answering phone calls was more stressful and at certain times, I did lose my cool with customers because of their attitude. My supervisor had to pull me aside one time to counsel my tone but for the most part, I was calm and composed.
Our company organized several events throughout the year including a picnic, which was the most popular. We met the other SAIC employees scattered around on different contracts and shared ideas. At Walter Reed, our managers frequently held meetings to provide updates and assignment of new tasks which were challenging but enhanced growth. Towards the end of my tenure at SAIC, I started mentoring a new employee on our daily responsibilities giving me a chance to teach what I absorbed for almost 16 months. We became quite close both professionally and personally and still keep in touch.
Unfortunately, the daily grind of the commute contributed in hunting for another job. A government job fair perked my interest and I was offered a position after a full day of interviews. My time at SAIC was memorable and I look back with no regrets. It was a great experience and provided skills which I’m using even today.