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NEWS | Oct. 5, 2021

AMCOM Logistics Center ‘builds the bench’ with internship program

By Michelle L. Gordon

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Logistics Center leadership realized their workforce was growing closer to retirement, which is why they started an internship program more than a decade ago.

“This program helps us do what I call ‘build the bench’ so we can train these employees to be the future of logistics,” said Lisa Thomas, human resources division chief.

Thomas said although the internship program is an important ALC recruitment tool, it is situation-based and reassessed at the start of each Army fiscal year to ensure funding is available and the mission is still viable. The team also looks at the number of entry-level vacancies at the ALC.

“Funding is one of the most important factors, but we also work with the activity career program managers to determine if it’s feasible to host a class the following year,” she said. “We don’t just recruit a class after the current one graduates; there has to be a need.”

The current program is open to recent or upcoming college graduates. Thomas said her team coordinates with the career services departments at colleges to host recruitment sessions targeting students in specific degree fields with high-grade point averages. The in-person sessions are traditionally held in the spring.

The preferred degree programs include: logistics supply chain management, business management, business analytics, accounting or finance, and computer science. There are no applications to fill out, but each candidate must provide a resume; on-the-spot interviews may be offered.

The program is a three-year, full-time internship with the first nine to 10 months in an academic environment. The interns are Department of the Army civilians and begin their career as a GS-5 in life cycle logistics career fields. At the end of the program, interns will have progressed through the General Schedule system to ultimately graduate the program as a GS-11.

“The majority of their first year is classroom training to teach them the basic functions and the theory behind what we do here and how our business operates,” said Intern Program Supervisor Dianna Westbrook. “This year we wanted to add rotations to incorporate more hands-on training to give them an opportunity to see some of the things they are learning about in action but, due to the pandemic and the COVID-19 numbers rising, that was not a possibility this year.”

The majority of the classes are taught by current AMCOM employees, but Westbrook is quick to point out they are not all part of the ALC workforce.

“The interns are not just learning logistics,” she said. “They are also learning about human capital and resource management. It’s important for them to learn those things because all of it impacts logistics. A huge part of the training program is helping them see the bigger picture. We don’t operate on our own; we are a machine and it’s important for them to understand how the machine works as a whole, not just one piece of it.”

Like many classrooms across the world, the ALC intern program class went virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Derrick Ervin was part of the class and said it was different at first, but he adjusted and it became normal.

“To be honest, I was anticipating hiccups because I know AMCOM was learning this whole COVID-19 process along with us, but I would say they exceeded my expectations,” Ervin said. “It was difficult at first because I was used to a traditional classroom setting where it’s easy to reach out to an instructor in the classroom or talk to your peers during a break but, once we got settled in the virtual environment, it was pretty easy. We even set up additional virtual meetings outside of work, so we could talk or go over a slide deck.”

Now in his second year of the program, Ervin said he primarily works with two different computer platforms to ensure the supply chain remains in balance. He enjoys being part of the process of taking care of the warfighters.

He said, “When you think about the Soldiers in the field — they need certain things — and nothing is more gratifying than helping them out to make sure they have exactly what they need.”

The decision to host an ALC internship class for the coming year will be announced in early 2022. Interested applicants should contact their school career services department for upcoming information session dates.