USACE FED Workforce Recruitment Program internship proves talent comes in many forms

Justina Chang (left), Far East District Workforce Recruitment Program intern, stands with Johnny Howard (right), Information Management Office chief, during her farewell luncheon at the headquarters building, Aug. 12. The Workforce Recruitment Program, or WRP, is a national recruitment program that helps federal sector employers hire college students and recent graduates with disabilities for temporary or permanent positions. (Courtesy photo)
Justina Chang (left), Far East District Workforce Recruitment Program intern, stands with Johnny Howard (right), Information Management Office chief, during her farewell luncheon at the headquarters building, Aug. 12. The Workforce Recruitment Program, or WRP, is a national recruitment program that helps federal sector employers hire college students and recent graduates with disabilities for temporary or permanent positions. (Courtesy photo)

USACE FED Workforce Recruitment Program internship proves talent comes in many forms

by Yohan An
US Army Corps of Engineers Far East District

At the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Far East District (FED), efforts to diversify the workforce are strengthened through the Workforce Recruitment Program.

The Workforce Recruitment Program, or WRP, is a national recruitment program that helps federal sector employers hire college students and recent graduates with disabilities for temporary or permanent positions. WRP is sponsored by the Departments of Defense and Labor to increase the number of individuals with disabilities in the workforce.

Through FED’s annual 14-week paid WRP internship program, the District hired Justina Chang, who attends the University of Maryland and majors in general studies.

“I have learning disabilities. There are times I may not understand something clearly, especially when I learn new, unfamiliar things,” Chang said. “I was so grateful that everyone here showed me steps slowly and wisely. I really enjoyed working here.”

Chang served as an office support assistant for the District, working in the Customer Service Branch of the Information Management Office from May to August.

While interning with the Customer Service Branch, Chang was trained to inventory equipment, label equipment for cybersecurity requirements, and organize inventory to meet the 5Ss of Lean processes (5S stands for Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain). She used this training to organize and label a storage room containing new equipment and repair items for all the automation used by the District.

“Chang helped us turn in 100s of old and excess items. Her labeling of the cabinets has saved the technicians time when looking for replacement or repair items,” said Johnny Howard, Information Management Office chief. “Chang also worked in the mailroom where she picked up, delivered and sorted mail. She is a quick learner that tackled all assigned tasks and finished them faster than anticipated.”

Chang’s plan after the internship is to go back to school, finish her remaining four courses before graduation and apply for positions in federal agencies.

Looking back, Chang said her time at FED has proven invaluable, and she’s hopeful it might lead to a permanent job with the government.

“Here, I am accepted for who I am, and I don’t have to be someone that I am not,” said Chang. “I can just be who I am, and I don’t have to pretend that I’m okay when I’m not. That is the greatest part of it.”

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