What’s the longest job you’ve ever had? What’s it like when it ends? For me it’s nine years, and last Friday was the final day of it. After a four-year contract, an additional four-year recompete win, then capped off by a one-year extension, my position as a communications consultant within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security came to a close. What’s next?
I’ve been in the media production and creative communications field ever since walking into a small television station in my Florida hometown looking for an extra paycheck from part-time weekend work. Over the next 18 years I had the wonderful opportunity to learn almost everything including video and photo cameras, studio soundboards, “chyron” graphics, and video editing (first with “tape to tape” then digital “non-linear” editing).
A few years after moving to the DC area I was found by a small consulting firm that had just won a creative communications contract and was looking for a specific set of skills. After a quick interview and hiring process, I began working on projects as a videographer and video producer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
Other than having the time and freedom to improve my videography and editing skills, the best part of the job was the people I worked with. I quickly became friends with my co-workers (even going to one of their weddings later this month) and wanting to remain around them is what kept me at my job even when other opportunities popped up. Paychecks are nice, but being able to work with awesome, fun, hardworking people is truly special and rare.
Of course, the travel was nice, too! Many projects involved figuring out how to promote new technologies, techniques, and programs that DHS was working on to improve the lives, effectiveness, and safety of first responders across the country. Being able to go meet and get to know these police officers, firefighters, emergency managers, and security researchers from places such as Stockton (California), New York City, Manhattan (Kansas), and Kearney (Nebraska) was always an educational and entertaining experience. And yes, there’s always lots of profanity when hanging around those folks – If I hadn’t already have been in the military I would have picked up some very bad habits!
Knowing the date was approaching was sad. Now that it’s gone I still find myself waking up around 6:30 and wondering why I don’t have so many zoom meetings during the day. I wonder how long it will take for my brain to finally get used to not having the routines I had for so long?
Soon I’ll seek out a new opportunity – perhaps even a new career path outside of federal contracting or even creative communications work. I’m at the comfortable point in my life where I value working for a good cause and a worthy mission more than a large pay increase, so the opportunities are wide open. For now I’m going to be focusing on the campaign for County Board by building up my organization and messaging for 2022 or 2023. I could really use your help in the effort, though! Introduce your friends and family in Arlington to my campaign, which can be found at https:///www.TheoForArlington.org and @TheoForARL on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). And of course donate what you can to enable me to build up my infrastructure and critical voter data – even $25 helps.