POSITION: Contracting Officer/Team Lead
UNIT: Mission and Installation Contracting Command–Fort Bliss/919th Contingency Contracting Battalion
TOTAL YEARS OF ARMY SERVICE: 9
AWARDS: Commander’s Award for Civilian Service
EDUCATION: MBA and B.A. in marketing, University of Texas at El Paso
From Latrines to Role Players: Contracting Requires Depth and Breadth
By Susan L. Follett
Melissa Garcia got her start in contracting by accident. “I responded to a request for resumes for an internship when I was in college, but I wasn’t really sure who I was submitting my resume to,” said Garcia, now contracting officer and team lead for the 919th Contingency Contracting Battalion in the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC). “I got a phone call asking if I was interested in working at Fort Bliss, and when I showed up at the Contracting Office there, I had no clue as to what kind of work they did.”
Fortunately, she’s a quick study. After completing the internship program and a subsequent developmental program, she returned to MICC-Fort Bliss, where she’s been for the past eight years. “The biggest challenge I face is keeping up with all the changes, and making sure we incorporate them into our daily functions,” she said.
Her advice for someone just starting out? “Read, read, read—even if you think what you’re reading doesn’t apply to you. One day, you’ll hear something or see something and a light will go on, and you’ll think, ‘Wait! I read that somewhere,’ and make a connection,” she said. “One of the things people don’t realize is the breadth and depth of knowledge that’s required for contracting, especially at the installation level. One day you’re buying latrines, the next day you’re contracting for role players for a battlefield simulation, and the day after that you’re conducting a site visit. Each new project requires that you become an expert in a new field—and I’m constantly learning. There’s definitely no such thing as a typical day around here.”
FOTF: What do you do and why is it important to the warfighter?
GARCIA: As a contracting officer and team lead with the 919th Contingency Contracting Battalion, I am not only responsible for providing installation contracting support to the warfighter, but I also serve as a mentor to Soldiers entering the acquisition workforce. Ensuring that our Soldiers are equipped with the knowledge they need to deploy into any contingency environment is an integral part of my daily duties.
FOTF: What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved?
GARCIA: I entered the acquisition workforce under the Student Career Experience Program, then applied for and was accepted into the Department of Army Intern Program. Upon entering the intern program I also enrolled in the accelerated MBA program at University of Texas at El Paso and successfully completed both programs. In addition, I had the opportunity to take part in the Army Contracting Command (ACC) developmental program, working at ACC headquarters offices for six months. When I completed that, I was able to return to the installation-level office with a better perspective of the strategic initiatives that drive our leaders.
FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army Acquisition Corps?
GARCIA: My greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army Acquisition Corps is working right alongside the warfighter. Having the opportunity to train and mentor the men and women who are entering the acquisition workforce has reinvigorated my passion for this field. There is no greater pride than knowing that I am part of a team that not only provides acquisition support but also ensures that our Soldiers are ready and deployable by giving them all the tools they will require to successfully complete their mission.
- “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.
Subscribe to Access AL&T is the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce.