By Frank Whitman, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas Public Affairs
ASAN, Guam (NNS) -- Twenty-five college students spent their 2018 summer break getting valuable hands-on work experience as paid interns in the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas Summer Hire Program.
Beginning May 29, the interns, mostly engineering and business students, reported for standard eight-hour workdays and were mentored by NAVFAC Marianas personnel in offices throughout the command. The Summer Hire Program is part of an ongoing initiative by NAVFAC Marianas to support education in Guam and help grow a strong local workforce.
Mentors in the program shared their professional knowledge and experience to serve as positive professional role models for the students as they make decisions about their post-graduation careers. Mentors also help the Navy identify particularly competent students to be recruited for future employment by the Navy, which is considered a choice employer.
“The Summer Hire Program is a great opportunity to get college students who have mad skills a peek at potential opportunities in careers with NAVFAC,” said NAVFAC Marianas Business Director Dr. Sam Roundtree. “This program will allow us to continue grooming a pool of local candidates here and to continue a pretty rich legacy of being able to provide facility engineering and products and services to the Department of Defense components on island as well as the local community.”
In addition to learning about career opportunities with the Navy, students said the program helped them see the practical aspects of their studies.
“This is different from what we learn in the classroom,” said Mary Catherine Wiley, a third-year University of Guam (UOG) accounting student from Palau who was one of four interns assigned to the NAVFAC Marianas Asset Management Department. “It’s really hands-on. I’ve learned so much; I just want to take it all in.”
Of the 25 summer hires, six listed their majors as being in engineering disciplines.
“I wanted to make sure that the engineering students actually experienced engineering,” said NAVFAC Marianas Chief Engineer Arlene Aromin who oversaw the mentoring of several interns.
University of Hawai’i mechanical engineering student Kevin Singeo, a summer hire in the Capital Improvements Department, said he benefited from the interaction with the NAVFAC engineers. “It’s really good just being around other engineers,” he said. “I wanted experience in mechanical engineering - reading plans and looking at ducts and HVAC systems. My mentor is a mechanical engineer, so I’ve been learning a lot.”
Several of the students in the Summer Hire Program said that in addition to the hands-on practical work experience, the program gave them insight into working for the Navy and influenced their career plans.
“Once I finish school, hopefully one day I’ll move home (to Guam) and help better the island,” said summer hire Anaka Bamba Muna, a civil engineering major at Las Positas College in Livermore, California who was born in Guam where she lived until she was in high school. “The ultimate goal is to make myself useful to my home. I would definitely consider NAVFAC as somewhere to apply for a job.”
Environmental Department summer hire Candice Arceo, who is studying for her master’s degree in environmental science at UOG, applied for the Summer Hire Program because she hopes to work for NAVFAC Marianas after she receives her degree.
“I thought it would be a good idea to work as an intern, make contacts, network and get some experience,” she said. “I’m learning a lot about environmental compliance and regulation side, updating permits, how we keep track of making sure everything is compliant with EPA.”
A unique niche in the NAVFAC Environmental Department was filled by Roke Calvo, a fine arts major at UOG. “We have a lot of technical people in our office,” said Supervisory Environmental Protection Specialist Rolfe Banes, Calvo’s mentor. “Details are probably our strong suit, but getting a simple message across to the widest audience possible is not the easiest thing for our technical folks. So merging Roke’s talent set with our information and getting it out was an effective way to introduce him to NAVFAC and to what NAVFAC does.”
Calvo helped design and produce flyers and similar materials to educate the public about endangered and invasive species. “NAVFAC is not just engineers and scientists,” Banes said. “We have a lot of people that have different talent sets that ultimately help us meet our customers’ requirements. Even though it didn’t seem like a straightforward fit at first, a visual artist is someone who can advance our support for our customers.”
Aromin said she knows firsthand the impact a summer hire program can have. “I was in a summer intern program while attending college in the U.S. mainland,” she said. “That experience helped me decide to come home after graduation and work on island. I’m still here 25 years later. If we show the students there are competitive, rewarding jobs on island, they will come back or stay to serve the island.”