Contract Manager Finds ‘Second Home’ at NSA
March 22, 2021
Christine K. never gave up on her goal of working at NSA – it is a career path she had been thinking about since high school. It just took a few years for the right opportunity to come at the right time.
While busy earning her degree in communication studies with a minor in business administration at Towson University, Christine worked full-time. Her experience included an array of positions – as a surgical coordinator for an orthopedic practice, in publishing and marketing, and as the manager of an equestrian center, a familiar environment being an accomplished equestrian herself.
But what she really wanted was a career with a mission, an example she saw at home.
Christine’s family is a military family (her father served in the Navy), and she wanted a career, like his, that would give her a sense of purpose. “I saw how he was fulfilled in his career, and I wanted that same type of purpose,” she says.
When one of her co-workers was hired at NSA, she decided to give it one last try to join the agency and attended a recruiting session. “It definitely was worth the wait,” she says.
Now she is a contract manager at NSA. In that role she works hand-in-hand with business and finance managers to ensure contracts run smoothly, and that projects have enough funding.
“I use my major every day,” she says. “I am happy because I paid for my own schooling, so I feel fortunate to use both my major and my minor.”
Many people may not realize how business ties into the agency, she explains, but business professionals are needed to support the mission, making sure efforts are supported and funded so they can be completed.
Aside from the opportunity to put her skills to work to advance the agency’s mission, Christine also appreciates NSA’s flexible work environment. “It is a huge plus,” she says. “Hours are extremely flexible, so if something comes up, like grad school, you have the time to make time for class and your personal life.”
A flexible schedule allows her to adjust her workday, which often starts early and ends early, leaving her enough daylight hours to go riding at her family horse farm nearly every day. That flexible schedule also will help when Christine heads back to school to earn an MBA in either finance or leadership. She has applied to programs and expects to begin her studies next year.
Since starting at NSA, Christine has found a supportive network helping to guide her career path. “It is very easy to network,” she says. “I have gone to lots of events here and they have all been positive.”
Networking helped her to connect with two mentors she says are a perfect fit. One is in a leadership role and helps her to visualize a long-term path, and another helps her with beginner- to mid-level goals. She hopes to return that support by becoming a mentor herself someday. For now, she plans to get involved in the recruiting process at her alma mater.
“Everyone here has been extremely friendly, which can make or break a job,” she says. She has enjoyed getting to know her fellow employees even better through community building activities at work, like bowling. Employees are awarded 12 hours of morale-building time per year that can be used inside or outside the building.
Although she had a long-standing desire to work at NSA, Christine says that once she arrived there were still some things that surprised her.
“I wasn’t expecting the flexibility, that is something I never had,” she says. “I never had leadership that was 100 percent supportive of grad school; I never had the support of people who wanted me to better myself; and I never worked where it was actually fun to come to work.”
Christine says she was also surprised to see so many women leaders at NSA. Leadership is something she aspires to at the agency, where she says she is very comfortable and can see opportunities for advancement.
“It’s like a second home.”