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cwish001  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:48:30 PM(UTC)

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It is finally starting to hit me. I just accepted a job offer for a GS-11 position with a starting pay more than I ever imagined. All of this just came out of left field and I am just caught up in a wave. I had a four year enlistment and left the navy as a IT2 (E-5) in June 2005. After that I started college and have been in school ever since. I really like the systems administration field and did that in the navy and various and my current job while attending school even though my degree will be in management (go figureSmile) I know that I am really good at what I do and I love to do it and I also knew that I wanted work in IT after school. I was suppose to graduate in December so I thought I would get a head start on the job search this summer. I started looking at government IT jobs on usajobs.com because I thought I might have a advantage with my military background. The search was frustrating because I had trouble understanding the job announcements and the qualifications usually where above me. I told my supervisor about my frustrations and he set me down and told me that I really didn't understand how good at this field I am and basically that I am in fact very qualified. That gave me a boost of confidence and I came across a posting for a IT Specialist Position that the description seemed to be made just for me! The qualifications weren't, three years experience at GS-9 or equivalent or a PHD in Computer Science (Wow). I really thought I wasn't qualified but I knew that I could excel at all aspects of this job so I put in my application anyways. A couple weeks later I got a notice that the position had been closed so I thought that was that. Two weeks ago they called me and asked if I could come in for a interview. I really was amazed I even went to the university career center and spoke with a adviser to help me get ready for the interview. When I came into the interview there was a panel of three people and we really just hit it off. It was the only interview that had ever made be blush because of the complements they kept saying about me (during the interview!?) They made it very clear that if I was going to get the position I would have to start within a few weeks after the offer and they asked me about my school schedule and told me they would look into if I could make the 40hr on the weekend (I had set everything this semester on Tuesday and Thursday). I got a call on Monday and was told that I would have to work 40hr during the work week 9-5 and that this wasn't a job offer they just wanted to know if I was still interested (I said yes). Today (Wednesday) at 2:30 PM I just got offered the position which is at a GS-11 step 1 !!! I really can't believe it!? I still have four classes before I get my Bachelors so I worked out a plan with the school so that I can take two classes online this semester and two next semester or even transfer from the local college. This all really caught me off guard, I just finished moving into my new apartment and now I am going to have to move or commute (about 1 and 1/2 hours away). I am trying to wrap things up a work and find a replacement. I just turned 27 years old, is that typical for a GS-11? I say this because I am concerned about how I will fit in at work or where I will fit in to say. On the interview panel there was the IT Director, Software Engineer, and the other IT Specialist (at the name position). The youngest one was maybe in their mid to upper forties. What kind of awareness or tact do I need to display. I don't want to come off as arrogant or anything and I really am a nice guy. I am also looking for a relationship, I am not saying it will be at work, but things like that do happen. Do the same military rules apply, that is would it be inappropriate for a GS-11 to have a relationship with say a E-5. What is it like to be a GS-11, how are those sort of positions regarded in federal (military) hierarchy. I know these seem like silly questions but I just don't want to misstep in my first "real" job since the navy.
vtguy22  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:21:49 PM(UTC)

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Congrats on the new job!

I can help with a couple of your questions.

Mid-20's is about right for a starting GS-11 in IT from what I've seen. By then you've either worked up from the bottom, or come in with enough experience or education to qualify.

I've worked in 2 IT shops with the government, I'm sure they are widely different, but I have noticed a few things. GS and military rank aren't really equivalent. The person with the most knowledge is generally deferred to, not the highest pay grade. Depending on your shop you may have (by far) the most current skill set, don't be surprised if the software you are working with is older than you and written in a language you don't know. Business knowledge is generally more valuable than system knowledge, so keep that in mind. Form your own judgements about the users, and systems. My current shop is very negative, and I've found it's because the group is spoiled and have never worked in the private sector. Foster a good relationship with the user community, listen to them. Someday you may want to jump out of IT and it will be very helpful to have friends on the "outside." I was in a user meeting last week and was told how refreshing it was to have someone from IT not sitting there saying "No, No, No..." to all of their ideas. That will go a long way.

I made the mistake in my youth of wanting to fix the way things are, pay attention and realize what is within your ability and what is outside your control. Keep a paper trail and CYA is another good bit of advice. If you aren't comfortable with what you are being told to do, bring it up (ask for a clarification) and document it.

Other than that just pay attention to what you see, not what you are told when you start. You'll quickly see who is competent, who is just BS'ing their way through life, etc. Don't come in with a slew of improvements, and expect support. Watch and learn, and figure out how to play the game (working for the government is one huge game).
RocketCity  
#3 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:07:24 AM(UTC)

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Congratulations on the new job! Based on what you wrote, you must have really impressed the Interview Panel members.

While I'm not a GS employee, I have worked around many GS employees over the years. Here's the best advice I can offer to start and grow your new career: Be professional, be tactful, be motivated, always be a team player and be willing to help, be yourself, have fun and look for ways to set yourself apart from your peers (additional education/training, new experiences, etc) and finally set carrer goals for yourself and strive to achieve them.

Good luck!
Knight  
#4 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:50:54 AM(UTC)

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We have had similar paths except I am 20 years older. After I retired I went to college for a MIS degree and got hired before I finished. I am now a CIO but I feel I should have spent longer as a tech.

Many people dream to end their career as an 11 and you are starting there. The others gave good advice and I really only have two things more right now.

Don't rush to go higher just for the money. You are getting around 55k (maybe more depending on location). That is not chump change. Enjoy your time and learn the job basics, build a solid working knowledge of your field and then move up, eventually to that CIO spot if you want it. DO what you love, the money will follow.

Put as much in your TSP as you can. $16,500 (that is roughly 30% of your pay) is the 2009 limit. 5% is what many will say but that is the minimum. Remember the TSP is your major retirement item, max it as much as you can now, and make it grow.

These are my opinions, your mileage may vary.
ChillinOut  
#5 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 5:40:48 AM(UTC)

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I'm not an IT person, but come from a background where it is not unusual for a talented person under age 30 to be a GS-11 or 12 or even a 13.

By way of some constructive feedback, I want to suggest that you divide future posts on this web site into about a half dozen paragraphs or so.
cwish001  
#6 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 7:57:25 AM(UTC)

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Thanks for everyone's answers. Sorry about the big block of text (constructive feedback is always welcome).

I really do want to spent some quality time as a experienced tech before leaving that for management. I wouldn't mind not moving again for about a year or so (this move will be #17 since high school).

Thanks for all the words of support.
DGBSA  
#7 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:09:34 PM(UTC)

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I too was just hired as a GS11 (IRS AGENT), but unlike cwish001 age 27 and Knight with an additional 20, I am 58.

This is a second career or return to the professional environment. My professional career in the private sector included many years at positions significantly higher in both responsibility and pay.

I also applied for an announcement at the 12 and 13 levels and have been notified that I was qualified but was only categorized at the "B" level. Now hired, I don't know if one's application continues to work through the system.

My questions:

I wonder if I will be allowed to fit into a group of employees and coworkers who may be significantly younger than I am?

I wonder if I will be given equal opportunities to achieve additional advancement if I so desire?

Although I don't consider myself old or for that matter think or act my chronological age, I wonder if being only a GS11 at a more senior age bracket will be considered negative by peer and management?

Thank you in advance for you thoughts and help.
PattyPies  
#8 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:23:47 PM(UTC)

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quote:
Originally posted by DGBSA:
I too was just hired as a GS11 (IRS AGENT), but unlike cwish001 age 27 and Knight with an additional 20, I am 58.

I also applied for an announcement at the 12 and 13 levels and have been notified that I was qualified but was only categorized at the "B" level. Now hired, I don't know if one's application continues to work through the system.

My questions:

I wonder if I will be allowed to fit into a group of employees and coworkers who may be significantly younger than I am?

Most likely alot of your co-workers will be near your age (I'm 58 myself though I've been with the IRS 19 years). A large percentage of us are getting ready to retire in the next 3 - 5 years (myself included) but as long as you're decent, don't act like you know everything (even if you know more than your co-workers) and be friendly you'll be o.k.

I wonder if I will be given equal opportunities to achieve additional advancement if I so desire?

You have to have a year in grade before you're eligible for any promotions. You'll be eligible to compete for other jobs after that (in LMSB if that's where you want to go) but there's also promotion potential in SBSE (I'm a 13). When I started it was no uncommon to take 12-15 years or MORE to get a promotion past the GS-11 level. Now they're coming out with promotions more frequently but the competition is defintely stiffer.

Although I don't consider myself old or for that matter think or act my chronological age, I wonder if being only a GS11 at a more senior age bracket will be considered negative by peer and management? When I started I was almost 40 and had just graduated from college. I was the oldest one in my office and started as a GS-7 - it's never worked against me. I've been with the IRS (in three different states) and never had a problem.

Thank you in advance for you thoughts and help.
vtguy22  
#9 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 6:09:48 PM(UTC)

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Posts: 33

quote:
Originally posted by DGBSA:
I too was just hired as a GS11 (IRS AGENT), but unlike cwish001 age 27 and Knight with an additional 20, I am 58.

This is a second career or return to the professional environment. My professional career in the private sector included many years at positions significantly higher in both responsibility and pay.

I also applied for an announcement at the 12 and 13 levels and have been notified that I was qualified but was only categorized at the "B" level. Now hired, I don't know if one's application continues to work through the system.

My questions:

I wonder if I will be allowed to fit into a group of employees and coworkers who may be significantly younger than I am?

I wonder if I will be given equal opportunities to achieve additional advancement if I so desire?

Although I don't consider myself old or for that matter think or act my chronological age, I wonder if being only a GS11 at a more senior age bracket will be considered negative by peer and management?

Thank you in advance for you thoughts and help.


It probably depends on the office. In our office we have a group in age from our 20ish intern to guys around 60. I haven't noticed any problems, as long as you are a decent person and have a sense of humor you should be fine. I've noticed by the time people hit their 30's it's family time and age differences become less of an issue.
Knight  
#10 Posted : Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:45:30 PM(UTC)

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quote:
I wonder if I will be allowed to fit into a group of employees and coworkers who may be significantly younger than I am?


You won't be card checked at the door. In our agency we run the age gambit from 20's to 60's and people of all ages mix and match along interests.

quote:
I wonder if I will be given equal opportunities to achieve additional advancement if I so desire?


Shoot you may be pushed up the hill faster then you want. Being 45 and and retired NCO I was looked at to move up ASAP.

quote:
Although I don't consider myself old or for that matter think or act my chronological age, I wonder if being only a GS11 at a more senior age bracket will be considered negative by peer and management?



That may be the hardest one and your agency may be different but most offices allow a person to find their own level and work there. We have a 62 yo, can retire anytime, GS-6. He is content, works hard but has no need to move up. We also have a 60 lady who just stepped down as a GS-13 to a GS-10 to cut her stress.

Your mileage may vary but I think you will find the Gov't to be a new home as long as you want it.
Cheezsamich  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, September 1, 2009 5:02:48 AM(UTC)

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Good place to start your career. I've been working in gov. for ten years now and am 33. You should have no problem promoting up the GS scale if you work hard and seize opportunities that come your way. I work for GSA and there are plenty of young coworkers here G12-GS14. I'm a GS13 and am working toward getting that 14. You will find some very intellengent people in government and some that make you wonder how they ever got any job at all. Don't get discouraged and don't get complacent; the job may be much easier than you imagine and actually below your skill set. Volunteer for special projects and keep looking to boaden your experiences to new areas and you'll find the opportunities to advance.
tucker515  
#12 Posted : Tuesday, September 1, 2009 10:04:28 AM(UTC)

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Posts: 1,290

My college roommate's dad (got that) took early retirement from a major supermarket chain. He took a part-time seasonal job at the IRS to have "something to do". He ended up full time and permanent with a very successful career there.
I am sorry, but I do not have the time to respond to private messages. I will not respond to them.
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