USGIF’s Young Professionals Group hosted a lunch panel discussion during GEOINT Community Week, drawing considerable interest.
The Young Professionals Group, open to GEOINT professionals under the age of 25 or with less than five years in the profession, initiated the panel for experienced young professionals to share the learning and growth opportunities that have allowed them to reach their current positions.
Roger Altobelli, and engineer with the National Reconnaissance Office, encouraged the audience to consider leadership in different ways.
“I’ve learned in my interaction across the community that it’s not always the people in the leadership positions that are making it happen,” Altobelli said. “It’s the guy in the basement, the guy somewhere else, the tech guy that is actually getting stuff done.”
Mike Campanelli, a systems engineer with RadiantBlue Technologies, warned attendees against what he called “the greener grass syndrome,” and emphasized the value in loyalty to your company, and searching for solutions to problems before looking elsewhere.
Campanelli also attested to the value of finding the right mentors.
“It is important early on in your career to recognize who the people are that you should know, who the people are that you should listen to−and those two are usually mutually exclusive−and who the people are that you should not listen to.”
Dave Sterling, a program manager with KEYW Corp., also stressed the importance of seeking mentorship.
“Find the person that is where you want to be five or 15 years from now,” Sterling said. “They’re the kind of people that you want to get to know on a deeper level.”
Sterling added that it’s also important to ask mentors about the mistakes they made throughout their career.
Marc Puleo, an imagery analyst with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, encouraged the audience to focus on doing what they love instead of chasing the next promotion. He also cautioned attendees not to forget about government jobs, as budget cuts will lead to more technological jobs being held within government rather than industry.
Gaby Maldonado, a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, urged her peers to take risks.
“Realize what your customers actually need and want, and try to think outside the box, and focus on how we can improve our industry going forward,” she said.