Contracting positions stay viable in contracting economy.

Jackie Naranjo (BBA ’08) embodies the notion that an unexpected career option can turn out to be extremely rewarding. Through the summer internship program offered by the Hispanic National Internship Program (HNIP) of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), she landed a position in the contracting office of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

It wasn’t what she had in mind, but she loved it and still does. She was hired on after the internship, is now a contract specialist and the field continues to surprise her.

Jackie Naranjo at the NSHMBA 2009 Conference
Jackie Naranjo at the NSHMBA 2009 Conference

“The title may sound boring, but the job isn’t,” said Naranjo, who finds ways to apply the background she acquired as a marketing and international business major in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU). “Whenever the office makes a huge purchase, we work with the requests for proposals or quotes, handle payments and deal with problems.”

Naranjo spreads her enthusiasm to others.

According to her, the agency looks to fill contracting positions with people who have a general business background—“I use lots of the concepts I learned in finance and accounting,” she said—and her double major has been an asset. She had done marketing for a small software firm and understood the proposal and quoting process, and the FAA’s office of international aviation appreciates people with international business knowledge.

In this tight economy, contract specialists remain in high demand—her branch has grown from eight employees to fifteen, for example—and she’s doing her part to promote the opportunities. At the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), one of the career fairs she attended to let others know what contracting is all about, she reconnected with members of Career Management Services (CMS), which helped her secure the HACU internship in the summer of 2008 that launched her career.

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