DAHLGREN, Va. –
A new career move can be an exhilarating and formidable experience. Inspired by their own experiences, a group of young professionals at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) created the Early Career Organization (ECO) to help navigate during a transitional work environment and to bring Dahlgren employees together.
Victoire Babwiriza, Joshua Bonilla and Eikra Shithil, all engineers in the Integrated Combat Systems and Weapons Control Department, share a passion for engineering, as well as a common goal of bringing together like-minded people.
Both natives to Buffalo, New York, Babwiriza and Bonilla were friends long before they started working at NSWC Dahlgren. The pair joined forces with Shithil with thoughts of developing a place for new NSWCDD employees to network and come together.
ECO first ignited when the trio recognized a pattern in the unknown opportunities and possibilities that NSWCDD had to offer to them. The group realized they wanted to break the barrier and create a guide to understanding NSWCDD for employees early in their respective careers.
With our workforce returning to office, Victoire Babwiriza, a mechanical engineer from the Integrated Combat Systems department, proposed an idea to NSWCDD’s Deputy Technical Director Darren Barnes. Babwiriza proposed the idea of bringing forward an organization that aims to assist our workforce with professional development, mentoring, and networking.
“We are here to represent everyone with a plan for their career, to help navigate and to be the communication platform for new and established employees,” said Bonilla.
The goal is to find ways to advocate and to supply a resource for what NSWCDD has to offer for employee satisfaction and success.
“COVID created a challenging environment for in-person connections,” reflected Babwiriza. “We really wanted to build a way to get other NSWCCD employees in the same room, talking about projects, ideas and to learn about what their peers may be doing at Dahlgren.”
As NSWCDD employees returned to the office, ECO flourished in the adapting environment hosting its first networking event, Aug. 4. Deputy Technical Director Darren Barnes kicked things off by highlighting the importance of networking at NSWCDD. The event then broke down into multiple small groups where the attendees could get to know their fellow peers.
Networking is critical to the success of any employee, but ECO wants to place a focus on improving professional development and embrace the concept of what an effective employee is along with what they encompass.
“ECO wants to encourage employees to take chances, become more involved and put themselves out there to see all that NSWCDD has to offer. The leadership roles, opportunities with like-minded professionals and ideas are limitless when attending this event.” said Shithil.
The ECO members have set a plan to develop more of these events for employees to attend soon. The ultimate goal is to create a positive, motivated and productive workforce while advocating for the employees here at NSWCDD.