Kate E. Watkins is a Human Resources Specialist in the Office of Administration and Resources Management, Research Triangle Park Office (OARM-RTP) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
How did you first get into your career field or area of expertise?
After undergraduate, I gained experience in corporate marketing and completed a year in a Masters of Social Work. I knew that neither were exactly right but liked aspects of both. The dissatisfaction in those two fields pushed me to follow what had always been my dream of becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer. While working in rural Tanzania, I re-discovered my passion for outreach, public health, and organizational capacity building, which led me to apply to the open HR positions at the EPA.
How did you find out about the EPA?
I always knew about the EPA and respected the organization as a whole. I landed on a position here through the RPCV Career Link application portal, where there just happened to be an HR position available in my home town when I was preparing to close my service in Peace Corps. I was brought on through my Non-Competitive Eligibility, which is a perk for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers!
What is an average day like as a Special Assistant to the HRMD Director/Deputy?
Every day is dynamic, fast-paced, and totally at the mercy of the agency’s priorities. HR deals with so many topics, and I have the privilege of getting to create my own projects based on the agency’s needs. Some days I am managing webinars for outreach to college students, and other days, I am designing instructional resources for hiring managers throughout the EPA. I also manage several administrative tasks for the HRMD Immediate Office, like communicating with current HR applicants, reviewing calendars, and facilitating/drafting notes for weekly management meetings. My favorite aspects of this position involve bringing people together from several offices to make agency-wide improvements or complete cool projects as a team!
Is there anything you find interesting about the EPA that an outsider or someone who isn’t familiar should know?
I am always really impressed by the flexibility in scheduling and the accumulation of leave that we get. Having your schedule guaranteed and knowing that your rights are protected is so refreshing after having worked in “Big Business.” I really thrive in the work/life balance offered here… not to mention the beautiful nature around the EPA-RTP campus that I get to enjoy on my lunch break!
Do you have any advice for applicants who are interested in working at the EPA?
Make sure you use the “qualifications” section of the job posting when you’re creating your resume, and don’t forget to submit all the required documents. Also, remember that the position you enter into is a foot in the door to other positions in the federal government. Opening that door is the hardest part, and then there’s a lot of mobility and opportunity for change!