Reflections of an Active Duty Army Officer at Dewberry

As a U.S. Army Captain on active duty, my one-year rotational Training with Industry (TWI) program with Dewberry has come to an end. As an officer, our duty positions last anywhere from six months to two years, and you really don't know when it will end until a few months prior. In this case, the end of my time with Dewberry has been a mark on the wall, and every time I submitted quarterly reports it was apparent how fast the time was really going.

Spending time with Dewberry has been an eye-opening experience. From consulting to engineering, participating in USGS proposal reviews and hands-on experience with the DC-area's Silver Line metrorail extension, I have gained exposure that has not only motivated me to dedicate more time to my craft, but it's given me a much greater understanding of and appreciation for the intricacies of projects from a civilian's perspective.

What I'm Taking With Me

The most important lesson I've learned was reflected over and over again throughout the architecture, engineering, and consulting practice areas: the value of relationships. I've always taken care of my team but have never sought out enduring relationships with clients or communities. The great projects that Dewberry continues to work on are the products of relationships that are meticulously created and cultivated. I realize now how essential and smoothly that translates to the Army.

Of equally high importance have been the lessons learned responding to RFPs. I never before understood the amount of work and effort that goes into creating a proposal from the provider's side. Each contract that must be agreed upon and each changing requirement requires a monumental lift from the potential provider. Being more conscientious of this will allow me to cultivate better relationships based on a mutual respect of one another's time and resources.

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Katie Werback, right, on-site at the Silver Line metrorail extension construction.

What I Hope to Leave Behind

I know I didn't get the opportunity to cultivate such relationships with every Dewberry employee, but I do hope to leave behind a more complete understanding of the Army's engineering operations and thought processes.

Most civilian firms are familiar with the methods of management inherent to USACE projects, but there are important operational differences when it comes to projects on the front line with troops. While both are part of the Army's Engineer Regiment, the latter group literally provides the initial shelter and infrastructure that supports our troops throughout the world. These engineer soldiers complete simple wood-frame construction in volatile contingency environments where a 70 percent solution with action is better than no action at all.

That important understanding may help Dewberry employees fill the gaps in Army operations more efficiently, honing into areas that need support while addressing as many potential needs as possible.

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Dewberry's Training with Industry sponsors (left to right): Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Walsh, Capt. Katie Werback, Jean Huang, Col. (Ret.) Grant Smith

Onward

Not too long from now I'll put my boots back on again, but I don't want to discard my suit and don the fatigues without thanking everyone for their support. To the Dewberry employees who sat down and explained everything, thank you. To those reading this blog, thank you for raising awareness of the Training with Industry program and what it can do for aspiring Army officers like myself.

If there's anything I can do in return, please just reach out to me: I'm the only Werback in the military.

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  • Katie Werback
    Katie Werback
 
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