Thursday, April 28, 2011

Getting Overseas Contracting Jobs

Getting a contracting job in Afghanistan or the Middle East!
© 2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Range Reviews: Tactical"
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So You Want to be a Contractor

Recently I recieved a very polite email from a young man desiring to become a contractor out here in Afghanistan. He had found several of my posts on Afghanistan and US Government contracting and got in touch with me with some very good questions. I thought it would be interesting to discuss it and perhaps help a few of you out with some pointers.

He wrote:
"I wanted to write to tell you that I've been reading great stories of your life in Afghanistan for the past few days, and I need a sort of mentor to ask a few questions. I stumbled upon your treasure trove of knowledge at just the right time in my life it seems."

(Obviously a man of good breeding and impecable taste...)

"I was wondering if you have any specific tips on how to get HR to notice my resume at DynCorp from the piles of other applicants. I was also curious about your motivations for going over there, how you got your first position, and how bearable the company is to work for.... I have no problem going with the flow. Anyways, I'd love to hear back from you and hope to buy you a beer in the future! Keep up the writing, and stay safe!"

Getting to Afghanistan

(FYI, I hate beer. Except for cooking with it, that's not bad. Come to think of it, I also like it for making hog mash; my favorite there is Pabst Blue Ribbon.)

Let's get down to the brass tacks of getting out here. First of all, if you're not connected, accept any job offer, from anyone, for any amount of money.

The reason for that is that getting here is the toughest part of the whole thing. If you don't know anyone in a position to help you, you are pretty much at the mercy of job listings on websites like DynCorp, Fluor, Aecom, KBR, etc; and as you have noted, getting noticed is very, very hard. Now, you're a Chemist, so that's close enough to a bug control man as anything else. That's Vector Control so look that up. There is also ROWPU; (reverse osmosis water purification unit) those contraptions need a tech damn near mounted on them. Look that up. You have to apply for everything you remotely qualify for, and maybe ones that you don't, so don't turn your nose up at, for instance, a force protection gig. (Think highly paid Mall Security guard that gets shot at occasionally.) These jobs get you out here where you can establish relationships with other contractors and the Military. That in turn gets you on the inside of the machine. It's all about the relationships.

I got here initially on a connection. The second time on my own. It was difficult trying to get back, but options started opening up after a few weeks. That was a lesson well learned. Now I always have a back-up job close at hand, and a stack of current connections. Just in case.

If you can get an oportunity to be sponsored for a clearance job, TAKE IT! A clearance is worth whatever bullshit you may have to put up with. It can take anywhere from a couple of months to a year to get your final status, but believe you me, it is worth it. So keep that in mind.

Once you're in Afghanistan

Being away from home, family, and friends can be tough. You may or may not have internet, phones, or even a post office. Coffee sucks, and you have to take malaria pills. But in the end,  YOU determine how well your time is spent here. If you stay positive, turn adversity into a learning experience, expect NOTHING and be surprised when you get something, you'll do well here. If on the other hand you piss and moan about the company you work for, the lousy mattress, the food, dust, bugs, or anything else you don't like, AND don't do anything about it, you will hate it here, be miserable, and likely get fired for being a POS. Let me tell you something and try to remember this, don't come here and be THAT guy that everybody hates because he pisses and moans about everything. If you do that, you won't be able to deal, and your stay will be very short and very uncomfortable. (It's ok to be the guy that everybody hates because you're always positive, because they really don't hate you, they're just jealous! Seriously.)

And another thing, there are plenty of bad asses here. If you are one, great. If your not, don't act like one because you will be called on the carpet over it and at best loose a few teeth or at worse loose a few teeth and go home. Keep quiet at first, if you can, and learn the ropes. If I managed to keep all my teeth, and earned more than a little respect, then anyone can.

Overseas Jobs and Recruiters

Getting your resume noticed by recruiters is probably the hardest thing next to trying to build the pyramids out of paper mache and flour glue. Remember, for any given job, there will be hundreds if not a thousand and then some applicants. Unless it is a job that is naturally self limiting like ummm, Environmental Chemistry. Can't be that many ECs that want to suck dust in a God foresaken corner of the world. That and high tech jobs; they're always in demand.

Search carefully for references or contacts to recruiters while job hunting. If you get a name then by golly use it. Start with a polite email and back it up with as many phone calls as it takes to get in touch with the recruiter. Have a plan or script in hand with what you want to say. But be flexible; you just don't know what job listings they are trying to fill that day.

Once you have a good prospect, be diligent and don't be afraid to contact them regularly and check in with them. Make your communiques brief and professional, but make sure they remember you.

If you haven't done so already, make sure you go to my article What Do You Need as a Contractor and go through the checklist.

Again, getting to Afghanistan is 99% of the battle. Once you're here, building relationships is the key. If you make a small effort to do a good job, not just average, you're on the right track to making those relationships. People will notice, believe me.

The other thing to be aware of is that the people that work with you are also on the lookout for better opportunities. Today you work with them, tomorrow they may be gone, and the next day you might work for them! That's the way it is here. So treat everyone with courtesy and respect, you never know when you might need them.

Related posts:
What Does a Contractor Need in Afghanistan?

Best Regards,
Albert “Afghanus” Rasch
In Afghanistan™

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Night and the AAF Entertainment is Here...

Let's not even go there...

We still have to maintain positive control of the entry of items from off post. That's why we wand everything.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ma Deuce and I

Keeping a sharp eye out.

Best regards,

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bagram Airfield + Taliban = Dead Taliban!

© 2010, 2011 Albert A Rasch and
In Afghanistan
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Ground Assault: September 15th 2010

Hello everyone!

Well, what an eventful week we've had.

The Talibannanas have just up and gone suicidal!

Hold on, they do that all the time anyway. Let's just say they upped the loony quotient ten-fold this time around. Remember that whatever you're reading in the papers is nothing close to what's on the ground. They are not sufficiently organized, they lack the firepower, nor do they have the ability get enough loons together to "over run" a base regardless what the NY Times says. Most of the time they end up causing us to expend several thousand dollars of small arms munitions and showing them an early release from their mortal coils and a one way ticket to hell.

Having said that, sometimes they get lucky and ram a car full of explosives into a bus full of their own people, and blow up the one or two Westerners that happen to be on it. But the damned fools will never, not ever, win going toe to toe with the brave and resourceful young men and women of the United States.

Well my idea of having a post all done up and ready for publishing fell afoul of yet another military security measure. No thumbdrives allowed. All the ports are disabled so you can't plug anything in! Seems some mellon headed Colonel left a thumbdrive lying around, a local national stole it, it ended up at a bazaar where a private bought it, and much to his surprise he found it full of unencrypted secret squirrel stuff! Surprise! What else is new...

Well friends, I'm off to the flight line to check things out and make sure we are keeping everything safe and secure! Sometimes it's just a matter of keeping ourselves from doing harm. Remember the Soviets left this place just chock full of party favors! In some cases they have even double stacked their exploding parting gifts! Clever fellows...

I miss the day to day reparte we've had over the last few years, but soon enough I'll be back again for more fun and frolic!

Remember stay vigilant, stay safe! Stay alive.
Best Regards,
Albert “Afghanus” Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Dealing With Muslim Extremism "Chronicles" Style
In Afghanistan™

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Traveling through Kuwait

© 2010,2011 Albert A Rasch and
In Afghanistan™
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Greetings from Kuwait!

April 2010
Holy Smokes is it hot!

But as they say, “It's a dry heat...” Like that somehow makes it more bearable. Ok at least you don't have to chew your air before you breath, unlike some days in Florida where the air is sometimes so thick, that you can part it with a knife. But still, it's hot as the devil's own furnace.

You're reading that right. 112 degrees hot!

It actually hurts the palms of your hands as you walk from one point to another, so drinking plenty of water, using a good sunblock frequently, and trying to stay out of the sun as much as possible is a very wise idea.

They are being very thorough on the in-processing this time around, and they sure do make sure that the dot the i and cross the t.

The Kuwaitis have been very solicitous and helpful (kinda), but their lackeys and servant are anything but. I'm not sure where they are from, but they are rude and surly. I guess I would be to if I was beaten regularly with a switch...

The Americans soldiers are also very friendly and helpful here at the base.

The flight in wasn't all that good. First United screwed up my boarding pass, so I had to go through security twice. Then they didn't give me the aisle seat I originally had. I managed to get that fixed. Then the service on the plane itself was poor. The food was mediocre at best. And boy is the leg room limited; I'm glad that I'm not six foot tall. After a tedious twelve and a half hour flight, we finally put down in Kuwait City, much to everyone's relief.

We cleared Customs without a hitch, and were immediately assaulted by a legion of shuttle operators wanting to take us from the airport to the base – for a price... about $50.00 and maybe your head if you pick the wrong one! Fortunately I knew that there was a free shuttle; it was just a matter of finding it, and thereby saving myself the money. Just wait by the consession stands, and someone from Ali AlSaleem will find you and get you to the free shuttle.

Once we reached the base, it was the usual hurry-up-and-wait so common to all things military. We are in 16 man tents, air conditioned I might add, and as comfortable as you might be at home. The food is abundant, if a little bland, and there's plenty of entertainment... If you like watching water evaporating.

I should be heading into Afghanistan in the next few days. We have some more gear that needs to be issued, and a couple more shots; and then it's back to work. I'll keep you all posted!

Stay safe!
Best regards,
Albert A Rasch
Albert Rasch in Afghanistan: She had Beautiful Green Eyes…