6th FSS partners with FCA to hire local graduates Published Sept. 15, 2023 By Airman 1st Class Zachary Foster 6th Air Refueling Wing, Public Affairs MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- With over 4,000 civilian employees who work at MacDill Air Force Base. The civilian force plays an important role in contributing to the 6th Air Refueling Wing’s mission. In an effort to bolster community relationships and source new employees for civilian jobs on base, the 6th Force Support Squadron has partnered with the Future Career Academy. FCA is a Tampa-based program, first introduced in 2015. Their goal is to connect students and adults to in-demand, living wage, entry-level jobs with long-term career growth and sustainable employment. MacDill’s partnership with the FCA started following the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to fill open service positions to return the base to full functionality as quickly as possible. “Coming out of COVID, we had 80 to 100 slots to fill,” said Gail Mouse, 6th FSS Human Resources officer. “Now we’re down to 40 and we’ve maintained about that level, but we’re continuing to look for new motivated civilians to fill those roles.” According to Mouse, most of the civilian careers within the Force Support Squadron fall under nonappropriated funded positions, meaning they’re not federally funded, but paid for by funds generated by the activities. Several of the services-related amenities on base run similarly to civilian businesses and face similar manning constraints. “Wendy Foster [6th FSS Marketing director] and I teamed up to represent MacDill’s NAF jobs at most of the local career fairs,” Mouse said. “Recently we’ve started to work with different off base entities to fill our vacancies because a lot of people outside the gate don’t know about all the opportunities we have available.” Foster, like many Air Force civilians, initially developed her professional career interests through vocational education. “The reason I got excited about this program is because I’m a product of early vocational education,” Foster said. “I was interested in graphic design in high school and was able to take courses in commercial art, graphics and printing. That initially led to the development of my lifelong career in marketing and advertising.” Looking to develop future government employees in the same way she had, Foster turned towards community organizations with similar goals. The duo’s first interaction with the FCA came at a business panel meeting where they were introduced to the students. “The difference we saw was the students were ready to look for a job,” Foster said. “They had a resume in hand, they were dressed for success and they were asking informed questions about the workplace and opportunities we offered.” Following the fair, the team reached out to the academy to build a stronger connection and encourage more graduating seniors to apply. “We hosted [FCA] leaders to show them what we have to offer, and they were impressed,” Mouse said. “Our goal was to get a bigger amount of time with the students to be able to showcase all of the different career opportunities across the installation.” According to Foster, what impressed the team most about the academy was their willingness to change the current culture. “This program gives students a chance to pick and choose, to ask themselves ‘I’m interested in college but not sure what I’m interested in or how to pay for it.’” Foster said. “This program introduces them to different industries where they might have an interest and lets them decide their own path. In many cases, these industries also assist with tuition reimbursement or paying for training certifications.” The 6th FSS continuously encourages their civilians to professionally develop using entry-level jobs as stepping stones to higher-level positions, claimed Foster. “I think too many people look at service-related positions in general and say, ‘you’re just in food service’ or ‘you’re just a maintenance worker,’” Foster said. “When in reality these employees are professionally developing on the job while walking down a path leading them into managing these facilities, and their previous experience is going to make them even better in the future.” The duo leaves applicants with a piece of advice, “The biggest thing we look for is passion,” Mouse shared. “We look for that excitement and that passion because that’s what it’s going to take for someone to stay the course in a service-related civilian career,” Foster said. “Civilians can provide the continuity that stays for years.” For more information on the FCA visit https://thefuturecareeracademy.com. For more information on what careers are available at MacDill and how to apply visit https://macdillfss.com/open-jobs/.