Feb 23, 2017 | Blog

Your career in federal government contracting

I earned my MLS degree from the University of Maryland, which is inside the Washington DC beltway. The focus of the program was on obtaining a federal government job, yet one federal government employment option was never discussed – contracting.

If you currently are pursuing your MLS/MLIS degree, or you’re a working librarian ready for change, I would like to present the case for employment with a recognized contractor like LAC Federal. Not only can we help you gain experience and “try out” a particular role or agency; we can be a full-time career destination.


About LAC Federal government contracting services

LAC Federal provides information management, research, consulting, and other staffing support services for libraries and information centers in the government sector. We are trusted with management of critical information assets and recognized for meeting all contract deliverables in a timely, value-added manner.

LAC Federal is a government contractor and subcontractor for knowledge management, information management, records management and other related services. We are part of LAC Federal, a well-established company founded in 1986, with a national presence throughout the United States as well as offices and staff in the United Kingdom. LAC Federal serves nearly every industry sector, including law, business, universities, media and entertainment. Most of the company’s 400 employees are engaged in projects for clients like these, affording a unique opportunity for internal networking and skill-sharing.

While many people join us to work on a specific project, don’t limit your thinking to that narrow view. We offer many prospects for long-term employment. Once you get your foot in the door, work hard and do good work – like you would at any other job! – management will notice.

As for LAC Federal management, our leaders are responsive and involved, including our CEO Deborah Schwarz, who founded the company. I always advise employees to reach out and share their career goals with their supervisors and anyone on the leadership team. By raising your hand and expressing a willingness to take on new opportunities, you can advance and grow with the company.


The kinds of work LAC Federal employees do

The following list encompasses some of the work our employees do for federal clients:

  • Reference
  • Cataloging
  • Data science
  • Information management
  • Collections management
  • Custom web design and development
  • Event planning, outreach and other marketing activities
  • Knowledge management
  • Records management
  • Law librarianship
  • Digital asset management
  • Metadata curation
  • Indexing
  • Project management

While these are specific work activities, as contractors, it’s our job to support the mission of our federal government clients and rise to whatever opportunities come our way – in many cases, to go above and beyond. Some people don’t realize the level at which many of our employees are operating. The next time you’re watching a great conference presentation, or reading a peer-reviewed article, or networking with other talented information professionals, you may be surprised to learn how many of them are working as contractors!


LAC Federal contractor work profiles

One of our clients is an agency tasked with providing trustworthy food and nutrition resources for nutrition and health professionals, educators, government personnel and consumers.  We support this mission through the contributions of a Technical Information Specialist who is an expert in both web development and content. This LAC Federal employee is responsible for maintaining a set of websites, which includes editing outdated content, creating new content, managing RSS news feeds, responding to requests for information, posting to social media and other tasks.

Another example involves specialized librarians for another health-related mission, including a Systems Librarian and a Web Accessibility Specialist who also consults on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies. We also employ a Consumer Health Information Librarian. These employees are highly-skilled professionals with years of experience and credentials working for corporations and government agencies in the areas of science and medicine.

Their combined responsibilities include vocabulary research and development, mapping medical codes, providing medical reference knowledge, reviewing Web pages and recommending changes, analyzing and reporting on biomedical resources, handling customer service emails, categorizing web content, gathering requirements for web developers and computer programmers, assisting in Quality Assurance testing and database management.

These are just a couple of related examples in one subject matter area. Many of our staff work on high level projects across a variety of missions and topics. They are professionally involved and maintain their own visibility through activities like publishing and presenting at conferences.

For more information on what it’s like to work for LAC Federal, including an overview of benefits, I encourage you to view this page and make sure to scroll to the bottom where you will find several “Day in the Life” employee profiles, including some government contracting stories.


My LAC Federal career story

I worked as a fine artist and sushi chef for ten years before moving into the library field. I started with LAC Federal as a Library Clerk on a project for Tulane University in New Orleans in 2012. I then relocated to Washington DC for a project at the Library of Congress, where I worked my way up to Assistant Project Manager on a technical services project. After that, I transferred to the National Agricultural Library as a Metadata Librarian, working on building a repository for open-access scientific research data. I am now in LAC Federal’s corporate office in Rockville, Maryland, having been promoted to Deputy Director in September 2016. I also earned my PMP certification in 2016, which LAC reimbursed me for (as part of our standard benefits package that includes a professional development stipend).


Advice for those considering government contracting employment

My story conveys the kinds of options offered within LAC Federal. I always recommend that people network internally and demonstrate their work interests. It’s also important to be adaptable! I think this is the single most valuable attribute in a candidate. Be open to opportunities you weren’t looking for and be willing to go outside your comfort zone.  The more open you are to change, including relocation, the more opportunities you will have for upward mobility.

There is higher turnover for employees working in contracting than those working for the government directly. However, there is also room to work your way up the ladder and gain diverse professional experience much more quickly. For whatever reason, you may be set on government employment. Managing change, dealing with uncertainty and having to exercise greater control over your career path is not the best fit for everyone.

However, I would still encourage you to give contracting a try. At the very least, you will learn something new and grow professionally, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to a federal agency’s mission. And who knows – a contracting job with LAC Federal may lead you to an unexpectedly rich and fulfilling career.

LAC Federal contracting career resources:

More information on working for LAC Federal

Current job openings posted on LibGig, the company’s recruiting and staffing site (includes non-government opportunities).


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