Chances don't approach you, you approach chances! Than Naing, a United States Marine Corps combat veteran, having earned two Purple Hearts in battle proved he belonged amongst the bravest of our most revered in military service. Than served in the infantry for nine years. He deployed multiple times in the combat theater as a Non-Commissioned Officer supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. During his deployment to the combat theater in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he was wounded in action and earned two Purple Hearts. After he was wounded in combat a second time, his injury prevented him from returning to the battlefield and eventually led to his honorable discharge in 2013 from the Marine Corps.
After his combat injuries cut his illustrious Marine Corps career short, all he needed was a chance to prove he belonged in the CBP family. Thanks to CBP’s extraordinarily successful national collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE) internship program, he got that chance.
Than joined U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in January 2015 as a NPWE intern and was hired as a full-time employee just 10 months later. Using this flexible hiring platform, CBP hiring managers get to evaluate a veteran’s performance on the job prior to committing to hire them in any non-law enforcement position for which they can be easily noncompetitively hired using their veterans’ preference.
During Than’s NPWE internship, he served as an In-Country Support Management and Program Analyst of the International Mission Support Division within the Office of International Affairs (INA). In this capacity, he supported INA’s overseas personnel and their families during their tours of duty.
Than was amazed and excited about the chance he was given to prove himself in a Federal agency performing in the General Schedule series and grade with the opportunity to be hired directly, based on his performance during the NPWE internship. Than explained, “During my NPWE internship with CBP, my Director, supervisor, and co-workers were highly supportive in helping me gain experience and gave me flexibility for school, work, and a healthy work environment (such as allowing me to go to gym). Throughout the program, I also had the chance to network with other great people who emphasized the importance that CBP places on diversity within our agency’s programs and culture.”
Adrienne Turner, Director, Strategic Partnerships and Communication, Office of Human Resources Management, hired Than into the agency and also serves as a mentor. “I consider Than one of my greatest hires! He came to CBP from the U.S. Marine Corps as an NPWE intern with no CBP experience or understanding of the culture, and little to no experience in his assignment to international affairs mission support.” Ms. Turner continued, “Mr. Naing worked tirelessly to understand the agency and each day he strived to provide CBP’s internationally deployed staff and attachés with the best possible service. This required him to have a mastery of the applicable Department of State regulations and various CBP policies affecting international deployments. His commitment was extraordinary, contagious, and refreshing. As soon as I had the allocation, I hired Than into a permanent position. To this day, Than requests meetings with me on a quarterly basis and I regard these meetings as highpoints of my own career.”
Ms. Turner’s sentiment is shared by the majority of agency leaders who have hosted NPWE veteran interns like Than who has progressed in his CBP career post internship. Than currently works for the Office of Information Technology. His current supervisor, Kieulan Nguyen, explains “I am very grateful and lucky to have Than join my team. Even though he is new to security, he constantly demonstrates his willingness to learn new things. His work ethic, his attentiveness to details, and how he strives to be team player at all times make him an exceptional asset to our security team.”
Than explained that “given the chance, I successfully persevered through the arduous demands of Marine Corps boot camp, multiple combat tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and now, thanks to the NPWE internship, I have a Federal career with no limits on how far I can take it thanks to being given that chance again to prove I belonged.” CBP is lucky Than took a chance on CBP!
For more information on how to participate in the NPWE internship program, please contact CBPVETS@cbp.dhs.gov.