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Civilian Service - Talent development program provides scholars with a pathway to DoD careers

Four students from the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business are among 20 rising juniors selected from more than 80 applicants as the first cohort of the Defense Civilian Training Corps (DCTC) at Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus.

DCTC is a congressionally-mandated pilot talent development program that provides its scholars with a full-tuition scholarship and prepares them for a direct pathway into Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition-related careers. Its multidisciplinary, experiential-learning curriculum and summer internships at DoD organizations encourage scholars to develop leadership skills and a collaborative mindset, preparing them to work on diverse, innovative teams within the defense ecosystem.

Purdue is among 28 universities collaborating with the DoD’s Acquisition Innovation Research Center on the initiative and among four chosen as DCTC schools. High achieving student applicants with a demonstrated interest in making a meaningful difference as part of an innovative, interdisciplinary team are selected from majors such as finance, engineering, sciences, business, and public policy to join a DCTC cohort at host universities across the United States.

The students selected from the Daniels School are Aubrey DeVries, John Eberle, Anne Melendez and Anna Roetker. Upon graduation, they and other DCTC scholars will join the DoD full time with the support and accelerated career advancement opportunities necessary to achieve their professional ambitions.

For DeVries (above right), a finance major from Fishers, Indiana, the DCTC program is a unique opportunity to establish financial and job security while still in college. “Being in this program gives me a skillset that will set me apart from my peers,” she says. “Our cohort professor tells us frequently that when we begin working in the DoD, we will have developed a resiliency and warrior ethos that you don’t learn in the classroom. As jobs get more competitive, this will serve as an asset to both me and my cohort.”

Eberle (above center), a finance and accounting major from Fishers, Indiana, describes the program as one of the most unique learning experiences at Purdue. “I have never had a deep connection with the United States military or Department of Defense beyond knowing a few family members that served,” he says. “Through this program, I hope to learn more about how the DoD operates on a holistic level as well as the career paths within it.”   

Melendez (above center), a finance major from Tampa, Florida, says it’s been interesting to learn how different branches of the government work to accomplish DoD needs, how civilians are involved in the acquisitions process and how people of different disciplines work together to achieve national security needs. “I look forward to gaining more teamwork experiences as a cohort and being able to apply my skills to my summer internship and future career,” she says.

Roetker (above left), a supply chain information and analytics major from Lafayette, Indiana, says the DCTC program is a great opportunity to explore government civilian roles. “With multiple family members serving the Armed Forces, I wanted to know how I could become part of something greater than myself by learning what a career in the Department of Defense could provide,” she says. “I am gaining new skills, perspectives, and knowledge that will positively impact my career and set me on the right track before stepping foot into my first professional job.”