"Being an examiner at the USPTO provides a rare combination where the tasks you complete are predictable, but the cases you read and analyze are fascinating disclosures of groundbreaking technology that keep each day fresh and interesting.”
When you get hugs after inspiring a classroom of inner city grade schoolers to dream big and become inventors, you know you’re doing something right. So was the experience of Ken Malkowski when he was on a 4-month detail as a Regional Outreach Assistant (ROA) in USPTO’s Midwest Regional Office.
“I could immediately tell how my work made an impact on the community,” he says. That sense of consequence and influence made his tenure as a ROA one of most rewarding experiences of his career at the USPTO so far.
While no two days were the same for Ken during his detail, empowering members from the community to make a better life for themselves was the daily common thread. Ken’s portfolio of work with inventors and budding entrepreneurs from lower socio-economic segments of Detroit included giving lectures on intellectual property rights, planning events with K-12 public school administrators and creating materials to help low income inventors navigate the ‘idea-to-patent’ process. He also spent time educating local law school students on careers in intellectual property and what makes USPTO one of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government®.
This was a role tailor-made for Ken, who hails from Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He takes pride in his Michigan roots and, in his own words, he is a “cheerleader for Detroit.” So when the opportunity to take a brief hiatus from patent examining presented itself, Ken jumped at the chance to pursue the ROA detail in order to contribute in some unique way to making his beloved city stronger.
Now that his ROA detail has ended, he’s resumed his role examining patents. And he happens to love this job too. So much so that he’s done it twice.
Ken’s first stint at patent examining came right after graduating college in 2005. USPTO’s commitment to career advancement and participation as a qualifying employer of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program made it possible and affordable for Ken to leave the agency to pursue a law degree several years later.
After having graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2010, Ken used his background in electrical engineering as an intellectual property attorney at Foley and Lardner LLP in Detroit where he got the chance to experience patent prosecution and litigation.
Ever eager to return to his first passion, he was thrilled to learn that, in 2012, the USPTO would be opening its first-ever regional office in the Midwest. What could be better than doing a job that you love in a city that you love? Once the doors opened to the USPTO’s Midwest Regional Office on the Detroit waterfront, Ken was among the first to step through the doors to join its first class of patent examiners.
“I consistently tell people that working at the USPTO is the best job in the world because you get out exactly what you put in,” says Ken. “This agency offers vast career and work-life options to suit the individual lifestyle of each employee. And you are able to set your own schedule and you can either work entirely from home, part-time from home, or entirely from the office,” he adds.
Ken also tells his friends and family that he loves the USPTO because employees can decide for themselves the pace of their earning potential through bonuses and promotions, and that everyone has the chance to participate in programs like details to help them chart their own paths to success.
We think we can safely say that Ken is definitely a cheerleader for the USPTO as well.