“I was fortunate enough to participate in the Operation Warfighter (OWF) program, which led to an internship at the USPTO. It was an incredible opportunity for me—although I don’t have a formal background in communications, the internship allowed me to demonstrate my skills before I was hired. Ultimately, it opened up a new career path for me.”
Transition Assistance Program as a pathway to permanency
Megan joined the Navy in 2009 and had an eight-year naval career which earned her the rank of lieutenant by the time she separated in 2017. As Megan was preparing to leave the Navy, two transition assistance programs were critical to getting her on the path that led to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), where she is now a full-time plain language writer and editor in the Trademarks organization. In the year prior to her separation, she participated in the Navy’s mandatory Transition Goals, Plan, Success program. She was also selected for a USPTO internship in 2016 through the Department of Defense’s Operation Warfighter program, which matches qualified wounded, ill, and injured service members with federal internships.
Megan credits that internship at the USPTO as a major turning point: her career growth potential increased dramatically with her internship allowing for a seamlessly transition into a permanent role.
"It was an incredible opportunity for me," says Megan. "Although I don’t have a formal background in communications, the internship allowed me to demonstrate my skills before I was hired. Ultimately, it opened up a new career path for me.”
The communication skills she learned while on active duty as a junior officer were honed while she served as a liaison between groups with different goals and needs. "No matter who I was talking to," she says, "I had to make sure that my message resonated so that the team could operate cohesively."
Writing messages that resonate can make an immediate impact
In her current role, Megan uses her innate communications skills to carefully craft plain language that demystifies the online application experience for customers—everyone from experienced practitioners to small-business owners—offering information about registering trademarks that is easy to find, understand, and use. Ultimately, Megan's work supports the kind of service to mission that is truly meaningful to her.
Writing a series of webpages to help USPTO customers use a complicated online system is one of her career highlights as a writer/editor. Application systems can be challenging to navigate and Megan values working on projects that have the greatest potential to help many people.
The impact of her work isn't limited to external customers: it has influenced the Trademarks culture. Historically, plain language wasn't something that Trademark examining attorneys considered when drafting correspondence and decisions. After adopting the plain language approach to communications, there's a better understanding among Trademarks employees of how writing in plain language can positively affect both quality and productivity.
Advice for transitioning service members
Megan encourages anyone seeking a position at the USPTO, and especially transitioning service members, to not be afraid to ask "why?"
"Getting specific about what we're trying to accomplish frequently helps my team and I come up with a better solution and allows us to communicate more effectively with our customers."
What unique set of skills can job seekers use to be successful at the USPTO? Megan says a willingness to think critically and solve problems is a must.
Megan has a solid career path at the agency and enjoys the camaraderie of her team working towards a meaningful mission. And the support system she's found at the USPTO she says, is invaluable.
"I work with a talented and driven team. Everyone believes in our mission and cooperates to work toward it. We've accomplished a lot together and that is both rewarding and motivating."