Qivliq Federal Group
Jennifer Mueth is a project manager with Qivliq Federal Group. She has been with the Akima family of companies for four years.
Jennifer Mueth spent the last two years of her college career as a fulltime student and a fulltime contractor working on Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, not far away from the small town where she grew up. After graduating from Park University, she was offered a new position on base that would eventually steer her toward the information technology world—where she discovered her non-tech background was actually one of her strengths and found an opportunity that helped cement her career as a project manager.
On base, Jennifer first worked as an administrative assistant, then moved into finance, and eventually ended up at the Air Force Network Integration Center. When her team was transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, Jennifer decided she wanted to stay put. So she got a job with Booz Allen Hamilton and wound up working on the ADX Tech Refresh team.
When the Booz Allen contract ended, Qivliq Federal Group, an Akima subsidiary, kept Jennifer on the team to continue on the ADX project. She eventually moved to the Cloud Hosted Enterprise Services project, better known as CHES, to migrate Air Force email systems to the cloud. That initiative turned out to be the launch pad to her career as a project manager, Jennifer recalls.
“It helped me step out of the comfort zone and showed me what I could do instead of playing the young, female role, because that kind of gets in my head sometimes,” she says. “It’s hard being a female in the men’s world—it’s kind of intimidating.”
Suddenly, she was managing a dozen team members. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by her role and responsibilities, Jennifer says she felt enabled and empowered. “It helped me prove to myself that I could manage others and handle my own project, and I think that’s what helped get me this current contract,” she says. Today Jennifer is the project manager on the Enterprise Core Service Migration effort on an eight-person team.
Not having a technical background in the IT world hasn’t held her back at all, she notes. Rather, it has made her unafraid to share her point of view. “I went to school for human resources, so I kind of speak up and say, ‘Hey, this is not technical, Jen, but this is how I’m interpreting it.’”
But getting to that point hasn’t been without its struggles. Jennifer says her biggest challenge has been to balance work and family, and taking maternity leave to care for her children. When her first daughter was born, Jennifer says she went on maternity leave and when she returned to work, her contract had ended and she was moved to a different project. “That was definitely very scary,” she says. With her second daughter, the scenario was different. Jennifer was able to come back without any changes to her role.
“I think it’s just scary being a mom, wanting to have a family and a career, without being forgotten and left behind or passed up for opportunities because you want to have a family,” Jennifer says. Still, Jennifer says she has managed to do both, thanks to a supportive work group and family.
“When I was on that last project, I was traveling up to 50 percent of the time and was away for quite a bit, so having that supportive family system is important,” she states. “My parents, my grandparents, my siblings, they all help with the kids when my husband gets in a pickle.”
There were times Jennifer wanted to give up, but she persevered. Her desire to be a good role model for her two daughters always made her push through, Jennifer says.