Information Security

Why ASEC Might Be The Right Work Environment For You

Looking for a new job is often just about the job: we want to know what the job’s pay will be, what the job’s responsibilities are, and where the job will be located. These are the high-level details available on any job post.

Those are important details, of course, but anyone who’s ever worked in an office and with a team knows there’s more to a job than just what’s written on the post.

Even with companies that describe what it’s like to work with them, candidates know it takes a bit more effort to learn about a company’s working environment. These are details that can come out in the research we do about a company and the interview process, or we might not find out about them until a few weeks (or months!) into the job itself.

Finding out about the working environment at the company you’re applying to shouldn’t take months. With the right preparation, you should be able to get enough information to make a smart decision much sooner. 

As ASEC is an employee-owned company, we take a special interest in making sure that the people we hire – our future employees and co-workers – are a good fit for us, and that they feel they fit well, too. 

Part of making that process successful is knowing what you’re looking for in a workplace. To help with that, we’re sharing a few questions you can ask yourself to ensure a good workplace fit for your new job, as well as insights into what working at ASEC is like.

7 Questions To Ask Yourself When Looking For A New Work Environment

When we’re looking for a new job, the filters we set up can be fairly straightforward. How much do I want to make? Where do I want to work? What title am I looking for? Job portals can then lead us toward the openings we’re looking for.

However, finding the right work environment can be a trickier process. One good place to start is with a little bit of introspection. We’ve put together the seven questions below as a good place to start when looking for your next job in the defense contracting industry.

  1. How important is autonomy to me?

Having a sense of independence and control over one’s work can be a significant factor in job satisfaction. It is essential to understand how much autonomy you desire in your work and whether the company you are considering can provide you with that level of autonomy. 

Once you have your answer – and you can support it with the times in past jobs where you felt the most satisfied – you’ll be well-equipped to bring up the topic in an interview.

  1. How do I feel about working in teams?

Most jobs in the defense contracting industry require collaboration. Therefore, it is essential to assess your ability to work with others, your communication skills, and how much you enjoy collaboration.

If there are types of collaboration or communication you prefer, note these down. Being conscious of how and where you work best will also help hiring managers make the right decision.

  1. What are my long-term career goals?

It is important to determine what you want to achieve in your career and whether the company you are considering can provide opportunities for advancement, professional development, and learning. 

When considering how a company fits in with your goals, two good indicators to consider are longevity – how long people stay at the company, and how long the company has been around – as well as growth prospects. Is the company growing, taking on new contracts, and establishing new projects, or are they maintaining and staying even-keeled? ASEC hired over 120 new employees in 2022, so we are definitely looking to grow.

  1. How much does the company invest in its people?

The amount a company invests in its people can be an indicator of how much they value their employees. It is important to consider the training and development programs, benefits, and support the company provides to its employees.

One example of this is ASEC’s employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP. It’s a way of valuing employee contributions with increased ownership in the company. This means as the company grows and succeeds, the employee has a direct stake in that growth. As another way of investing in our employees’ growth\, ASEC also offers tuition reimbursement for both undergraduate and some graduate-level classes.

  1. What kind of work environment do I thrive in?

Every person has their own work environment preferences. Some people prefer a quiet, solo work environment, while others thrive in a bustling, collaborative atmosphere. It is essential to determine what kind of work environment suits you best. 

As Dan Bishop, an ASEC Systems Engineer and Program Manager, shared in a recent interview, the work environment at ASEC is focused on the quality of the work. 

“There’s not a lot of focus on competition or personal evaluation. It’s expected that you’re going to do your job well, it’s expected that you’re going to be honest and follow through and keep the customer’s needs in focus. The aim of the company is to support you in that and help you succeed. To put you in a position where your client allows you to do your work and lets you succeed without worrying about other items.”

  1. How much work-life balance do I need?

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to one’s well-being. Consider how much flexibility you need to accommodate personal obligations and hobbies outside of work and whether the company you are considering can accommodate those needs. 

Being open about this helps to ensure that you find the right company, but also that the company understands your needs. ASEC’s Director of Talent Acquisition Stephanie St. Peter shared how she works to understand each candidate’s values from the very first steps of the interview process: 

“I try to find out what environments they find the most rewarding and successful. I never look at a candidate as a “butt in a seat”, but as a person with a life, a family, friends, and unique goals and aspirations.”

  1. How important is company culture to me?

Company culture is the shared values, beliefs, and practices that influence the behavior of the organization’s employees. It is essential to determine how much the company culture aligns with your values and whether you would enjoy working in that environment.

In some instances, company culture has to be experienced from the inside. Having the chance to speak to current employees will also illuminate more about how the company treats its employees. Here are two recent examples from ASEC:

“Above all, I love working for a company that is deeply committed to our nation’s Warfighter. I [also] feel very supported by our executive leadership team. They have allowed me the opportunity to build a Talent Acquisition department and implement recruiting processes that did not exist here before me.” – Stephanie St. Peter, Director of Talent Acquisition

“We’ve got very open lines of communication across multiple teams and that helps us. It’s really nice to sit in on meetings, it’s gratifying to see where decisions are being made and problems are being solved because there are multiple ASEC personnel involved on multiple teams. It gives you a sense of pride that we have a lot of quality folks that are trusted by the client to help solve problems.” Dan Bishop, Systems Engineer & Program Manager

Interested In Careers At ASEC? See What We Have Available

Finding the right workplace fit is crucial when searching for a job, and it’s our hope that in sharing some pointers, we can help you understand better if ASEC is the right fit for you. 

If you’d like to work at an employee-owned company that values diversity, collaboration, and innovation, then we encourage you to visit our job listings here and to consider applying.

What Is An ESOP? An Inside Look At What It Means To Be An Employee Owner

Have you ever wondered what it means when companies call themselves employee-owned? Or maybe you’ve heard of an ESOP, but you’re not really sure how it works?

If you’re ready to take more control over your career and work for a company that values your contributions, then it’s time we took a deep dive into the world of ESOPs.

So grab your swimsuit and nose plugs because we’re about to take a dip!

How An ESOP Works For The Company

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) act as an employee benefit plan. They allow a company’s employees to become owners of that company.

By regularly giving shares of the company to its employees, a company should see a number of benefits, such as increased employee productivity, stronger retention, and improved job satisfaction. In turn, a company may experience higher profitability, lower turnover, and is more able to recover from economic downturns.

At ASEC, we are an employee-owned small business. We are proud to be able to offer our employees an employee stock option plan and all the benefits it entails. Our mission is to make sure everyone who works at ASEC has a sense of ownership in the success of the company.

How An ESOP Benefits Employees

Since an ESOP is a company-funded retirement plan (similar to 401K and profit-sharing plans) that provides tax deferred investments for employees, it is an investment in its employees’ futures.

What does this mean for the employee-owner? And what about for the company?

As an employee, you will accumulate capital for your future retirement at no cost to you whatsoever, while the company gets the benefit of ensuring that their interest and the employee’s interest stays aligned.  

At this point you may be thinking that it sounds like being a part of an ESOP gets you free money.

Essentially… yes!

Every year ASEC contributes a percentage of your salary to a trust in your name. The specific amount of that percentage is determined after an independent audit is done from the previous year.

The annual profit and growth of the company, which are a direct result of your hard work as an employee during the year, will generally affect the value of the shares of company stock that get allocated to your personal account.

Contributions will vary from year to year, but as an employee owner you could expect to see amounts ranging from 2% to 4% of your annual salary. 

Instead of other retirement plans where you’re donating a portion of your paycheck, your only contribution to this plan is your dedication to the company, your career, and to our mission of supporting our nation’s warfighter.

The Tax Benefits Of An ESOP

With an Employee Stock Option Plan, a company’s employees don’t pay tax when their shares are contributed to the ESOP. Instead, those taxes come with the distribution, at a rate that is favorable to them.

What’s more, these distributions are allowed to be rolled into an IRA (or comparable retirement plan) while they accumulate gains, meaning they can be taxed as capital gains later.

The Disadvantages Of An ESOP

Now that you’ve heard your hard work at ASEC is rewarded with both a paycheck and shares of the company you’re supporting, you must be wondering what the drawbacks to an ESOP are.

You know, what’s the fine print?

There really isn’t any. We promise! You are eligible to receive a distribution of the vested plan benefit allocated to your accounts beginning at a certain period after your separation from employment with ASEC.

For example, if you retire at the age of 65, you’d receive your ESOP distribution starting the following year in up to 5 equal annual installments; amounts below $10,000 would be paid in a lump sum.

Join ASEC, And Be A Part Of Our ESOP

We hope we’ve piqued your interest in ESOPs and what it means to be an employee-owner. This plan is yet another way ASEC rewards its employees for their hard work and commitment to the organization. If you’d like to be a part of an employee-owned company, we encourage youto learn more about ASEC here, then view our open job opportunities here.

Why Information Security Is Mission Critical, And How To Get Involved

If you’re wondering just how important information security is becoming, we have an alarming statistic for you: recently, Cisco reported that more than 85% of organizations have had a user interact with a phishing site.

Diverse Group of Professionals Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmers Use Computer Together, Talk Strategy, Discuss Planning. Software Engineers Develop Inspirational App Program

As digital technologies become a more central part of our personal and professional lives, it’s unfortunate that threats like phishing, ransomware, trojans, DNS attacks, and more will only increase.

No one is immune to these threats; not you, not me, not even the biggest corporations in the world. This is why the demand for information security professionals continues to rise. 

In fact, we could see the number of information security and cyber security jobs grow by 33% by 2030, with average salaries falling between $88,325 to $164,861 per year, according to Simplilearn.

It’s one thing to know that these kinds of jobs are on the rise and that they are well-compensated. If you really want to pursue these fields, it’s important to fully understand what they entail.

The Importance of Information Security

Let’s start by making sure we’re on the same page with what information security is. Then we can break down a few of the jobs in the field.

At its most fundamental level, information security is centered on the tools and processes an organization uses to keep its information safe and secure. 

Occasionally referred to as InfoSec, this can also cover any sort of policy setting used to keep unauthorized personnel from accessing information, be it personal or professional.

Now, that sounds broad, and it’s true. In this modern age of data, information is connected to nearly everything we do online. Because of that expansiveness, InfoSec is an ever-evolving field that includes many other sectors, like infrastructure security, network security, testing, auditing, and more. 

The Goal of Information Security

We want to keep critical data safe and private. That includes customer account details, financial information, and IP. Information security is how we go about protecting all of that sensitive data from any sort of tampering, which might include modifying, recording, stealing, or destroying that data.

Should any of those security incidents come to pass, the costs can be high. From real financial costs to harder-to-pin-down costs like damage to your personal or professional reputation, information security’s digital purview has real-world implications. 

Two Information Security Careers You Need to Know About

Now that you have a sense of the importance of information security to our modern world, let’s discuss some tangible ways you can get involved in the sector.

Below are two information security careers offered at ASEC. These positions typically support critical DoD/Navy programs and will require a government security clearance of Secret or Top Secret. 

1. Information Systems Security Manager (ISSM)

The Information Systems Security Manager is responsible for establishing policies and procedures to protect computer systems and networks. To perform their job, this IT professional will select, install, and use security softwares like data encryption programs and firewalls.

In addition to these duties, they will monitor, document, and look up security breaches in order to improve system security. They will also be in charge of setting up emergency plans for lockdown and/or the recovery of sensitive information.

In terms of the security team, ISSMs may manage Information Systems Security Officers (ISSOs), Network Administrators, and System Administrators.  

2. Information Systems Security Officer (ISSO)

At ASEC, the Information Systems Security Officer supports classified computing environments, ensures adherence to our relevant Risk Management Framework (RMF) or Joint Special Access Program Implementation Guide (JSIG) policies.

They also typically serve as the principal advisor to the ISSM on all matters, technical and otherwise, involving an information system’s security.

Continuing Your Career In Information Security

As ASEC, we are passionate about supporting the mission-critical needs of our government customers. One of the most powerful ways we can support those needs going forward is through information security.

If you are ready for the next challenge in your InfoSec career, we want to hear from you.

To find out more about our career opportunities in this exciting field, please visit our Job Openings page today.