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David Gong - Chance Meeting Can Change a Life
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Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance. Life changed in one day for COOP David Gong Sarah when his mom ran into former Special Assistant for Diversity, Sharon Wong.

Name: David Gong
Age: 30
Hometown: Long Island, NY
Position: Human Resources Specialist
School: University of Maryland University College (M.S.); University of Maryland, College Park (B.S.)
Major: M.S. in Management: Human Resources Specialization; B.S. in Economics w/ Business Management

Describe how you do your job, where you do it.

I work in the Office of Human Capital Management (OHCM) within the Performance and Worklife Dynamics Office, Code 115. I have rotated between groups within my organization, including employee relations, labor relations, performance management, and awards. Our work requires a lot of collaboration with co-workers, supervisors, and employees as well as researching and developing documents.

What is a typical day on the job like for you?

My job involves collaboration with co-workers, research through various databases, writing and reviewing documents, working cases, and meeting with supervisors and employees. I provide guidance to supervisors, which sometimes requires receiving guidance from the Office of Chief Counsel, Equal
Photo of David Gong› Larger image
Photo of David Gong in his office. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
Opportunity Programs Office, or NSSC (NASA Shared Services Center). I also provide internal technological assistance because I am the “spreadsheets guy” in my group, but I don’t mind because I enjoy it.

In what way does teamwork play a role in your daily tasks?

My job relies on teamwork and collaboration in order to complete daily tasks. As a COOP, the majority of my work is reviewed internally, which may also be reviewed externally by the Office of Chief Counsel and management. Our team discusses cases on a daily basis to gain feedback and guidance, discuss similar topics, and ensure everyone is headed in the right direction.

How did you find out about the opportunity here at Goddard?

My mother ran into the former Special Assistant for Diversity, Sharon Wong, and she mentioned that Goddard was hiring COOPs, but I needed to submit my application that day. I was working in the private sector at the time, but was looking to transition into HR in the government.
Photo of David Gong with his group of coops.› Larger image
David Gong with his 2013 Coop group. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk

Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with here at Goddard?

Director of OHCM Ron Brade’s career path is very inspiring, especially because he started off as a COOP like me and my peers. I highly respect his welcoming personality and being so down to earth for someone at his level. I appreciate his open door policy and taking the time out of his schedule to tag-up with each COOP. He inspires me because of his drive for continual improvement, patience, ability to think outside of the box, and he does it all with a smile.

How will this opportunity help you reach your future goals (job experience, college, career goals etc?)

This opportunity as a COOP has allowed me to gain valuable work experience in the HR field while attending school. Rotating through different groups has allowed me to gain experience in various fields. This opportunity has helped me reach my goal of attaining my master’s degree, which I just completed in December 2012. I am being converted from a COOP and hope to sustain a long career while gaining vast amounts of knowledge along the way.

What event/activity/project are you most excited about or have done at Goddard?

During my rotation in performance management, I assisted in the development process of the SPACE (Standard Performance Appraisal Communications Environment) tool and I’m excited for its implementation. This will make the performance appraisal process much easier for everyone because all processes will be automated and web-based. Supervisors will have an easier time developing performance standards and employees will be able to access their information at any time online.

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

I enjoy Goddard’s culture that promotes quality of worklife, well-being of employees, and convenience. I have met many admirable people at Goddard and enjoy working with a great group of people.

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their internship at Goddard?

Take advantage of opportunities to meet people and network. Don’t be nervous to speak with people in high ranking positions because they are usually down to earth, approachable and the Goddard culture is welcoming. Also, just come to work and do your best with a can-do attitude, but ask for help when you need it because people at Goddard are willing to help.

What are your hobbies outside of the workplace?

Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of tennis because it’s the only sport that I can play well given my various injuries. When it’s warm, I go hiking or find trails with my wife and dog. I enjoy watching TV shows, movies and YouTube clips, relaxing at home, eating good food and watching sports with friends.

If you could meet and talk to anybody, alive or dead, who would it be what’s the first thing you’d ask them?

Michael Jordan. Can you teach me your jump shot?

Is there some place in the world that you want to visit, or some place you have been and want to go back to?

I would love to go back to Italy because I went once in high school, but I think I would appreciate the visit much more now. I remember the architecture in Italy being absolutely amazing and I think my wife would love it too.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD