The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is Building Strong by providing innovative engineering solutions to the Nation, challenging and rewarding careers, and professional growth opportunities. Kayla Toy’s Department of the Army intern experience at the Far East District has contributed to her strong foundation and promising future in the engineering field.
“I attended many internal and external meetings and traveled to different project sites around Camp Humphreys,” said Toy. “Through those experiences, I learned about the different roles and responsibilities within a project development team.
“I also had the opportunity to learn from others in the Office of Counsel, Internal Review, and the Geotechnical and Environmental Branch. In just three months, I developed a greater understanding of my role as a project manager and Corps employee, and how it all culminates to support the organization’s overall mission,” she said.
Toy received her undergraduate degree in Conservation and Resource Studies, with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation and Ecology from the University of California, Berkeley, May 2020. While going to school, she worked part-time as a Programs and Project Management Department (PPMD) student trainee for the Corps’ San Francisco District.
Toy began working in the Los Angeles District, October 2020, as a regulatory project manager. She joined the two-year DA intern program in January 2021 and completed rotations in the Planning and PPMD Divisions.
Toy’s recent FED intern rotation was with the Installation Support Branch of PPMD. Her knowledge has expanded from that experience.
“I learned from several project managers (PM) about the different project management processes and was able to manage some of my own projects with their guidance. The PMs helped me better understand the project budgeting process and walked me through how funds are processed and distributed amongst a project delivery team,” said Toy.
“The best part of my time with FED was the day-to-day interactions with my coworkers,” she said. “The ability to have face-to-face interactions with people helped me learn more efficiently because I was able to ask questions and have more in-depth conversations with everyone. I also had the pleasure of meeting new people every day and foster positive relationships with my fellow coworkers.”
When asked who was most influential during her time at FED and who was a strong female role model in her life, in celebration of Women’s History Month, Toy said, “while I could name many people at FED who have inspired me in both my career and personal life, I am especially appreciative of Vince Lee, (Installation Support Branch project manager) who was essentially my sponsor and mentor at FED. He came into work every day with a positive attitude and emphasized the importance of working a job you are passionate about. He has given me great advice about my career and has ignited a spark in me to follow my dreams and live my life to its fullest potential.
“One of my female role models is my LA District mentor, Dr. Amanda Wagner. She was a regulatory project manager in the LA and San Bernardino section and was recently promoted to senior project manager in the San Diego and Imperial Counties section. I am amazed with her work ethic, professionalism, and knowledge of all the rules and regulations – all of which make her a highly skilled regulator. She inspires me to pursue higher education and succeed in my career,” said Toy.
Following the conclusion of her FED rotation in March, Toy will return to Southern California to be reunited with her pet parakeet named Chicken. Toy’s internship is set to complete October 2022. She will then advance to a permanent position in the Corps.
Toy plans to earn Project Management Professional certification and return to school to earn a master’s degree in an environmental science.
“I think the DA intern program is unlike any other program you’ll find in a federal government organization,” said Toy. “It is so unique because you are given opportunities to not only rotate through different departments, but also different districts. It broadens your horizons both personally and professionally, and it proves that the possibilities for your career are endless with the Corps. I see myself working in the Corps long-term and hope I can return to an overseas district in the future.”