November 2022 Edition

Laura Adochio, Program Lead, DIS

For Laura Adochio, a Decision and Infrastructure Sciences program manager of a vulnerability and threat analysis program with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, making the choice to leave her computer science career in the 1990s to focus on raising her children was relatively easy.

Returning to the workforce 13 years later, however, was not.

LinkedIn and Facebook existed but they weren’t prevalent. Old-school networking efforts – lunches, phone calls, and emerging email – didn’t help her compete with younger computer scientists with up-to-date skills. Remote work wasn’t an option.

“Once I left, I couldn’t get back in,” said Adochio, whose math and computer science degree initially served her well as an IT developer. “I attempted to rejoin the workforce in the early 2000s, but I couldn’t get a job in tech because my skills were a decade old and the market was flooded. No one wanted to hire someone who had to be brought up to speed.”

Adochio had devoted her time to raising her daughters, helping with church and school functions, running Girl Scouts programming, and filling the countless other volunteer needs every community has. Those turned out to be the building block upon which she rebuilt her career.

“A lot of that is really project management, so I was able to pull all of it together and matrix it into project management experience,” she said.

Today, Adochio manages a $3-$4 million per year federal protective service portfolio. It includes a robust methodology and IT system for understanding risk and helps protect federal facilities and the people who work and visit there.

The role also offers her the flexibility to live and work from Florida, where she enjoys evening pool time and observing wildlife, as well as connecting with her three grown daughters, who are now in a stage of life where they may face the same decisions their mother faced years ago.

Would Adochio advise them to follow her path?

“The answer to that is different for everyone,” she reflected. “The greatest challenge of my career was trying to come back after being out, but I don’t think I would have wanted to balance those two things simultaneously. When I’m working, I want to solely focus on getting things done and am dedicated to work. When I had kids, I wanted to be invested in that. In the end, I think I ended up exactly where I am supposed to be. I wouldn’t go back and trade any of it.”