Some people pursue their calling in life, leading them straight to the destination they always imagined. Christine Jost isn’t one of those people. In every stage of her life, Jost pursued the unexpected. She joined the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) Education, Communication, History, and Outreach (ECHO) team a few months ago, with a story chock-full of twists and turns.
Jost’s first pivot was after high school when the University of Missouri awarded her a partial athletic scholarship. “I just was so excited that I got a scholarship that I didn't really think it through. So here I go from this small high school to this huge university. I was completely overwhelmed,” she said.
In fact, one semester, she left college, decided not to return, and joined the military instead. She chose the Navy, thinking she might have a better chance of locating near the beach.
Boot camp offered an unexpected opportunity. “At boot camp, they said females could be part of what's called EOD. That stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal,” Jost said. “So basically, it's the bomb squad for the military.”
Explosive Ordnance Disposal demands were tough, but Jost had a couple of advantages. “I had just finished the 1989 Miss Massachusetts bodybuilding competition, so the physical fitness part of it was, and I don't mean this in a conceited way, but it was pretty darn easy,” she said.
Even in the sweltering Georgia summer heat, she thrived at Jump School, a U.S. Army paratrooper airborne training program. “I had a blast. I mean, it was just a great time,” she said.
Encouraged by the Army-Navy rivalry, “I was the first out of the door for all five qualifying jumps, and I loved it. It's like going on a roller coaster ride that, at first, you're nervous and thinking, I don't know if I want to do this. And then you do it, and you want to get back in line and get right back on and do it again.”
“I was the seventh female in the United States military to qualify as an EOD Tech,” Jost said. With EOD comes requirements, called ratings. Jost’s rating was maintaining nuclear weapons. It was here, as a Weapons Technician (WT), she discovered a purpose amidst nuclear weapons and radioactivity, picking up knowledge that would help her excel when she started working with LM years later.
After her military service, Jost searched for a good fit for her newly acquired skills in leadership, management, and discipline. After running a bed and breakfast in Alaska, she stumbled across Mary Kay. Yes, that Mary Kay. “As corny as it may sound, a lot of the things that I’ve learned about leadership and management and discipline beyond the Navy was through Mary Kay. Everybody sells something. It all comes down to being a good communicator,” she said. She quickly rose through the ranks of the home beauty juggernaut, earning the iconic pink Cadillac — a testament to her success in one of the most underrated, real-life business management opportunities for women.
In 2008, Jost accepted a position in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit workers for jobs that can be difficult to fill. "I produced radio and TV ads and all sorts of things to recruit those hard-to-fill positions, which was extremely rewarding but also very challenging,” Jost said. As the supervisor for patient advocates, she moved on from disarming bombs to supporting veterans.
Then, she experienced another pivot, one that she never imagined. “I was on the USAJOBS website and saw a post for an LM position. I didn’t even know what LM was,” Jost said.
Deciding to take another leap of faith, she landed one of her most rewarding positions to date. All the skills she learned throughout her career made her a perfect fit for LM. Being a leader, an organized manager, and a good communicator helped Jost get where she is today. “I want to make sure that as a communications expert, I’m helping LM get the information we need and promote more positive experiences,” she said.
Among all the twists and turns of her career, Jost was determined to follow her passions and set an example for her two daughters, Victoria and Jo Ann. Both were inspired to follow in their mom’s footsteps. Victoria graduated as a Seabee (construction battalion) Engineering Officer from the U. S. Naval Academy. Jo Ann went the enlisted route, completing one enlistment as an Airdale, a sailor who works in the Navy’s aviation community.
“I’m very proud of my daughters. Not just because they went Navy, but because they aren’t afraid of hard work, and they go after their goals,” Jost said.
As Jost repeatedly pursued the unexpected, she hopes to continually make a positive impact on LM and inspire those around her.