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  1. About FDA

Sofia Blom, Paralegal Specialist, Center for Tobacco Products in the Office of Compliance and Enforcement

-Sofia Blom, Paralegal Specialist, Center for Tobacco Products in the Office of Compliance and Enforcement

Sofia Blom

How did your career begin at FDA?

I started working for the Center for Tobacco Products in October 2019, but my career as a Paralegal Specialist for the federal government started all the way back in 1999. It was then when I enlisted in the military and joined the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a 71D Legal Specialist (later 27D Paralegal Specialist). I ended up wearing a US Army uniform for almost 18 years until I was medically retired in 2016. I accepted a civilian position with the Executive Office of Immigration Review in 2017 and I worked as Legal Assistant at the Arlington Immigration Court for more than two years. I then decided to leave my old agency in 2019 due to limited upward mobility within the agency and ended up applying for a position with the FDA due to me being attracted to its overall health mission. My application got accepted and I have been working as a Paralegal Specialist at the Center for Tobacco Products ever since.

What do you value most about working at FDA?

I truly value the supportive environment at FDA as I am a transgender woman who started my gender transition after starting at the center. I have found that my coworkers, my supervisors, and the management are all very understanding, accepting, and supportive of my journey of profound self-realization and self-actualization. Now, they are also being supportive of the next steps in my life journey which is going to seminary to become an ordained minister. I greatly appreciate and value the supportive environment at the Center for Tobacco Products which has made it possible for me to finally becoming the person I was always meant to be. For that, I will always be thankful. 

What Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are you a part of at FDA?

FDA Pride 

What are you most proud of in terms of your work at FDA? 

I am proud of the health mission of the Center for Tobacco Products and its fight to keep tobacco products out of minors’ hands. I had a grandparent who was a chain-smoker and died way too early from heart disease caused by tobacco —seeing her struggle with her nicotine addiction and witnessing her health deteriorating right before my eyes left a lasting impact on me. I am now proud to be a part of a team that actively works to prevent underage smoking and hopefully our combined effort will help prevent many unnecessary deaths in the future.

What advice would you give to an FDA job seeker?

My advice is not to apply to every single FDA job advertisement you find on USAJobs. Prioritize quality before quantity in your job hunt and make every single application count. Sending out hundreds of generic applications will not get you any closer to your dream job; but a few well-prepared applications might do just that. I only applied for ten job positions advertised on USAJobs, but I made sure that I was reasonably qualified for each one of those positions. I also tailored my resume for each one of them to highlight my qualifications and experiences which matched the ones that the hiring authority was looking for in their job ads. Yes, I only applied for ten positions, but I got referred to eight, interviewed for four, and in the end received two job offers. I did that by being highly selective about the job positions I applied for and tailoring my resume for each application.

When you’re not at work, what is your favorite way to unwind?

I have a busy social life that keeps my calendar full and I particularly value spending quality time with my daughter, my fiancée, and my chosen family when I am not working. I also find staying involved and active in my church community to be a great way to unwind and recharge after a long work week. 

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