Author: nxtgov

Path to Public Service Profile featuring Matthew Smith

Path to Public Service Profile featuring Matthew Smith

Name: Matthew Smith

Job Title: Business Continuity Coordinator

Recommended Reading:  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Song stuck in your head right now: “Free (with Drew Love)” by Louis The Child


What was your path into public service?

If I’m being honest, I actually kind of stumbled upon public service. I went to college at UC San Diego and when I graduated I truly had no intention of pursuing a career in the public sector. I planned to work as a sports reporter at a San Diego news station. All of my plans changed when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I had a choice: stay in San Diego and pursue my career or return home to Sacramento and spend as much time with my father while I still could. To me it was a no-brainer. I was driving up Interstate-80 the next week. I was able to spend several quality months with my father before he passed, and I’ll never once regret making the choice that I did. 

With that being said, I still needed a job! Sacramento is home to many California state agencies and it only made sense to pursue a job with one. Week after week I sent out applications in the mail. At the time it was paper only, and let me just say that I’m so happy the state chose to allow online applications. I had a great process down: print out all the jobs I qualified for, fill out the applications all week, and send out a mass of papers on Friday. My local post office soon began to greet me by name when I walked in. I had a few interviews here and there, but not much luck until I had an interview at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS. I interviewed for two positions at CalSTRS, and although I didn’t get the first one, I made enough of an impression to get the second one.  

That was five years ago in April, and I’ve grown to love working for the State. What keeps me motivated is the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I’ve been blessed to have truly caring and inspirational people around me. At CalSTRS, our mission to serve California’s teachers is integral to everything we do and I love working for an agency with such defined, meaningful goals. Through NxtGov I’ve met people outside my agency that are just as caring and inspirational, and I’ve come to realize that people are naturally passionate when they have a clear goal in sight and are working to achieve it. Working with such great people and the ability to develop myself both professionally and personally will keep me in public service for a long time. 

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now? 

At CalSTRS I work in a very small field, Business Continuity. It’s not well known or advertised, but state agencies are mandated to have plans in place for emergencies that may occur. Business Continuity is the ability for an organization to continue critical business processes during or immediately following an emergency incident of any kind. CalSTRS’ ability to function is critical to the lives of California’s teachers and if even a day is missed there are severe consequences. It’s my job to make sure an event doesn’t disrupt business by identifying and developing plans for CalSTRS’ most critical business functions. 

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in state service? 

I would say don’t get discouraged during the whole process.  Being rejected for a position or denied an opportunity to interview can be so difficult and destructive for one’s confidence. It can make one jaded or even discourage them from continuing to apply. I think landing the job is a combination of skill and timing. Continuously work to improve your skill set and the timing will take care of itself. Whatever you do, don’t lose hope! Once you get that interview, make sure you’re connecting on a personal level with those you’re interviewing with. Sometimes the connection a hiring manager feels to you will overcome your lack of technical knowledge. 

How do you get the most out of working in public service?

Just like in life, it’s all about how much you put in it. You should be looking to develop yourself every day. Never settle or get too relaxed! Keep challenging yourself to take on new projects, develop new skills, and learn new techniques. Take as many training classes as possible. Listen to podcasts or read books to gain more knowledge of areas you want to improve in. Build as large a social network as you can, and provide value to others rather than just yourself. Have mentors and friends in other business areas to give you knowledge of the work they do. Volunteer in your community helping out in areas you’re passionate about. In general: be the best version of yourself you can be and make sure to enjoy life along the way! 


Check out our other Paths to Public Service Profiles!

Interested in sharing your story? Let us know!

11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Written by NxtGov member Arthur Shemitz

We choose a career in public service so that we can be of service to the public. We believe in contributing to the common good, and working hard every day to make a better California. As individuals who have dedicated our careers to bettering the world, we are leaders in our communities.

The global coronavirus pandemic, and the catastrophe it has caused, is an unprecedented call to public service. When so many are losing so much, it is time to serve and advocate for our fellow Californians, especially the most vulnerable among us. 

While the pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, many of the people most affected and worried by the spread of the virus are people with disabilities. As you know, the most vulnerable groups are older people — 40% of whom have at least one disability — and those who are immunodeficient or have underlying respiratory conditions. 

Here’s the good news: by practicing good hand washing, socially distancing, and self-quarantining if you have symptoms of a respiratory condition, you are already helping prevent the spread of infection to the most vulnerable. But we can always do more, so we’re excited to share 11 more ways to support people with disabilities during the pandemic. Each one has its own link to reference material or opportunities to get involved, so you can easily take action.

1. Call out people who dismiss the risks

We are fortunate that the majority of the population is not at significant risk of death from the novel coronavirus. However, people with compromised immune systems or underlying respiratory conditions — such as those with certain chronic illnesses, HIV-positive people, or people with asthma — are at serious risk. Despite this, you can still find public figures saying things like “it’s not a big deal because most people aren’t at risk.” It is a big deal that members of our community are at serious risk. When you see and hear these messages, correct them and share your knowledge of the severe threat COVID-19 poses to the disability community.

Read more: When you say coronavirus will only kill the vulnerable, you’re talking about me

2. Amplify public health directives

Because COVID-19 poses a particular threat to people with disabilities, it’s important to ensure people are following directives from public health officials. This is the time to use peer pressure for good. If your friends and family members, coworkers, or members of your community organizations are not taking social distancing seriously, don’t hesitate to call them out. Lives are at stake!

Read more: How to Use Psychology to Convince People to Take Social Distancing Seriously

3. Share information responsibly

There is so much worry and concern in the air, and so much confusion around what is still a developing pandemic. This is a ripe environment for rumors, misinformation, and conspiracy theories to circulate. Share accurate guidance from public health experts and debunk false information you see on social networking sites. Unfounded information could truly be a matter of life and death.

Read more: CDC Resources on COVID-19, CDPH Resources on COVID-19, COVID-19 Disability Community Preparedness Resources

4. Accommodate remote work, even after this ends

Many people with disabilities would have always benefited from remote work because chronic illnesses make it painful for them to travel to the workplace, or because their workplace is not as physically accommodating as their home, or for other reasons but were previously told it wasn’t an option. The novel coronavirus has demonstrated that more work can be done remotely than we previously realized. Whenever these restrictions lift, keep these lessons in mind and work to normalize remote work in the future.

Read more: Disabled people have worked remotely for years, and they’ve got advice for you and your bosses

5. Check in with and run errands for loved ones with disabilities

This is a scary time for folks who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. If they start to run out of food or other essential supplies, it may be terrifying to imagine going to the grocery store and potentially exposing themselves to the virus. Proactively check in on your friends and family who are at risk, and offer to do their grocery shopping or any other errands at this time.

Read more:10 ways to help your neighbors and friends during the coronavirus crisis,” “How To Check In On Friends’ & Family’s Mental Health During The Coronavirus Pandemic

6. Volunteer (in a socially distant manner)

Even though most physical volunteer opportunities are cancelled, there are still plenty of ways to support the disability community through remote and in-person volunteering. Kelly Joy, our Director of Community Engagement wrote an article on this topic that explores Sacramento’s opportunities for giving back to our community right now.

Volunteer: You may have a lot more time on your hands, so now is the time to give back! 

Be My Eyes is an app that lets sighted volunteers provide free visual navigation and assistance to blind and low-vision people through live video.

Crisis Text Line is a free crisis intervention service available through text messaging. Individuals who experience suicidal thoughts are especially at risk during this time of isolation and disruption of normal routines, and this is a critical time to help.

Bookshare offers free or low-cost accessible ebooks to people with disabilities that make reading traditional ebooks challenging. You can volunteer online to scan books, or edit existing scans.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, which disproportionately serves people with disabilities, remains open and has an urgent need for volunteers. Normal volunteer orientation requirements have been waived, and Food Bank staff ensure that all volunteers comply with social distancing requirements.

7. Donate where it is needed most

The state of the economy, and individuals’ personal finances, have both changed rapidly. If you have money to give, now is a critical time to contribute to organizations and individuals in the Sacramento community and beyond. (Plus, the 2020 tax year will feature a $300 tax deduction for charitable contributions, even if you don’t itemize your deductions — just another reason to give.)

Donate: Sacramento COVID-19 Mutual Aid, Donate4Sacramento COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, Disability Justice Culture Club

8. Redirect some or all of your stimulus check

As public employees in heavily unionized workplaces, we typically enjoy a level of job security that others do not especially relative to many people with disabilities, who are often the last to be hired and the first to be let go. Because of that, if you are expecting to receive a $1,200+ stimulus payment from the federal government, your need may be less than the need of many in the disability community. (Of course, everyone’s individual circumstances vary and you may have a spouse or loved ones who have lost their job, or you may otherwise be economically impacted by COVID-19.) Consider whether your stimulus payment would be more effectively used to support organizations supporting people with disabilities.

Read more: #ShareMyCheck

9. Donate blood

Our hospitals are about to be deeply strained, just as blood drives traditionally held at schools and workplaces have been canceled. If you can meet the screening criteria, donate as soon as you can.

Donate: Vitalant, American Red Cross

10. Advocate for coronavirus relief to include and prioritize people with disabilities

In times of crisis, the needs of people with disabilities are often neglected or pushed aside as too inconvenient to deal with. Speak up and amplify demands for the ongoing prioritization of the most vulnerable.

Read more: #DisabilityDemands

11. Take care of yourself

You can’t be an effective advocate or support system to your friends and family if you’re not prioritizing your own needs. These are stressful times, and you deserve to pay loving attention to yourself as well. If you feel overextended, take some time to care for yourself and restore your energy.

Read more: “15 ways to practice self-care in the time of coronavirus”

This is hard and scary, and it will stay hard and scary. But with just a little investment of time, you can make this a little less hard and scary for someone else. And when you do good for others, you feel better about yourself. Our community is counting on your public service, and I’m so excited for the good you will do and are already doing. 

Community Engagement and COVID-19: 12 Things You Can Do To Help Right Now

Community Engagement and COVID-19: 12 Things You Can Do To Help Right Now

Stop Asking “Why” and Start Asking “How”

Written by Kelly Joy, Director of Community Engagement


Note: We will continue to edit this blog post as needs and opportunities are rapidly changing in our community. Feel free to reach out with questions or suggestions by commenting on this blog post! 

This really sucks. It sucks for people, it sucks for businesses, and it sucks for our community. The social fabric of our society is, for the time being, irreparably altered. Try not to ask yourself “why?” because there is no real answer. And you honestly wouldn’t feel better even if there were an answer. Instead of asking “why,” I implore you instead to shift your thinking to asking “how.” 

So “how” do we all cope with it all? The first answer is gratitude. Whenever I am stuck in a rut of feeling like the weight of the world is pressing on my chest, I challenge myself to think of something I am thankful for. It can feel difficult at the time, but it still doesn’t usually take long to think of something. For example, having a job at this time feels more like a privilege now than it did two weeks ago. I’m grateful for technology that allows me to keep in close contact with my friends and family when I can’t see them in person. At an even more fundamental level, I am grateful to have a roof over my head and food in my fridge. I feel fortunate that all of my family members are healthy — this isn’t the case for many. 

No matter how bad things feel, we can always be grateful for something. It can be easy to fall into the trap of asking “Why did this happen?” or “Why do I need to cancel this important event?” or “Why can’t I travel on this planned vacation?” or “Why does this feel so sad?” I encourage you instead to ask “How can I help?”

You may not be able to fix all of the problems in this world, but I promise you, you can do something. Take comfort in that fact. You can help. You can make a difference for others, and the bonus is that it will actually make you feel better, too. 

Here are actual, manageable actions that you can take to help others in your community. If you live in Sacramento, I have included links to local organizations actively seeking help. 

1. Donate blood

Hospitals and other medical facilities are on overdrive right now with an expected surge in patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an urgent blood shortage in many places to meet this high demand. Many planned blood drives needed to cancel with all of the recent orders to shelter in place, but blood banks are still open and strongly encouraging donations. Every donation can save up to three lives! 

How you can help: The American Red Cross has a tool to look up blood drives in your area. In Sacramento, you can make an appointment directly with Vitalant (previously known as BloodSource). Note that there are some travel and health restrictions to donate. 

2. Foster a pet

Local animal shelters have been hit with a double whammy. People aren’t coming to adopt animals right now, and shelter employees are staying home in order to quarantine or self-isolate. This leads shelters to have lower capacity to keep and take care of the animals, and some are even at risk of closing.

How you can help: If you are in a position right now where you can foster a pet —- especially a dog — contact your local animal shelter to ask if they need animal fosters. In Sacramento, the Sacramento SPCA is in need of emergency foster parents for large dogs. Added bonus: a new pal to keep you company while working remotely!

3. Support local businesses

Local businesses have been hit so hard right now. Foot traffic for restaurants is at a standstill, and people are no longer frequenting dine-in restaurants at all.

How you can help: You can do a lot even just by grabbing take out from a local (especially family-owned) restaurant that is still open. You can also purchase gift cards to use at a later time. This gives the business your money now to get them through this tough time, and you can redeem the gift card later. Some local businesses have continued to operate, but have moved sales online, including Capital Books on K, Shop Cuffs, and Oak Park’s Strapping. Many local businesses are running promotions as well, including Elevation Ten Winery, which is currently offering 30% off all wine as well as $5 shipping for orders of four bottles or more. If you’re wondering if your favorite local restaurant is still offering takeout or curbside pick-up, this spreadsheet lists local restaurants and the services they still offer. Check out their social media accounts for the latest updates.

Also, if you have a recurring payment to a local business like a gym, coworking space or child-care provider, try to keep that commitment if you can, even if the business has been forced to close temporarily. 

4. Tip Well

The workers preparing take-out orders and delivering our groceries are busier than ever and are offering us an essential service. Many of these people are also worried about contracting the virus and about the health of their own friends and family. Some are taking on this type of “gig” work because they were suddenly displaced from their normal job. You can give extra support to these people who are giving extra support to us.

How you can help: Tip more than you usually would if you have the means. Those of us who are steadily employed can do our part to keep the service industry thriving.

5. Pick up trash

You’ll be surprised how much trash is outside once you start looking for it. It’s a big, gross problem that doesn’t get better unless someone does something about it. You can be that someone.

How you can help: If you are going outside for some kind of “essential” activity, you can bring gloves and a bag and pick up trash you see on the way. This is a great way to beautify the community, and it is an especially great activity for introverts and/or those who thrive on instant gratification. You can immediately see and measure the impact of your few minutes outside making things nicer for everyone. It also comes with the bonus of giving you an excuse to spend an extra couple minutes outside.

6. Call your friends and family

Of all of the coronavirus-related content online, one of my favorites thus far has been: “Introverts: Put down your book and check on your extroverted friends. They are not okay.” Everyone is struggling right now, and just because we can’t be in the same room anymore does not mean that we can’t still support one another. And no, your extroverted friends are not okay.

How you can help: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but here are some extra things to consider. Make sure to check in on family and friends, especially people you know in high-risk groups, including ones who are immunocompromised, have underlying health conditions, are over 65 years old, etc. 

Some specific strategies: Group messages, FaceTime or video chat, Marco Polo, and call your grandparents! (And also text the extroverts.)

7. Donate

So many nonprofits are struggling right now. If you have money to donate, there is no shortage of worthy causes to donate to. There are also causes you can donate goods to as opposed to cash donations.

How you can help: Pick a cause, any cause! There are seriously so many, but some are especially impacted by this recent epidemic. Causes that are supporting people affected by job loss, medical expenses, school closures, etc. are all doing very important work that deserves support. If you are in a position to give, give to a cause you feel passionately about. If you are looking for particular examples, here are a couple to choose from:

YMCA: The YMCA has opened up emergency childcare centers for parents adversely affected by school closures (across the country, from what I can tell). Most parents — including “essential” workers like doctors, nurses, social workers, emergency responders, etc. — rely on school or daycare for their children in order to work. 

Starting Point for Refugee Children: Starting Point is a Sacramento-based nonprofit that supports newly-arrived children and families by providing them with necessities for their new lives. Starting Point is in need of basic goods such as rice, flour, sugar, pasta, dried beans, nuts and dried fruit. If you have picked up any extra of these goods in your recent bulk-shopping trips, you can donate some to Starting Point directly or through NxtGov’s upcoming drive for this charity. (Reach out and/or follow us on social media for more information on our drive coming soon!)

Sacramento Loaves & Fishes: Sacramento Loaves and Fishes is a local charity that has an ongoing needs list of supplies for people in the community who are in need of basic necessities. The list includes toilet paper, diapers, blankets, reusable water bottles, backpacks, tents, batteries, clothes and pet food. 

Save Our Local Restaurants: Mayor Steinberg has joined forces with local chambers of commerce and other community partners to support Sacramento’s locally-owned bars and restaurants from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. These business owners and employees have been profoundly affected, and donating to the Save Our Local Restaurants GoFundMe  will help these local businesses stay afloat during this difficult time. 

Mask Match: You have likely already heard about the shortage of protective gear for healthcare workers, which leaves them more at risk of contracting COVID-19. Mask Match is a platform that helps connect people with spare masks to healthcare facilities who need them right now to protect their employees. If you have any spare N95, P95, R95 or surgical masks, you can fill out an online form to be matched with an organization that is currently seeking donations.

Donate4Sac: A fund specifically created to give back to Sacramento. You may choose to have your contribution used in one of five ways:

  1. Support for Families. This funding adds to the United Way California Capital Region’s COVID-19 Local Relief Fund to provide childcare, meals, rental assistance and other essential resources for families whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  2. Support for Small Businesses. This support leverages and supplements the City of Sacramento’s Small Business Emergency Relief Fund for zero-interest loans to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and their employees.
  3. Services for Our Unhoused Neighbors. Providing services through area nonprofits to unhoused Sacramentans, such as emergency shelters, hygiene stations and other solutions to meet their needs.
  4. Nonprofit Support. This funding will be distributed through the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund, which will rapidly deploy flexible resources to nonprofits working with communities impacted by COVID-19.
  5. General Support. Flexible funding to provide support beyond the areas identified above and wherever it is most needed.

Choose your own: Want to find another nonprofit not listed here? Check out GreatNonprofits to find one you feel passionately about.  

8. Volunteer

If it is easier for you to give your time than it is money right now, there are a number of emergency and essential service providers that are still operating and need people like you to volunteer and help. 

How you can help: Reach out to local nonprofits and inquire about whether they are in need of any volunteers. Below are some local examples in the Sacramento area:

Sacramento 2-1-1: Sacramento’s local information line, 2-1-1, has a need for volunteers to help provide information to callers asking about COVID-19 and the city’s response. There are multiple opportunities for shifts between 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services: As an essential services provider, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services remains open and and is dealing with increased demand. There is always a need for volunteers to sort and bag food for the community, and food bank staff will ensure social distancing requirements are followed. (Donations of cash, food and clothes to the Sacramento Food Bank are also accepted.)

Sacramento Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen: Sacramento Loaves and Fishes is an organization providing hot, nutritious meals to low-income and disadvantaged people in the community. They need volunteers to help prepare and distribute meals.

Sacramento City United School District: SCUSD is asking for volunteers to provide meals for students.

CalVolunteers:  CalVolunteers has a list of California nonprofit organizations and food banks at the front lines in need of volunteers.

9. Boost morale

Remote work and social distancing are big transitions for many in our community. Even for the people who seem to be going about their day as normal, all of the drastic changes in our society have taken a toll. You can do a lot by doing an unexpected act of kindness for others.

How you can help: If you are still going to work as an essential worker, you can bring (individually-packaged) snacks for your coworkers, for example. If you are working remotely, find ways to connect with your coworkers via video. Try to bring positivity and levity to your work. You can also do something similar for others who are still working right now, even if you aren’t. You can even double up on your support by supporting a local business with your purchase!

10. Connect with the needs in your city/neighborhood

Even over the course of writing this article, the needs in our community have changed. New needs pop up while other needs are filled. Getting in touch with the needs in your local community will help you stay connected with how to get involved and help during this challenging time. 

How you can help: Hands on Sacramento is a site that constantly posts new volunteer opportunities in the local area. There is also a Sacramento COVID Volunteer Corps Facebook group that you can join to see needs people are posting in real time. There is also an ongoing Google sheet called Sacramento COVID-19 Mutual Aid 2020 that is tracking needs of individual people in the community. You can help by checking the sheet and providing some help when and where you can. #UniteSac and has an extensive collection of resources and ideas to help out our neighbors in this time of need.  Also, platforms like Nextdoor can help connect you to what is going on in your area (though it isn’t specific to volunteer or donation opportunities). 

11. Self Care

Charity begins at home. If you are mustering all of your effort just to get out of bed in the morning, prioritize taking care of yourself right now. And maybe let others step in to support and help you take care of your needs right now. 

How you can help: Give yourself permission to meet your needs without any judgment or self-criticism. Take a step back from the deluge of social media posts if you need to. In many cases, the most valuable thing we can do is to ask for help. People want to help right now, and they probably don’t know you need it unless/until you ask.

If you do feel like you need some extra help right now, there are companies like TalkSpace providing remote counseling and therapy sessions. Or if you could just use a bit of a break from this socially-distant world, here are a few resources that can help break up the routine of spending so much time at home:

12. Be part of the solution

One of the most helpful things you can do right now is something you are (hopefully!) already doing: listen to everyone telling you to practice “social distancing.” Staying home and refraining from socializing with others is not ideal, but it is what we need right now. If you are already doing this, give yourself a pat on the back. This isn’t easy, and you are already acting in a way that is benefiting the community!

How you can help: Listen to guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, your local health department (e.g. CDPH in California) and other government/community leaders, and take this seriously! These directives continue to change based on the status of the number and location of COVID-19 cases, so follow updates from these trusted sources and act accordingly.

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Jonathan Bray

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Jonathan Bray

Name: Jonathan Bray

Job Title: Associate Governmental Program Analyst/Contract Analyst

Recommended ReadingBasic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Song stuck in your head right now: “Breakdown” by Tom Petty


What was your path into public service?

Before working for the State of California, I worked in the sales industry for a few years. In sales, I found that there wasn’t much satisfaction when it came to who you helped; it was mainly about making money for your company. I wanted a career where I could help people and use my time to better the community I live in.

I decided to change my focus on what I wanted from a profession, so I went back to school at the age of 28 to study Political Science at California State University Sacramento. At the same time, I took an Office Technician position at the Department of Consumer Affairs. I knew that this position wasn’t what I wanted to do in the long run, but I took it to get my foot in the door of State government.

Knowing I wanted to make more of a difference with the type of work I performed, I decided to focus on a specialization. I ended up choosing to learn as much as I could about the rules and regulations related to contracting with the State of California. I took all the available classes and workshops on the subject of contracts, and that helped me land a Staff Services Analyst (SSA) position with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in their Contracts and Procurement Unit.

After being an SSA for a year I was promoted in place to an Associate Governmental Program Analyst/Contract Analyst classification. In my current position, I find more satisfaction on a day-to-day basis because I am helping people and making the community a better place. Having this satisfaction really makes a difference in the type of life you live and makes the lengthy path you have taken to get into public service worth it.

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now?

I am responsible for creating both large and small contracts for all of the Divisions within CARB. I work with many different contractors, liaisons, managers and executives on a daily basis to make sure the final contract is in its most completed form. These contracts help scientists employed by CARB conduct important research on the air we all breathe, so it is important that I do my best to create timely and correct contracts so they can be successful in their work.

Currently, CARB’s Southern California Headquarters is moving from El Monte, California to Riverside, California, and there are large contracts that have to be created to have a successful move. I’m preparing a multi-million dollar moving solicitation contract for moving services to assist with this move. Even though this contract requires a large amount of effort and might be more stressful than others, it is important that I maintain strong communication with all parties involved and keep a positive attitude about the work I do. At the end of the day, the product of work you turn in is a reflection of you and the effort you put into it.

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in State service?

The main piece of advice I would give someone applying to State service jobs is to not be lazy. There are many positions in government that have to be filled and it is up to you as a candidate to make yourself noticed by the hiring managers. This means taking the time to write a specific Statement of Qualifications or rewriting an application specifically for a position you want. State positions are sought after by many people, so it is up to you to be sure that your application is chosen out of all the others for an interview. My mom used to tell me that getting a full-time job is a full-time job; this means that the time and energy you put in to applying for a job will only help your chances of getting one.

Also, if you are not currently in State service don’t be afraid to take a lower level position that you might think is below your pay scale. When it comes to working in public service, it’s about getting your foot in the door and proving you should have the position you want.

Final Thoughts?

Many positions for the State aren’t glamorous and don’t come with perks that you will find in the private sector. This shouldn’t persuade you to not want to acquire a public position, instead it should make you strive to get a position in public service that pays well and gives to you the satisfaction of helping others. At the end of the day, it will be up to you to make yourself a valuable candidate for the position you want.

For a while I wasn’t happy where I was within State Government and this led me to want more out of my career. I ended up applying Graduate School and I’m one semester away from completing my Masters in Public Administration. My hopes are that with this degree I will be able to achieve my career goals that I have set for myself.

Not everyone will take the route that I have taken. It is up to you to find best way to achieve your career goals within public service. Always strive to be your best self and you will be rewarded in the end.


Check out our other Paths to Public Service Profiles!

Interested in sharing your story? Let us know!

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Gloria Earl

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Gloria Earl

Name: Gloria Earl

Job Title: Regional Support Manager (Staff Services Manager I – Specialist)

Recommended Reading:
People Are Never the Problem – Dr. Robert Watts
We Do Not Make Widgets Ken Miller
Extreme Government Makeover – Ken Miller

Song stuck in your head right now:  “I Smile” by Kirk Franklin


What was your path into public service?

My path into public service began in 2001 with State Compensation Insurance Fund in Fresno, California. My initial title with the state was as a Workers Compensation Insurance Technician (WCIT). I became a Lead WCIT after my first year and received awards for streamlining processes and assisting workers so they could get back to work sooner than anticipated. Although I did not know that I was going into public service, I did know that as a mother of two at the time I was ready for an enhanced income. I also knew that I wanted to stay in an industry that will allow me to help people and I was willing to work hard to support my family. I realized early on the importance of remaining humble, being true to myself by being of service to others, being a lifelong learner, and having a mentor. 

In 2006, I had the opportunity to move my family to Chicago, Illinois where I worked as an Underwriting Assistant for Chubb Insurance and Zurich North America. It was my education, prior insurance experience and state service that helped me meet the qualifications needed to get these positions. Upon returning to California in 2008, I was blessed with the opportunity to get reinstated with the state as a Disability Insurance Program Representative with the Employment Development Department (EDD) in Fresno, California.

It was with EDD that I learned that there were multiple career paths I could follow within the state. I learned of promotional opportunities by volunteering with a non-profit organization very similar to NxtGov, and realized that it was simply a matter of putting forth the time and effort to reach my career goals. I returned to school part-time in late 2010 to obtain a second degree and graduated on May 17, 2013. I was blessed to receive a promotion to an Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA) with the EDD Veteran’s Unit and relocated to Sacramento, California in 2013.

From there, I accepted a position and transferred within EDD to become a Project Manager within the Workforce Services Branch. In 2016, I promoted to an EDD Regional Advisor (Staff Services Manager I -SSM I Specialist). To further enhance my Project Management and Technical Assistant experience, I accepted a position, and lateral transferred to the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB), which is where I work currently as their Regional Support Manager (SSM I – Specialist). 

I have remained in public service for the past 16 years because the state has many opportunities for lifetime learners that have the passion and drive to be of service to others. I remain in public service because I can stay true to passion, inspire and empower others by sharing knowledge, skills, while meeting great people and growing along the way. 

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now? 

Currently, as the Regional Support Manager with CWDB, I am blessed to work collaboratively with consultants and other technical assistance providers to provide workforce technical assistance to all 45 Local Workforce Development Boards throughout the state. I was fortunate to take lead on the Governors first workforce initiative that focused on regionalism after the passing of the 2014 Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). I also have had the opportunity to spearhead the development of innovative tools and resources to help transfer knowledge to regional staff, Executive Leadership and my fellow teammates. I enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with other state agencies to learn from one another, and partner to accomplish workforce system change goals. 

Right now, I work two additional jobs. To constantly remind myself of the importance of customer service, I am a part-time Ticket Taker with the Sacramento Kings. As a lifetime learner, I desired to learn more about the importance of organized labor and workforce laws, so my third job is as the Secretary/Treasurer of the International Alliance Theatrical Stage Employees union. Within the next few years, if not sooner, I aspire to continue enhancing my skills by promoting to a SSM II or SSM III with a state agency that is looking for innovative ways to enhance their business processes/procedures, customer service, succession planning efforts, grant/project management, and staff empowerment. Throughout my career, whether private or public, it has been imperative to work under or surround myself with true leaders and work alongside a team to accomplish goals. I desire to be in a position where I can share my knowledge, experience and passion to help others to help the organization succeed and accomplish their goals, mission, and fulfill its vision.  

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in state service? 

BE PATIENT, obtain a mentor/coach that may already be in state service, and understand it is a job trying to get a state job. 

I am not particularly a fan of the process to apply for a state job as a current employee of the state. I have heard nothing nice about the process from individuals desiring to work for the state. The process is way too time-consuming and can be very overwhelming to the average layman. The theory behind the application process seriously needs to be re-evaluated and streamlined in ways to find qualified individuals without taking up weeks of their time to apply for a job. It should be mandatory that hiring managers provide feedback to everyone who is provided an in-person interview. 

What was your strategy for applying to public service positions? In hindsight, would you change your approach?

I did not have a strategy when I applied for a position in public service. When I originally applied, I used the skills I learned in high school on how to properly complete an application and resume. The exam was taken at a physical location with an exam booklet and a scantron. It felt like I was taking the SATs.  The skills gained while in high school and through prior employment helped me get my foot in the door. I truly wish I had exposure to the career opportunities available in public service while I was in high school.  

My advice to anyone looking to begin their career in public service with the state is to be patient and humble. Let the reason you want to work in public service be your motivation. Gain access to mentors/coaches, particularly one that is in state service. Volunteer to gain skills, knowledge, and obtain the fundamentals needed to gain the position you want.  


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Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Alana Bui

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Alana Bui

Name: Alana Bui

Job Title: Statewide Adopt-A-School and Youth Mentorship Program Administrator

Recommended Reading: The Essentials of Success: 101 Quick Questions Every Leader Should Know by Dr. Joseph Morris. I encourage my colleagues, particularly young future leaders, to read this book and work through the self-assessment activities.

Song stuck in your head right now: I’m a mom of four – ages 12, 8, 6, and 3. Baby Shark (the original version and remix) is always stuck in my head!


What was your path into public service?

To be completely candid, six years ago, a public service career was not anywhere on my career trajectory. I was, in my mind, thriving in the private sector. I had an amazing role with a wonderful firm where I had the opportunity to build my legal knowledge and experience as well as lead several notable projects. As an added bonus, I was extremely fortunate to have leaders and colleagues who were supportive of my personal, professional, and educational goals. However, my story is similar to many of my colleagues; while I was excited about my work and proud of the organization and leaders that I represented, as well as the contributions I was making to the organization, I didn’t love it. It really hit me when my son, who was six at the time, was asked what his parents did for work. It saddened me to know that what I did for work did not inspire or excite him – his mommy just had a “job”.

This led to a period of self-reflection where I went back to the drawing board to paint that bigger picture of what I ultimately wanted to achieve; not just in my career, but in life. As a mom, I wanted to do something of which my children could be proud. Furthermore, as my family continued to grow, I knew that I needed stability, work/life balance, better medical coverage, and further down the line – retirement. Both my boss as well as my statistics professor at the time encouraged me to pursue a career with the State.

I could not be happier with my move into public service. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with amazing and inspirational people, work on impactful initiatives, and most importantly, be proud of and love the work that I do.

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now? 

I am currently the administrator of the Adopt-A-School and Youth Mentorship program with the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). These are programs that I am both personally and professionally invested in. I’ve spent the last couple of years outside of my professional work supporting local initiatives and helping to expand existing career exploration programs which provide youth with opportunities to explore various career opportunities through field trips, keynote speakers, contextualized curriculum, and a path to post-secondary education and employment. Now, I get to do this professionally statewide! It is quite an undertaking; however, it is incredibly fulfilling knowing the potential impact of these programs on our youth and future workforce.

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in public service? 

Be patient and persistent; the State hiring process is complex. It might be weeks or months before you hear back on an application, and weeks after an interview before you even hear back with a job offer (or if you hear back at all). Don’t give up – keep applying!

What resource/advice/practice did you find most helpful when applying for jobs in public service? 

Seek as much guidance as you can early on in your public service career exploration. The examination, application, and interview process can be arduous, confusing, and intimidating. I was fortunate to have the guidance and support of my statistics professor who was also a state employee at the time. Reach out to your network to hear about the experiences and advice of those who have already gone through the process. Once you’ve landed an interview, do your research on the organization, its leaders, the unit, and the project. Also, try to prepare a portfolio of your work product/accomplishments. I’ve found this to be helpful when discussing my prior experiences with specific tasks and systems. NxtGov is a wonderful resource to assist and support those looking to either enter into public service or looking to advance their state career.

Final Thoughts? 

Just BE KIND…in all aspects of life.

“…People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

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How can you mobilize across generations to transform public service?

How can you mobilize across generations to transform public service?

A beginning…

(1 of 3)  Four years ago NxtGov was an ambition. It was born out of a government improvement initiative and the need for a space for public servants to feel like they belong.

Over the years, I have seen several iterations of this movement. These iterations include a few name changes and failed experiments, but most importantly, they have included the names and faces of the people that have each contributed to the growth of NxtGov.

As the national political environment has questioned the role and efficacy of the public sector, we have been inspired and determined to uplift our public sector ethic and make permanent important spaces like NxtGov. Today, NxtGov is a reality that continues to grow, with the dedication of our members and brave leaders that step up when opportunity calls. 

Opportunity is calling:

We are recruiting leaders that will help us lead NxtGov through its next chapter- NxtGov as a non-profit!  

We are looking for leadership in the following open roles:

  • Board Position
  • Council Positions:

Timeline:

  • 10/11: Nominations Opened!
  • 11/4 @ lunch and 11/5 after work: info sessions!
  • 11/8: Nominations Closed
  • 11/19: Board Member Announced & Endorsements for Director Positions Close
  • 12/1:  Directors Announced

Process:

  1. Full description of the roles and timeline can be found here: http://bit.ly/NxtGovExecElectionPositions
  2. The Nomination form can be found here. (CLOSED) http://bit.ly/2019NxtGovNominations
  3. RSVP for Election Event: RSVP
  4. Meet the Candidates and Vote! 

READ ON… How did we get here? [2 of 3]; What is next? [3 of 3]

For any questions about the upcoming opportunities and changes, don’t hesitate to contact us at collaborate@nxtgov.org


Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Andrew Kehoe

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Andrew Kehoe

Andrew found his way into public service through political campaigns where he has been able to work with elected leaders on policy development, community engagement, and programming in several portfolios. 

Name: Andrew Kehoe

Job Title: Civic Engagement Liaison & Thousand Strong Program Manager, City of Sacramento

Recommended Reading: Wow, way too many books that I will just talk your ear off about. 

Non-Fiction: Anything by Hunter S. Thompson or Jon Krakauer, 

Fiction: Cormac McCarthy and Philip K Dick.

Song stuck in your head right now OR Song you wish you didn’t like: I always have the Teddybears remix of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees stuck in my head when I am walking around town. It may actually be a medical condition. 9/10, would recommend. 

What was your path into public service?

My path to public service was through political campaigns. I worked as an intern in political offices and then on various campaigns for issues and elected leaders. Political offices are by nature a little different than much of the public service positions out there. Working for them, I got to work with elected leaders on policy development, community engagement, and programming in several portfolios. 

Before I got into public service, I worked for a Fortune 500 company and the end result of all my work was really just a stock price. I enjoyed the people I worked with but never felt totally fulfilled by the goal of my job. I decided I would restart my career and became a 31-year-old intern in the legislature. 

I have stayed in public service for two big reasons: For one, I want to affect change in a positive way in the place where I grew up. At the City I am able to do that in a way that moves fast and has the latitude to try things that may only work in a unique place like Sacramento. I also enjoy the diversity of work. On any given day I could be working on a newsletter, typing a brief for the Mayor, hosting a stakeholder engagement session on a new program, and writing some policy recommendations. It never gets old. 

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now? 

My role in the Sacramento Mayor’s office is a bit of a swiss army knife type job. I do some program administration, some policy analysis, some communications and “other duties as assigned,” like planning community office hours or helping a constituent navigate our permitting department. 

Right now, I am very proud of the college savings account program I have been working on with my community partners at United Way. We are giving kindergarteners at select schools $25 in a Scholarshare account just for being enrolled in the school. Their parents can add money to this and we will match it up to a certain amount, and there are additional incentives for parents as well. We hope to ensure that, regardless of what a child does after they graduate, they have some money saved up for college, a technical certificate, or special vocational training.

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in state public service? 

Campaigns are hard work. It is some of the hardest work you will ever do. It is also one of the best ways to get connected to an elected official if that is the route you want to take in public service. You will work harder than you ever have in your life. When you win, it is the best feeling in the world. When you lose, it is soul crushing, but you learn a lot. Go join a campaign!!

Final Thoughts

There is no right way into public service. Find the job that really speaks to you and don’t be reluctant to apply for something that might stretch your skills and abilities in new ways.

Servant Leadership: Still Relevant in the 21st Century Workforce

Servant Leadership: Still Relevant in the 21st Century Workforce

Guide Civil Service Leadership Forward Using Servant Leadership

By Tonia Burgess, NxtGov’s Director of Professional Development

 

“The only test of leadership is that somebody follows” – Robert Greenleaf

Change is imminent in the government workforce. According to the 2018 Gallup poll 66 percent of employees in the United States are unhappy, and 13 percent of the remaining 34 percent are disengaged with their jobs.  Emerging leaders should consider conducting a self-examination of their personal “why” before taking a job that can negatively influence the work experience of others. 

As individuals prepare to lead, it is important they assess their intent and motive to lead others.  Ask yourself, who will you lead and how will you lead? The way you answer this question will shape organizational culture.

Traditional leaders lead from a hierarchical perspective that is top-down focused on the executive level, to middle managers, employees, and lastly customers.  Servant leaders take the opposite view.  A servant leader functions from an inverted triangle where customers are at the top, employees next, management, and lastly executive leadership. 

Servant leadership embodies an inverted triangle. A servant leader devotes himself/herself to serving the needs of others; focuses on meeting the needs of those they lead; develops others and brings out the best in them: coaches, mentors, and encourages others; facilitates growth; and builds a sense of community that engages individuals. All of these factors demonstrate the characteristics of a servant leader. 

Funnel Visual of Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf a landmark leader introduced the concept of servant leadership during the 20th century. The tenets of his work continue to lend themselves to the discipline of organizational leadership and development. Greenleaf identified three significant organizations he believed were appropriate to facilitate servant leadership and they were: churches, universities, and businesses. And yes, Greenleaf expressly considered government, as a large organization or business. Greenleaf stated, “all holders of power are suspect and all actions that stem from authority are subject to question. Who and how does it serve?” Moreover, he postulated “whoever will be great among you must be your servant.” 

Greenleaf’s, style of leadership may seem unorthodox to many, especially in government.  However, as government evolves in the 21st century with variations in technology and a diverse workforce, the next generations of civil service leaders would do well to explore and adapt key principles of servant leadership to guide government forward.   


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The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving

NxtGov and St. John’s Worked Together to Celebrate Children in the Program for Real Change by Hosting a Birthday Party

By Kelly Joy, NxtGov’s Community Engagement Marketing Chair

In April, NxtGov’s Community Engagement Team worked with members of Project Birthday to throw a joint birthday party for a dozen different children at St. John’s Program for Real Change. St. John’s provides a safe and welcoming environment for women and children who have experienced severe trauma such as domestic violence and homelessness. St. John’s hosts a community of these women and children, and the center provides housing and intensive support in a structured program that lasts between 12 and 18 months for each family. As part of these efforts, St. John’s has community birthday parties every month for all of the children with birthdays in that month. 

While preparing to host April’s birthday party at St. John’s, members of the Community Engagement Team planned out a theme, designed activities, collected party supplies and picked out gifts for each of the birthday kids. NxtGov members also reached out to their personal and professional networks and found additional donors who wanted to contribute presents for the children at the party. Mini profiles with the children’s names and interests were sent about each of the kids to the donors ahead of time. This helped the NxtGov members and community donors personalize the gifts for each child to make them feel as happy and well celebrated as possible for their birthdays.

I was so excited to see the profile of the little boy that I matched with and learn more about him. He was in elementary school and his interests included cars, fire trucks and Paw Patrol. I also noticed that his wish list also had a “light jacket” and for a moment my heart sank. My excitement reconciled with the gravity of the situation. I flashed back to the time I asked my mom about what to get a friend’s child. “Kids never ask for clothes for their birthday,” she said. I thought of my mom’s “rule” when I read the request for a jacket next to the list of possible kids’ toys I had expected. In that moment, I saw not only the wishes of a little boy on his birthday, but also a mother’s stress to provide for all the necessities of a growing boy in a challenging time.  I was reminded that although St. John’s has a wonderfully supportive program, being there is never a family’s “Plan A.” I don’t know what led to this particular family to go to St. John’s, but I also have to admit that I’m not sure that I can even imagine why. I am a mother to a toddler, and I can’t fathom how much stress I would be under not feeling like we had a stable permanent home to stay at night. Or a safe one. That is the reality of many of the women and children who go to St. John’s. And for the hundreds of others on their waiting list. I couldn’t solve whatever may have led the family to St. John’s, but I could do something to help make a birthday special for a little boy who might already be growing up way too fast. 

The day of the birthday party, the Community Engagement Team mobilized to put all of our brainstorming into action. Dozens of balloons were blown up and put on the wall, tables and floor. Volunteers filled up plastic eggs and a piñata with candy, and the presents were all collected and set up along with enough cupcakes for all of the birthday kids and all of the other kids in the community that attended the party – more than 50 in total! Each of the birthday kids had a special name tag to show that it was their birthday, and they looked so happy when they were personally greeted and wished a happy birthday by each of the volunteers. The party flew by with all of the fun activities. The biggest hits with the kids were the egg hunt and piñata. After the party games, everyone gathered in the main room inside to sing happy birthday over cupcakes and watch the birthday boys and girls open presents. An already happy day became a very special one for each of the birthday kids as they opened their presents and saw something from their wish lists. I watched a young boy open up the present I had picked out for him. He unwrapped the jacket first and immediately passed it to his mom. (I couldn’t help but think that my mom continued her streak of being right about everything.) He then opened the Paw Patrol police car and figurines, and I saw the reaction I hoped he would have when opening his birthday present. He then immediately shared the figurines with his younger sister so they could both play together. “Wow,” I reflected for a moment to myself. “Kindness begets kindness.”

Among all the activity, I noticed the kids weren’t the only ones smiling and laughing. I noticed many of the parents also seemed caught up in the fun of the moment seeing their kids so excited to be celebrated. I also looked around and saw all of the smiles on the faces on all of the faces of the volunteers. We all wanted this event to be special for the kids and their families, and it was emotional to see all of our planning and coordinating turn into not only a successful event, but also such a rewarding one for this wonderful group of women and children.


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DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial organization that is not connected to any one government entity.

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