Category: Career

Paths to Public Service Featuring Nathalie Nguyen

Paths to Public Service Featuring Nathalie Nguyen

Name: Nathalie Nguyen
Job Title: Council Specialist, Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council
Recommended Reading: George Orwell’s 1987 or any book of the Harry Potter Series
Spirit Animal: Sea Otters
Song stuck in your head right now OR Song you wish you didn’t like: Baby Shark Doo- Doo

What was your path into public service?

When I graduated college, I had dreams of going to law school and working in a corporate firm. Before I made that journey, I ended up applying for a fellowship with a push from a mentor. The decision landed me in Sacramento interning at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. I was only supposed to stay in Sacramento for a year, but 4 years later I’ve made it my home.

During the fellowship I knew nothing about the State application process. I had a mentor who told me that I should apply because he knew the state needed young people to come in and create change. Innovation was highly sought after in the State, and the idea that I could receive a paycheck while making a difference was a highly motivating factor for me.  

After graduation, 35 applications, and 7 interviews I landed a job with the Department of Social Services as an analyst working on issues surrounding foster care. I had no idea what I stepped into because I had no experience with or knew anyone in foster care, but I did know that I was willing to learn and be a part of the conversation. I was most excited about the chance to provide input to policies that affected our youth.

When I was at Social Services, one of the projects that I am proudest of was a social media campaign working to recruit younger demographics to become caregivers, foster parents, and mentors to young adults and children in care. I spearheaded the project, working with a communications company to formulate a message that would resonate with an average person who never thought of themselves as being a caregiver, analyzed social media analytics, and managed various social platforms we used to insert and project our campaign messages. The project made me realize that the State was moving in the direction of innovation, social media, and technology.  

The biggest reason I have stayed in public service (besides the retirement) is the ability to help and advocate for those who otherwise cannot. This is the greatest privilege I feel has been given to me in public service, and I feel blessed everyday to be in this platform. I never take it for granted that this opportunity has landed on my lap.  

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

I currently work for the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council as the Council Specialist. The Council is comprised of 19 members and includes State agency representatives, stakeholder appointed members, and partners. I staff all 19 members and the 4 other Council staff. In this role, I plan and execute Council meetings, which happen quarterly and are open to the public. My responsibilities include logistics; coordinating with panels, staff, the public, presenters; and anything else that is needed to execute a successful Council meeting.

In between Council meetings, I work behind the scenes to ensure the Council’s work is continuing when it is not outward facing to the public. This involves working with the Council member’s key staff on day-to-day projects. Together we work to ensure that various state agencies representing the Council are meeting state mandates and have policies in place that are consistent with helping efforts to end homelessness.

The job is rewarding because I feel like I am making a difference in what feels like the State’s biggest problem currently. The crisis is never ending, but I am happy to be contributing to an important cause and conversation. Everyday is a challenge, but a good one.

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

Expect to be patient. The State unfortunately is slow when it comes to processing applications and can often take months. Some departments will process applications, schedule the interview and exam, but may not make their decision until weeks later. If you aren’t in a hurry to get a job with the State, the right fit will come with patience and time on your side.

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

I always encourage people that they should apply to jobs that interest them or have a passion for. Never apply for a job just to have a job. Life is more rewarding when your job doesn’t feel like a chore.

Take the time to look around the various state websites. Sometimes it’s just a simple google. Read about the work they are doing on their website. Does their mission align with yours? Do their values align with yours? Do they advocate for platforms that you truly believe in?

Once you take the time to research the department, visit their job recruitment page. More than likely they are hiring and if not, put it on your list and check back frequently.

If you can or know someone who works there – maybe take the time to schedule an informational interview to find out if the working environment is a good fit for you. Even if you don’t know anyone, don’t be afraid to ask during your interview what the working environment is like, what the team hat you will be working with is like, and what type of manager the person believes they are. Interviews and job applications aren’t just about finding a job, but also ensuring that both parties are the right fit for each other.

If you have resources outside of the web, use them. It’s a simple ask if anyone is hiring when you meet someone whose work aligns with yours. They can refer you to jobs or keep you in mind when they come up.

The very most important thing in looking for a public service job: PATIENCE. Be patient. The right job and right fit will come along when the time is right.


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How Can Government Embrace Innovation Without Fear?

How Can Government Embrace Innovation Without Fear?

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Government is risk-averse, and for good reason; but when risk-aversion paralyzes and disables progress and evolution, it’s time for government employees to seek out other options to design and deliver public services. Amidst the layers of bureaucracy, government employees often struggle to see how their work makes an impact. How can employees make the change they want to see in the world? The answer may lie in the evolving world of agile-methodologies and user-centered design.

What if public servants worked directly with the user of a government service in order to deliver immediate value? Passionate public servants could find an opportunity to test out ideas and make adjustments more quickly and effectively than through the traditional path of change in government.

The Challenge
NxtGov Ambassadors and the NxtGov Executive Team considered these issues and developed this challenge statement for fellow public servants:

Users First: Embracing Innovation without Fear

User expectations and our employees’ ability to deliver collaborative, innovative, holistically effective processes and services are dependent on having a flexible and trusting environment that allows us to be experimental and build upon innovative ideas without the fear of failure or repercussion.

How might we eliminate restrictive practices that impose an expectation of perfection and finality that exclude the end-user of the process or service? How might we change the current “traditional” practices that impede our workforce from being agile and adopting human-centered design practices in our daily work?

  • Do you want to cultivate your good ideas into solutions that give value?
  • Do you want to team innovative pathways to California’s most challenging enterprise problems?
  • Do you want to create a culture that can sustain, advance and accelerate services to society?

You Can Help Us Find the Answers

NxtGov is partnering with ORA Systems Inc., APSEA, GovOps and others in the California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA) Training program. The program will address this issue (and others) with help of this year’s cohort of Leaders, Innovators and Change Agents in government.

Are you a government employee interested in participating in the Cal-IPGCA Cohort 2018? One lucky NxtGov member will qualify for a scholarship to participate in this year’s program. Applications are due July 31st.

Feel free to reach out to our NxtGov leadership team or see here to learn more about the Cal-IPGCA program. The program takes place from August 9th- December 6th.

Apply Now

Learn More

July: Sun, Professional Development, and More!

July: Sun, Professional Development, and More!

Summer is here! And we are excited to share what’s new. ​

Have a fun and safe holiday!

 

Opportunities to Get Involved

 

Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents
Apply by July 20!
Scholarship Available

Cal-IPGCA Cohort 2018 is seeking state government employees who see themselves as Leaders, Innovators and Change Agents…is this you?

  • Do you want to cultivate your good ideas into solutions that give value?
  • Do you want to team innovative pathways to California’s most challenging enterprise problems?
  • Do you want to create a culture that can sustain, advance and accelerate services to society?

Consider registering for the California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA) 2018 Series. From August 9 – December 6, Cal-IPGCA provides a unique leadership training opportunity that includes an innovation laboratory. NxtGov is pleased to support this one of a kind opportunity. Our NxtGov Ambassadors developed one of the Innovation Priorities for the innovation trainees to work on during this Cal-IPGCA cohort so that the concerns of NxtGov members can be represented at this high profile program.

Want more information? Attend the Informational Workshop on July 12 from 11:30 – 12:30 at DGS. Register here for the informational workshop.

A scholarship will be available for one NxtGov member!
We are grateful to have Cal-IPGCA offer a scholarship to a NxtGov member! Simply indicate you are a member of NxtGov on the registration form and you’ll be considered for the scholarship. Application deadline is July 20. Register today! Cal-IPGCA Program Registration Form

NxtGov Ambassador Program – Now Accepting Applications!

 

As a platform of change in government, NxtGov is re-opening applications to the Ambassador Program to increase our community of rising stars from across California state government. These stars represent the next generation of leaders and are a resource to incoming and current civil servants that are looking to make a difference.

As a NxtGov Ambassador, you will be active in connecting public servants you know with all the opportunities NxtGov has to offer. In this role, you will represent your organization at inter-departmental roundtable discussions on issues, concerns, questions, and ideas to strengthen our workforce and better serve California.

Attend an Information Session to learn more or apply today. Applications will be accepted through July 22.

Can’t make it to an info session? Check out the ambassador program informational presentation here!

Monthly Happy Hour

Our last happy hour brought new faces and fresh dialogue around public service. Thanks to everybody who came out and we hope you enjoyed yourself as much as we did!

We are excited for what’s to come this month and we hope to see you all for Happy Hour on July 26!

Project Birthday Party was a Success!

 

Thanks to everyone for making our Project Birthday event on June 30 a big success! Through the support of countless NxtGov members, donors, and volunteers, we were able to host a birthday party at the Salvation Army Transitional Home. We had a blast and look forward to future collaboration with Project Birthday!

To help plan or participate in future community engagement events, please contact meagantokunaga@gmail.com about joining the Community Engagement Committee!

Next Week  – “Personal Budgeting and Finance 101, Made Fun” Lunchtime Workshop

 

When: Wednesday, 7/11, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM
Where: California Department of Social Services – Room 205 Auditorium OB9 or online via webinar
Cost: Free
Audience: Current civil service employees
Join Brian Diamond as he helps you reduce some stress in your life by teaching you how to get in control of your finances. 
  • Learn how to create a BUDGET and be in control of your finances
  • Understand where your MONEY goes, and why a budget is necessary
  • Discover things we do in our daily life that sabotages our FINANCES
  • Tips for you to decrease your monthly SPENDING and live beneath your means

Save the Date!  – “Managing Your Boss” Workshop

 

When: Wednesday, 8/1, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Where: The Urban Hive
Cost: $12 (includes refreshments)
Audience: Current civil service employees
Register Here

NxtGov and Upgrade Training are joining forces to provide a series of workshops that make careers in the civil sector easier, more effective, and ultimately more rewarding.

This first workshop is a combination educational and networking event where participants will form alliances and share experiences on working with demanding and difficult bosses.  Attendees will walk away with a task list of tangible actions they can take to improve their most important working relationship.

This two hour workshop will be presented by Bo Tyler who has trained over 3000 state employees and 700 state managers.

Space is limited so register as soon as possible! Registration is required to attend the event.

 

NxtGov has partnered with various organizations to administer Demystifying State Jobs or How to Get a State Job 101 workshops and speaking engagements to encourage civic-minded people and young adults to consider a career in public service. As these partnerships continue to grow, we hope to promote internship and mentorship opportunities. Contact us about the Recruitment Program for more information.
8 WAYS to ADD VALUE to PUBLIC SERVICE and STAY INSPIRED

8 WAYS to ADD VALUE to PUBLIC SERVICE and STAY INSPIRED

Authors: Isabella Blasi and Angelica Quirarte 

Public service is a humble profession that impacts the lives of millions and intersects all industries. The concept of being a “state worker” has a negative connotation that is not reflective of the amazing work that civil servants do every day. The bureaucracy of our government sometimes prevent us from being the most effective in our daily work and service delivery and social impact seem slow. However, the people behind the scenes are part of something greater, even when they don’t know it.

As public servants we have the power to change the world, if we can break our silos, build connections and embrace our mission to serve the public.  Below are eight actions that we as public servants can do to collaborate, serve and inspire: 

1. Listen

Serving the public means serving individuals, families and communities. Be active in learning about the people you serve. Listen to what are their needs, challenges, strengths and values. Engage with clients when appropriate, keep up with community news, be an advocate for your public and serve as the link between the public and the big bureaucracy.

2. Be a program expert

As a public servant you have the power to use your skills and knowledge to help make Californians’ lives better. The public depends on you to apply your skills into programs that affects millions of lives. Being an expert in your field shows that you play an essential role in ensuring that people are being served. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to use your knowledge!

3. Know the little things matter

Seemingly mundane tasks can go a long way, especially when interacting with the public. Something as simple as redirecting a phone call to the right department can mean helping put food on a family’s table. Simply listening to a client’s backstory can help him or her feel confident that they are heard and matter to the government.

4. Be a connector

We depend on relationships and collaboration to truly drive effective change. It is through the shared opportunities and resources that we can help bring others along when working on complex issues. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of information we do not know within the bureaucracies of government. Playing an active role in connecting people to resources when you find those opportunities will create synergy in our work.

5. Be nice to yourself

While your work is invaluable, it is not your sole responsibility to save the world each and every day. Know your sphere of influence, constantly work towards expanding it and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t solve climate change in one day. Instead, collaborate with your fellow public servants and keep trying.

6. Be solution-oriented

Don’t be discouraged by the “big bad bureaucracy” or the seemingly insurmountable public issues we are responsible for solving. Be creative when thinking of ways to address the issues that arise.

7. Be a mentor

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are. What are lessons learned that would inspire our workforce? Know of someone close to you that has potential? Most of us have been able to find opportunities with the support of mentors. Find the opportunity to mentor someone and give back. Our experiences serve as lessons learned for others.

8. Give back to your community

If you are looking to collaborate, to serve, and to inspire others, join us. NxtGov is here to stay, because our work is never done and we always need peers and partners to effect change.

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

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