Category: Gov Reflections

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!

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.  

Check out our other Paths to Public Service Profiles!

Interested in sharing your story? Let us know!

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.

Civil Service in Five Years

Civil Service in Five Years

Civil Service Promotional Opportunities Expected to See Increases in Near Future.

By Lusine Sarkisyan, NxtGov Ambassador

The CalHR’s Statewide Workforce Planning and Recruitment Unit annually analyzes state workforce demographic data and has come to the conclusion that based on December 2018 data, approximately 47 percent of managers and supervisors of state civil service are ready to retire in the next five years. 

Civil Service Permanent Managers and Supervisors Chart

CalHR Statewide Workforce Planning and Recruitment Unit, December 2018 Data 

What does this mean for rank-and-file employees? That in the next five years, there is opportunity for promotions and development, potentially if all 47 percent retire in the next five years there will be 15,371 vacancies at the manager/supervisor level within the State of California. 

Additionally, based on data from December 2018, approximately 36 percent of rank-and-file employees will be ready for retirement in the next five years. Which means that there will be 62,658 potential vacancies. These vacancies would allow rank-and-file employees to promote up, but it would also open opportunities for individuals to enter civil service.

Civil Service Permanent Rank-and-File Chart

CalHR Statewide Workforce Planning and Recruitment Unit, December 2018 Data 

With all these potential vacancies in the next five years, there is going to be more desire by rank-and-file staff to pursue avenues for gaining knowledge of programs, professional development, counseling by upper management which will ultimately lead to various forms of mentorship. In fact, CalHR has recognized this need and has issued a policy for state entities to take a proactive and strategic approach to recruiting, developing, and retraining a skilled and diverse workforce to meet current and future organizational needs. As of August 2018, there are 34 state entities who have developed some sort of succession plan to address future organizational needs. Departments similar to CalPERS, Department of Consumer Affairs, CalSTRS, and others have some form of mentorship program to help develop their staff. 

It is important to identify that mentorship is not just about getting promoted and developing one’s career, but mentorship is a great tool that results in improved relationships with colleagues, increased motivation, and most importantly improved job satisfaction.

Additionally, with these vacancies whether rank-and-file level or manager and supervisor levels, individuals seeking to enter civil service will be looking towards programs and workshops to provide tools and information in applying and entering civil service. This means, NxtGov is going to be very busy in the next five years reaching out and engaging with the local communities and partnering with various entities to help increase the workforce. Are you ready to give a helping hand?

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Path to Public Service Featuring Megan Miller

Path to Public Service Featuring Megan Miller

Megan Miller has been able to find meaning in public service as a Grants Manager, where she will be in charge of issuing awards to grantees and program oversight from the grants management perspective for the Emergency Solutions Grants Program and the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program.

Name: Megan M. Miller

Job Title: Grants Manager (SSMI), Division of Financial Services, CA Department of Housing & Community Development

Recommended Reading: 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (not necessarily to literally strive towards a 4 hour workweek but for the efficiencies & lifestyle balance it promotes)

What was your path into public service?

After almost ten years of corporate work in the private sector and on the outside having a “successful” career, my work often left me personally unfulfilled. I wanted to do work that mattered to the community around me to be able to have a greater impact in the Sacramento community that has become so dear to me and in my broader home state of California.

When brainstorming career opportunities that would be most meaningful to me, I immediately thought of the homeless population and the need for affordable housing for all Californians. From both angles – for the purpose of providing every human being in the Sacramento community with a place to sleep and for the purpose of providing safe, clean communities for all residents – the issues that we’re trying to solve truly resonate with me. I am excited to see the increased focus and spending on providing homeless assistance and affordable housing and I am honored to now be a part of the solution in Grants Management.

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

I just started in my position this past week and will be in charge of issuing awards to grantees and program oversight from the grants management perspective for the Emergency Solutions Grants Program and the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program.

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

Have patience and plan to spend 2-4 months or more in the application process from your first application to your start date in your new state position. There is a lot of hiring going on right now, especially within my department, which is great, but that also means the HR teams have a lot on their plates and the process from application through interview and hiring can take some time. Also, take as many exams as you’re qualified for and apply to a couple of positions a day until you land your job.

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

The email notifications feature in the job posting sites, especially CalCareers and were great in notifying me as soon as a position that fit my search criteria. Also I found it invaluable to connect with the people currently working in public service, especially via LinkedIn, NxtGov and those working at CalHR to learn about their career path – both from the perspective of learning about individual positions and about how those individuals obtained their current positions in state service. Everyone I had a chance to speak with was incredibly open to sharing their experiences. 

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

Luckily, early on I got the advice to apply to lots and lots of positions and to expect maybe one interview per ten applications, so my approach was to find and apply to as many positions as I was interested and qualified for which really helped me set my expectations accordingly. The one thing I would have changed was to confirm and ask for an above minimum starting salary prior to accepting.

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Path to Service Profile Featuring Maximilian Zepf

Path to Service Profile Featuring Maximilian Zepf

Maximilian is a Staff Services Analyst at the Employment Development Department who has found meaning and fulfillment in his work within the Workforce Services Branch.

Name:  Maximilian Zepf

Job Title: Staff Services Analyst

Recommended Reading: Why Elephants Have Big Ears by Chris Lavers

Song in my head right now: Man On the Moon by R.E.M.

What was your path into public service?

A four-year political science academy called CIVITAS was what set me on the path to public service. It may sound strange, but I have always enjoyed the nitty-gritty side of politics – the how of government. The administration of laws and enforcement of regulations seemed to me like the most interesting side of politics; where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. In college, I gained a deeper understanding of the theories of public administration, eventually graduating with a bachelor’s degree and a hankering for real-world experience. I wanted to work for the government, so I moved to a government town, Sacramento, which also happened to be my home town. A neighbor suggested that I try applying for a Staff Services Analyst position at various state agencies. A few months later, I got an interview at the EDD, and after a few months I can confidently say that it was exactly what I was looking for.

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

From the get-go, the EDD prepared me for public service by training me and fellow new employees on the major policies that we deal with every day. This training helped me appreciate the vast scope of the EDD’s responsibilities. I work in the Workforce Services Branch, helping administer EDD programs that help people find work. Programs are administered by field offices, which enter data into the website. Our job is to ensure that this data is accurate, which is important because your tax dollars (and mine) help pay for these programs. Data integrity is a huge responsibility, and it makes my work all the more fulfilling. If we do not do our jobs, funding could be reduced and real people could lose economic opportunities to better their lives. There are days where the complexity of data validation makes me want to stare at a blank wall for hours, but I have always left work knowing that good work was done that day.

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

There is no sugar-coating the state application process: it is as cold and unfeeling as the deep, dark vacuum of space. You will apply to many, many jobs, with nary an email reply. It may feel like you are going nowhere, but the more applications you do, the more likely someone will notice you. It’s a numbers game, pure and simple. Also, try to illustrate your skills as a problem-solver during an interview. I found this generated good feedback in multiple state job interviews.

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

Write down one thing you learned from your interview. Don’t view rocky interviews as failures, because it isn’t the end of the road. Each interview will allow you to adjust your answers and how you carry yourself.

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

As I stated earlier, the more applications you complete, the more likely you will find a way into state service. Come up with a weekly goal, and try to stick to it. Daily goals can lead to early burnout.

Final Thoughts

State work is not just about the benefits. The stereotypes come up as soon as you say you are in state service, but being in the state is worth the winks and elbows. I work with a team who cares about making people’s lives better. If you land a job where that is the case, it matters little what other people say. At the end of the day, it’s you who wakes up to go to work every morning.

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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

California Admission Day

California Admission Day

On January 13, 1847, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed to end the fighting of the Mexican-American War in California. The agreement led to California being under military control the following years. Subsequently, the state grew rapidly in 1848 with the discovery of gold along the American River near Sacramento. The rush of newcomers increased the population of California causing demand for a more represented government. This would lead to the first state constitution draft in 1849. Soon in accordance to the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted into the United States as a free state on September 9, 1850 (directly becoming the 31st state and never requiring it to spend a period of time as a territory).

September 9th, also known as Admission Day, used to be a celebrated day of importance for all Californians. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a measure in 1976 that would have removed Admission Day as a state holiday. However, in 1984 Governor George Deukmejian signed legislation discontinuing the observance of Admission Day.

Still, today we remember Admission Day and the value it brings to California and all its residents. We celebrate our state’s rich history built by its people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Individuals here in search of economic, social, and educational opportunities to create a better quality of life. We recognize how California continues to be a powerhouse and leader not only nationally, but also in the global community.

So tonight when you are out celebrating with friends and family remember to toast one to California. Remember that our state motto is Eureka meaning “I have found it”. Remember that these words refer to the discovery of gold in California. Remember that California is gold. Remember that we all seek happiness and freedom to live our lives to the fullest. Remember our beautiful state with its many opportunities. Remember if you are looking for a reason to celebrate, Eureka! Here’s to you California!

9 facts on 9/9 in honor of California’s Admission Day

1. Like Fine Wine: California is the largest grape and wine producing state in the United States. Over 99% of grapes commercially grown in the United States come from California. Remember to toast a glass of wine tonight, which most likely came from California.

2. Supply and Demand: California is the first state to ever become a trillion dollar economy. The state has the sixth largest economy in the world!

3. Half/Half: If you were to cut California in half along Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles (from the Pacific Ocean to the Arizona border), half of the state’s 40 million population would fall below Wilshire and the other half above it.

4. Californians Everywhere: California is the most populous state with approximately 40 million people. This equals to about one out of every eight individuals in the country being from California. California has four of the top 15 most populous cities in the United States. These cities include Los Angeles (2nd), San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), and San Francisco (13th).

5. Grizzly State: The state was originally known as the Grizzly Bear State. As growth continued and the bear population went extinct, California became known as the Golden State.

6. The Highs and Lows: The highest point in California is Mt Whitney (elevation of 14,505 feet) and the lowest point in California is Death Valley (282 feet below sea level). These two locations are only 109 miles apart from each other!

7. Natural Beauty: The world’s tallest tree is Hyperion, a coast redwood standing 379 feet, at the Redwood National Park in California. The exact location of the tree is kept a secret to protect the 800-year-old landmark.

8. NorCal and SoCal: There is a palm tree and pine tree planted together along Highway 99 (State Route 99) in the San Joaquin Valley. These two trees serve as an indicator at the midpoint of California. The pine tree represents Northern California’s beautiful landscape and the palm tree represents the gorgeous sunshine of Southern California.

9. The Jock: California has twenty major professional sports league franchises. This is far more than any other state. It has also been the only state in the country to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. In 2028 California will once again host the Summer Olympics which will take place in Los Angeles.



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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