Category: Gov Reflections

PATH TO PUBLIC SERVICE FEATURING ANDREW KEHOE

PATH TO PUBLIC SERVICE 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.

Spirit Animal: Probably a dog: I’m loyal, happy, and food motivated

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)

Spirit Animal: Fish

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 governmentjobs.com 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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Paths to Service Profile Featuring Maximilian Zepf

Paths 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

Spirit Animal: Giant Pacific Octopus

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 CalJOBS.ca.gov 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.

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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