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.
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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