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 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.
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.