Tag: public service

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!

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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!

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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.

The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving

NxtGov and St. John’s Worked Together to Celebrate Children in the Program for Real Change by Hosting a Birthday Party

By Kelly Joy, NxtGov’s Community Engagement Marketing Chair

In April, NxtGov’s Community Engagement Team worked with members of Project Birthday to throw a joint birthday party for a dozen different children at St. John’s Program for Real Change. St. John’s provides a safe and welcoming environment for women and children who have experienced severe trauma such as domestic violence and homelessness. St. John’s hosts a community of these women and children, and the center provides housing and intensive support in a structured program that lasts between 12 and 18 months for each family. As part of these efforts, St. John’s has community birthday parties every month for all of the children with birthdays in that month. 

While preparing to host April’s birthday party at St. John’s, members of the Community Engagement Team planned out a theme, designed activities, collected party supplies and picked out gifts for each of the birthday kids. NxtGov members also reached out to their personal and professional networks and found additional donors who wanted to contribute presents for the children at the party. Mini profiles with the children’s names and interests were sent about each of the kids to the donors ahead of time. This helped the NxtGov members and community donors personalize the gifts for each child to make them feel as happy and well celebrated as possible for their birthdays.

I was so excited to see the profile of the little boy that I matched with and learn more about him. He was in elementary school and his interests included cars, fire trucks and Paw Patrol. I also noticed that his wish list also had a “light jacket” and for a moment my heart sank. My excitement reconciled with the gravity of the situation. I flashed back to the time I asked my mom about what to get a friend’s child. “Kids never ask for clothes for their birthday,” she said. I thought of my mom’s “rule” when I read the request for a jacket next to the list of possible kids’ toys I had expected. In that moment, I saw not only the wishes of a little boy on his birthday, but also a mother’s stress to provide for all the necessities of a growing boy in a challenging time.  I was reminded that although St. John’s has a wonderfully supportive program, being there is never a family’s “Plan A.” I don’t know what led to this particular family to go to St. John’s, but I also have to admit that I’m not sure that I can even imagine why. I am a mother to a toddler, and I can’t fathom how much stress I would be under not feeling like we had a stable permanent home to stay at night. Or a safe one. That is the reality of many of the women and children who go to St. John’s. And for the hundreds of others on their waiting list. I couldn’t solve whatever may have led the family to St. John’s, but I could do something to help make a birthday special for a little boy who might already be growing up way too fast. 

The day of the birthday party, the Community Engagement Team mobilized to put all of our brainstorming into action. Dozens of balloons were blown up and put on the wall, tables and floor. Volunteers filled up plastic eggs and a piñata with candy, and the presents were all collected and set up along with enough cupcakes for all of the birthday kids and all of the other kids in the community that attended the party – more than 50 in total! Each of the birthday kids had a special name tag to show that it was their birthday, and they looked so happy when they were personally greeted and wished a happy birthday by each of the volunteers. The party flew by with all of the fun activities. The biggest hits with the kids were the egg hunt and piñata. After the party games, everyone gathered in the main room inside to sing happy birthday over cupcakes and watch the birthday boys and girls open presents. An already happy day became a very special one for each of the birthday kids as they opened their presents and saw something from their wish lists. I watched a young boy open up the present I had picked out for him. He unwrapped the jacket first and immediately passed it to his mom. (I couldn’t help but think that my mom continued her streak of being right about everything.) He then opened the Paw Patrol police car and figurines, and I saw the reaction I hoped he would have when opening his birthday present. He then immediately shared the figurines with his younger sister so they could both play together. “Wow,” I reflected for a moment to myself. “Kindness begets kindness.”

Among all the activity, I noticed the kids weren’t the only ones smiling and laughing. I noticed many of the parents also seemed caught up in the fun of the moment seeing their kids so excited to be celebrated. I also looked around and saw all of the smiles on the faces on all of the faces of the volunteers. We all wanted this event to be special for the kids and their families, and it was emotional to see all of our planning and coordinating turn into not only a successful event, but also such a rewarding one for this wonderful group of women and children.


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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 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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Building the Future Public Sector Workforce

Building the Future Public Sector Workforce

NxtGov and Innovative Pathways to Public Service invite you to help inspire students and young adults into public sector careers.

By Danielle Metzinger, NxtGov’s Deputy Director

Did you know more than 20% of all jobs in the six-county Sacramento region are in the public sector? That’s 1 out of every 5 jobs in our region! And with the public sector facing a wave of retirements at all levels, our region has an opportunity to bring in a new generation of skilled public servants.

NxtGov is proud to partner with Innovative Pathways to Public Service (IPPS) in their work to inspire young adults to consider public service and create accessible, inclusive pathways into public sector careers in the Sacramento region.

In support of IPPS, I’d like to invite our NxtGov community to learn more about their work and attend their upcoming leadership summit Building the Future Public Sector Workforce on August 29.

This free, half-day summit will bring together government leaders, educators, and nonprofit/industry partners to reflect on a region-wide study of public sector employment. This study includes the counties of Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Sutter, Yuba, and Yolo.

During the summit, participants will hear from speakers and panels on the opportunities to mitigate barriers and bring youth and young adults into public sector careers. All levels of government in the region will be represented at this event!

Learn more about the Summit and register today.

NxtGov’s partnership with IPPS has brought about dynamic projects like our Millennials in Public Service video series and ongoing consultation opportunities for our Public Recruitment Committee, and I know even more exciting work is on the horizon. I hope you’ll be part of the effort to build the future public sector workforce and lend your perspective to the workforce challenges government faces every day. Now is the time to come together and help build the future public workforce for our region and beyond.


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Safe and Open Playground Space

Safe and Open Playground Space

Adventure Playground, a space for all children to explore and learn through free play.

By: Araceli Mohseni, NxtGov Member

In early March of this year, NxtGov partnered with the Sacramento Adventure Playground, a free after-school youth development program for ages six to fifteen. Adventure Playground is unique in its conception and mission: to promote the imagination, creativity and education of children. The very first Adventure Playground was founded in Copenhagen, and was originally known as a junk playground, where urban children were able to build their own spaces and structures using real tools, raw materials, and cooperation. Much like its predecessor, Sacramento’s own Adventure Playground allows children the freedom to play indoors and outdoors with raw materials like tires, cardboard, planks and paint.

On a gloomy Saturday in early March, NxtGov volunteers gathered around Director Steve Claude for orientation before Adventure Playground’s operating hours. It had just rained and the skies were dark and dreary. As I stepped into Sacramento’s Adventure Playground, I was aware of the raw materials on the premises. Tires, wood, cardboard, buckets, fish tanks, couches and giant blocks seemed to be all around making the space feel cluttered. And yet, as the orientation progressed, Steve clearly defined the different stations of the playground. There was the crafting station where children would be encouraged to build their own robots with raw and recycled materials, and hot glue guns! The pet station was adjacent to the crafting station, and upon closer inspection, it hosted a variety of animals including fish and madagascar roaches. The children would be allowed to “pet” the roaches after earning enough currency by picking up pieces of trash. The bank was meant to teach children the power of currency and delayed gratification; the more you saved your currency, the more you could “afford” to buy select items or time with the popular madagascar roaches. There was also a clay station and a kaleidoscope crafting station. There were giant building blocks and recycled couches that had found a happy home at Adventure Playground. During the orientation, Steve mentioned that we were to supervise and assist the children interested working at the different stations. Yet, Steve was quick to point out that were also meant to encourage kids to play freely and if they choose to build a robot, they were absolutely allowed to use the hot glue guns.

As a new mother to a one-year old, I was a little on the edge. Were we to allow children to roam free, to play with raw materials that could be potentially dangerous? Yes! And I quickly understood why. After our volunteer session, I reflected on what I saw, happy children engaged in play with each other and with their surroundings. It had rained the day before and the children took full advantage of the mud pits outdoors. I saw children running, jumping off the building blocks and enjoying the slides. Children built their robots and crafted clay creations while others were fully invested in petting the roaches. Our natural tendency to explore, create and learn from play are innate to us, and children covet this style of discovery and education. It was difficult for me to reckon with a model of play so different from what I grew up in. Growing up in an immigrant family, my parents worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, which limited their free time. They did not have time to supervise my sister and I, and they were constantly worried about our safety. We lived in a cramped two-bedroom apartment on the worst part of town, where dumpsters overflowed, cars screeched through the streets on multiple occasions colliding with the brick wall at the end of the cul-de-sac, and where drugs were sold, purchased and consumed. Because of these circumstances, my parents prohibited us from playing outdoors. We were meant to walk directly home, shut the door behind us, and under no circumstances were we to open it. This meant endless weekday evenings indoors. What I would have given to have had an Adventure Playground in my neighborhood! To run, jump and explore the outdoors alongside other children. 

As a new mother to a little one, I am happy to know there is a place like Adventure Playground where supervision is secondary to exploration so that my little one can grow up unafraid and emboldened by the power of play. Currently, about 1,000 adventure playgrounds exist in Europe, largely in Denmark, Switzerland, France, German, the Netherlands and England. Japan has a number of Adventure playgrounds as well. This European model of an after school program encourages play as a way to develop the imagination, creativity and education of children. It provides the space for children to learn and grow and relies on volunteers like the members of NxtGov to provide adult supervision and help with cleanup and set-up. Perhaps more importantly, it provides children of all income levels with the open space they need to roam indoors and outdoors in a safe and engaging environment. 


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Path to Service Profile featuring Laura Carr

Path to Service Profile featuring Laura Carr

Name: Laura Carr

Job Title: Air Pollution Specialist

Recommended Reading: Walkable City by Jeff Speck

What was your path into public service?

Lots of my family have had careers in the public sector, so I grew up with public service in the back of my mind as an option that was not only viable but attractive, presenting an opportunity to help people and leverage the power of government for good. Two environmental studies classes in high school posed big, concerning questions about the state of the planet, and a B.A. in environmental policy provided both a framework to grapple with them and further confirmation for me that policy work in the public sector was the best pressure point to try to address them. I volunteered part-time at a Caltrans district office to get experience working for the State, and then committed fully to that millennial rite of passage, the unpaid internship, at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research in Sacramento. The internship evolved into a paid position, which I held for more than a year before opting to go back to school for a brief ten-month stint to earn an M.S. in economics. Four months after completing my Master’s, I got the job I’d been envisioning since college at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). I’m hoping for and planning on a full career in public service. The work is fulfilling, the colleagues are inspiring, and I’m excited to see what lies ahead.

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

At CARB, I’m part of the air quality planning staff, focusing on the San Joaquin Valley. The planning effort to clean the air and meet national air quality standards involves putting together usually quite lengthy documents laying out the strategy to cut emissions. Earlier this year, I helped write and compile a thousand-page plan for the Valley that had been in the works for well over two years—longer than I’ve been with the agency. Now that the plan is finished, we’re moving into the implementation phase, making sure everything is progressing as laid out in the plan. It’s a big task with lots of moving parts, but it’s a team effort, which makes it doable and rewarding.

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

Know that you might not hear back about a job you’ve applied for; sometimes that courtesy isn’t provided, but don’t let it get you down. Relatedly, be patient, be persistent, and don’t despair if you don’t get the first position, or even the first dozen positions, that you apply for. Applying for jobs with the state is at least partly a numbers game, and finding the right fit is liable to take time on the order of months rather than weeks.

What’s it like living and working in Sacramento?

Great! It lives up beautifully to its City of Trees designation, has an eminently walkable downtown (see recommended reading), and it’s invigorating to be surrounded by so many other people who’ve chosen a path of public service.


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

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