#ELGLInspire is coming to University of Houston on October 30th! Learn more about our event speakers in these brief profiles, and connect with them before and after the event! To find information about all of the speakers, visit the #ELGLInspire homepage.
Capital Projects Analyst, Harris County Budget Management Department
What was the very first paying job you held (that you paid taxes on)?
First job related to Public Admin was as a Senior Management Intern for Leon County, FL.
What was your: undergraduate institution? Graduate institution? What was/were your degree(s) in?
Bachelor of Arts (Urban and Regional Planning), University of Kentucky
Master of Science in Planning, Florida State University
Master of Public Administration, Florida State University
What class(es) (if any) are applicable to your job today?
Some of the best classes to take to learn about local government policy, especially infrastructure, are in urban planning. On the public admin side, I’ve found a lot of use from my budget and statistics classes. Any class where you have to write, short, concise memos is helpful to you.
What book are you currently reading? Would you recommend it?
The Leadership Challenge (Kouznes & Posner). This is a re-read for me and I recommend to anyone interested in leadership.
What’s the best networking advice for job seekers you’ve heard or shared?
- For introverts like me, networking is incredibly draining. The strategy I’ve found to work is to set a goal of how many new people I want to meet (usually about five) and ask each of these folks at least three open-ended questions beyond the typical ‘what do you do?’. If I’ve learned at least three interesting things about that person from my questions, and I’m starting to feel drained, I’ll politely excuse myself to go get a drink, bathroom, whatever. Rinse and repeat.
- I’ve found it easier to make a connection by being interested in people rather than trying to appear to be an interesting person. Talk to them about something not related to the event you’re at, such as learning more about why this person went into public service. The goal here is to have a genuine conversation rather than re-hashing the same topics everyone else is talking about.
- Don’t treat a networking session as an elevator pitch on why someone needs to hire you. You’ll be taken more seriously if you have asking to get to know the person rather than asking for a job. After the networking session (where you made a meaningful impression instead of just pitching yourself), send a note to the person thanking them for the conversation and attach your resume, asking them to keep you in mind for future opportunities. Bonus points if you reference in the email something unique in the conversation that you discussed that probably wasn’t discussed with others (i.e. your shared experiences of camping in Big Bend).
What’s the fastest way to NOT get a job or internship with you? (e.g. what should potential applicants avoid doing if they were to ever interview with you for a position).
- Remember to be courteous to everyone you meet during the interview process. I’ve had a number of applicants that interviewed well, but I declined them a job offer because I found out that they acted arrogantly towards the receptionist.
- Do some research on the job you’re applying for. You would be surprised at how many times I’ve asked an applicant a question related to something in the job description and gotten a blank stare. If you really want to make an impression, do a google news search about the organization you’re applying to and work something from there into the interview discussion. For instance, anyone applying for a budget/management job in local government should ask the interviewers how that organization is responding to the new property tax caps.
Why should an undergraduate student consider a career working in local government?
If you’re going to work in government, local government is the best place to be. Local governments are the governments closest to the people, so this is where you’ll be able to make the most impact on your community. This is also the level of government where people have the highest opinion of government; they can see the positive impacts we make, whereas state and federal governments are more associated with being big bureaucracies that ‘waste taxpayer dollars’. Local governments are smaller than state and federal government organizations, meaning less bureaucracy and red-tape to navigate and you personally can implement change across your organization. For someone that wants to do meaningful work that makes a difference, I would suggest local government as a career path.
Do you have a work or life motto? What is it?
Everyone complains; be one of the few with the initiative and work ethic to do something about it.