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wash park volleyballWith kickball ending, many have expressed interest in volleyball while the weather’s still nice. So we are announcing Volleyball in the Park! If there’s as much interest as indicated we’ll get a league going; if not we’ll do it just for fun.

RSVP NOW Fun or League!

Thursdays starting 9/8 @ 5:00

Washington Park Denver, CO 80209

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YGL Night at the Ball Game: Rockies/Cardinals!

Coors Field

RSVP NOW for a free beer!

 Tuesday September 20 @ 6:40

 Happy Hour @ 5:00 before the game

Retro Room 2034 Larimer St Denver, CO 80205

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Colorado Federal Executive Board

Please check out the Colorado Federal Executive Board

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Make Networking Work for You: Tips on Becoming a Networking Superstar

Photo via Pixabay

Photo via Pixabay

Want to expand your network, but find networking events extremely awkward? You’re not alone! The good news is that there are plenty of other ways to widen your list of professional contacts so you can make the most out of these precious connections. Here are some tips on how to make networking work for you.

Networking isn’t limited to face to face encounters. The rise of social media platforms made connecting with each other easier than ever before so you don’t even have to leave your seat to make new acquaintances. If you’re still getting the courage to mix and mingle, why not try these two options first.

  1. Start with who you know. At some point in your career, you’ve heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.” Family and friends are great sources when it comes to making new connections. Not only will introductions be less awkward, they are more likely to sing your praises than someone you just met. Their recommendations also bring more credence. So figure out what you want your career to be and ensure that those closest to you are aware of your goals and interests. You never know who your friends and family might come across in their day to day lives.
  1. Use LinkedIn to its full potential. Follow organizations and publications you’re interested in and you may just come across a job announcement that’s of interest or find people you never even thought of reaching out to. LinkedIn is also a great place to showcase your accomplishments and your CV.

After Making the Connections

Follow up. Once you’ve made the connections with people you want to talk to, set up a meeting with them. In person meetings are best when possible but conversations over the phone or video chat can also work when in person is not feasible. Use tools like WebEx or Skype if you can’t do one on one meetings.

Be prepared. Write down plenty of questions to ask so you won’t blank out at any point during the conversation. Prioritize them to ensure that you ask the most important questions first. You want to give yourself the opportunity to get as much information as you can in the short time you have in case the person you are meeting with only has a short amount of time to talk. During the meeting, make sure you ask who else you should reach out to. This crucial question will keep your networking moving forward. Every connection you make is an asset.

After the meeting make sure to follow-up with the person and thank them for their time. Also politely remind them of any introductions they said they would make for you. If you are on the job market, don’t be discouraged if none of the people you meet with have any open positions at their offices. The key takeaway is that you make yourself relevant so that in the event that they do come across a position they think you might be interested in, you’d be the first person they’ll call.

Blog EmblemNetworking is never easy but once you’ve had multiple opportunities through known acquaintances, you’ll have enough confidence to attend actual networking events! Start off with events where you know the sponsors. An example will be through your job, school or local YGL chapter. Familiar faces can help you make introductions and will provide plenty of opportunities to start conversations.

So I challenge you to give these ideas a try and find three people to reach out to this month. Ask them if they would be willing to talk with you briefly about their work. Chances are at least one of them will say yes!

This article was written by Sofi Martinez.

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Who Needs Sleep?

Sleep. We all know we need it. We all try to get enough of it. But according to Arianna Huffington’s latest book, The Sleep Revolution, most of us are not getting nearly enough of it. And even when we do get enough, the quality of our sleep is poor, leading to chronic exhaustion, unhappiness and lost productivity.

When we are tired, our entire day can feel like a long slog to quitting time, rather than a sprint to excellence. This mentality often means we do not bring our “A” game to work. Completing tasks is harder. Talking to coworkers is harder. Thinking is harder. While stimulants like caffeine can help overcome some level of exhaustion, they cannot replace that fresh-eyed feeling that a good night’s rest brings. Ms. Huffington argues that $63 billion is lost each year in the U.S. economy due to sleep deprivation, which works out to somewhere around $2,280 per worker. This is a sobering statistic. While some of this loss is due to absenteeism, much of it is simply lost productivity because we are too tired to work at the level at which we are capable.

Ms. Huffington is a staunch advocate for dealing with this problem, not only to correct this large economic loss, but also to help each of us perform – and feel – better every single day. I know I am a better employee, wife, friend, and family member, and I am a happier person, when I am well rested. Further, my day feels energizing instead of just draining and difficult. Also, I feel like I can perform my daily functions to the absolute best of my ability and, therefore, be the best government leader in my professional pursuits.

Girl Sleeping via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Girl Sleeping via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Knowing sleep is extremely important to our well-being, how do you go about getting more and better quality sleep? I used to be one of those constantly sleep deprived people, but I changed my habits and generally get at least 8 hours of sleep a night (and often times 9 hours, which is what I really need). Here are some practical solutions that have helped me prioritize and best utilize those 7-9 hours a night:

  1. First and foremost, figure out how much sleep you really need. Ms. Huffington addresses this extensively in her book. She suggests that you allow yourself to go to sleep as long as you need to wake up naturally to determine your total sleep need. From a practical perspective, think about times where you have had nowhere to be in the morning, maybe when you were on vacation. How many hours did you sleep? You could also try this technique out on a weekend, allowing yourself to wake without an alarm clock. Knowing where in the 7-9 hour spectrum you fit is key to understanding the scope of the sleep-deprivation problem you are dealing with.
  2. Make sure your bedroom is ready. Before addressing quality issues, make sure your bedroom is a pleasant, comfy place to sleep. Experts suggest keeping your bedroom cool, between 65 and 68 degrees, so be sure to adjust your thermostat. Block out ambient noise with earplugs or a sound machine (I have used a sound machine for years, and it works wonders). Kick your devices out of your bedroom (more on that below). Put up room darkening curtains or use an eye mask to keep the room dark. Buy comfy bedding and a good mattress. By preparing your room for its main purpose, you are halfway to successful rest.
  3. Prepare for bedtime just like you would for a meeting by creating an evening ritual. Creating a set of activities that you do every night, with limited exceptions, tells your brain it is time to settle in and prepare to sleep. Some people use a nightly hygiene ritual, a ritual to close up the house, or a ritual to prep for the morning. Others read in bed for a certain length of time or spend time debriefing the day with a significant other. Whatever your sleep prep plan, make sure you stick to it as much as possible to help your brain prepare for bedtime each night.
  4. Turn off your electronic devices and leave them outside of your bedroom. Experts suggest turning off electronic devices 30 to 60 minutes before you plan to fall asleep to allow your brain to wind down appropriately. While it is tempting to check that one last email before you fall asleep, or to check social media first thing in the morning, avoiding this will improve the quality of your sleep. If you currently use your phone as an alarm clock, go out and buy a simple alarm clock to use instead. I find that by leaving my charger in another room of the house, I am not even tempted to bring my phone to bed with me. While it may be hard to adhere to these rules at first, it will become natural, and even necessary, over time.
  5. Schedule your sleep. Just like anything else important in your life, schedule time for sleeping. If you have to start your day earlier than usual, protect the night before on your calendar to be sure you can go to bed at the appropriate time to get your necessary hours of shut eye. It may be helpful for you to have a daily calendar reminder or set an alarm to remind you it is time to wind down for the evening. There are online sleep calculators and apps to help you determine a bedtime based on when you need to wake up; use one to make sure you are in bed at the appropriate time. Whatever your methodology, scheduling your rest means you will almost always get it.
  6. Seek professional help when necessary. There are a number of sleep disorders for which it is necessary to seek help. Sleep apnea, chronic insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and other conditions can make it nearly Blog Emblemimpossible to get a good night’s rest despite extensive planning. If you think you have any of these conditions, see a doctor A.S.A.P. Your health is too important to put off seeking treatment.

Working to improve the length of time you sleep as well as the quality of your sleep will positively impact your life and is worth the investment. Sweet dreams!

This article was written by Elizabeth Fischer Laurie.

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An Insight on the Thoughts of Millennials in Federal Government

Millennials have plenty to say about the federal government. Some of them are good, some of them, less so. The results of the joint Young Government Leaders (YGL) and Federal News Radio survey on their perspective on recruitment and retention provide a handful of takeaways.

NOTE: There were 994 total participants overall, with the majority (69%) of them between the ages of 25-34 years old. Of those that were surveyed, we can say with moderate certainty that around two thirds of them were YGL members.

Motivations and Driving Factors: Duty, Stability and Career Growth

When asked what were the main reasons that drove them to join the federal government, about 27% said it was because of civic duty, followed by pay and benefits and lastly, serving the agency’s mission. When asked what factors however, will influence their decision to stay and build a career in the federal government, the majority answered “job satisfaction.”

Factors for Leaving Government

Factors for Leaving Government

One of the federal government’s greatest recruiting assets is stability, which is likely why so many Millennials who grew up experiencing economic uncertainty opt for a government career. There’s also a wide variety of jobs available at every part of the globe, great benefits, and competitive pay; but despite these well-known advantages of having a job in government, an overwhelming number of them will still consider leaving if they feel that there aren’t enough opportunities to grow their careers.

The federal government needs to do a better job of ensuring that younger people know about all the professional development programs available within each agency and that opportunities for growth are available at each career level. Establish employee resource groups dedicated to emerging leaders within each agency or partner with organizations like Young Government Leaders to help develop the future generation of civil servants.

Time is of the Essence

Timeline for Leaving

Timeline for Leaving

There is a Millennial talent gap crisis but the good news is that they remain optimistic about their career in the federal government. Their continued desire to serve the public is the key motivating factor for wanting to stay but the bad news is that they aren’t willing to wait years for changes to occur.

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion

One of the biggest gaps lies in recruitment and retention. When asked whether the federal government is doing enough to recruit young talent, over half of the respondents including older participants, disagreed. The federal government needs to recognize that their current hiring process is broken and that immediate changes are necessary in order to compete with the private sector. Also, it has to learn to embrace the shifts in culture and technology in order to retain the more liberal and technology-savvy Millennials.

Misconception Rates

Misconception Rates

Note too that almost two thirds of participants 35 and under responded “yes” when asked whether they were perceived differently because of their age, indicating that the federal government still has a long way to go when it comes to understanding generational differences. To improve the generation gap, senior leadership ought to be champions of diversity and inclusion, focusing more on what the younger generation of government employees can bring to the table rather than casting assumptions and stereotypes. All agencies should aim to become the type of workplace that embraces diversity and prides itself in equal opportunity.

The results of this survey led to some crucial insights about Millennials in the federal government. It revealed the reasons why Millennials pursue a career in the federal government and the key factors to get them to stay. It also pointed out areas of opportunities in recruitment and retention that managers and supervisors can improve upon. Finally, it revealed that there is indeed a pervasive generational gap that’s negatively affecting the culture within the federal government.

This article was written by Joseph Maltby with contributions from Iris Alon.Blog Emblem

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Fathers Working in Government

Christopher Reading to His Young Kids

Christopher Reading to His Young Kids

Father’s Day is this month and we thought it would be a good time to hear from an inspired dad who raised one of this generation’s future young leaders. We also wanted to learn about his perspective on his children’s careers and on public service generally. Here are some of the excerpts from our conversation.

When asked, what do you say your child does?

Tom Walsh: “I have two daughters who work in federal office. One is at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in the General Counsel’s Office. My other daughter is a business systems analyst at HHS. I know that she works on process improvement. You’d think that having worked for the federal government myself would help me understand their jobs. My older daughter I understand because she’s also an attorney, but my younger daughter’s work? Not really.”

Why is the work they do important?

Tom: “The answer to that question is so personal. I do think that careers in public service are worth aspiring to, though that term is also so varied. The federal government is so large, so you see a great degree of difference of job satisfaction. I think it’s more what the individual gets out of it. I know my daughters feel a sense of responsibility to the public and like they’re serving them. When I was working as a federal lawyer, I always felt like I was providing a service. When I was in law school, I was influenced by an individual who had worked in public service themselves. I think it takes a long time sometimes to know what your strengths and interests might be and who you know can really make an impact. Sometimes it’s just an individual or two who see something in you.”

What did they want to be when they grew up?

Tom: “When they were young, they were exploring their life and the world. I didn’t have any sense that they were dedicated to a future profession. I don’t recall my wife and I talking with them much about careers.”

Do they like their job? Why?

Tom: “We talk about their work regularly, just in casual conversation, and I think both of them enjoy their jobs quite a bit. I think they need interesting work and that the type of folks they work with are important. You can be in a field you like in a vacuum, but your job satisfaction can rise or fall based on who your supervisor happens to be or what the policies are in the office. You spend so much time with your colleagues.” 

Has their work changed how you feel about government?

Tom: “My time in the government is just one perspective, and I’m not sure how helpful it is, because government is so huge. Your experience in one area of the government can be so different than another. The area I worked in was so different than where they worked, so it’s more useful in the general sense. I was very happy and I think they’re happy, so it’s become a joke in the family that my wife is the only one who isn’t a federal employee.”

What do you hope your child gets out of their career in public service?

Tom: “I have no idea where my daughters will be in 20 years. I hope that they continue to have a sense of fulfillment in their jobs and a sense that they are serving the public. Those two naturally fit together. Of course I hope that they have good salary and benefits too, but I want them to feel like they made a difference.”

We also wanted to get some insights from a couple of fathers working in government:

Shahin and Family

Shahin and Family

What do you do?

Christopher Morgan-Riess: “I’m a PMF in the Department of Homeland Security.”

Shahin Saloom: “I am an Assistant General Counsel for a component within the Department of Defense.”

How old are your children? Do they understand what you do yet?

Christopher: “2 & ½ and 7 months. The older one asked today what I do at work. I just told him I’m a lawyer and, if he’s feeling fancy, I’m an attorney.”

Shahin: “My son is four. He wants credit for being four and three-quarters. He just knows I keep bad people from messing up the Army.”

Looking back, do you see a difference in how you think about your career now that you have kids?

Christopher: “Before I had kids, I was looking for jobs. Whatever suited my wants and needs. When I had kids, I started to think about careers because I wanted to find something that suited this new lifestyle.”

Shahin: “Totally. Before my career was just a career thing. Now I think all about my hours and the stability. I want to spend time with my son. My time at home went from being not a concern to the primary concern. I think it’s increased my patience and my capacity for long-term thinking. The bureaucratic nonsense doesn’t bother me as much.”

Are there things other parents working in the government have said or done which make sense to you now?

Christopher: “The most obvious one is the general exhaustion that only kids can wreak on you. I certainly sympathize more now with the bleary eyes you see in the morning. Now I understand what’s it’s like to kept awake most or all of the night.”

Shahin: “My parents were more traditional old-school. They worked and came home. I absorbed what was going on in their life by osmosis. I make a big effort to be sure that my son understands what I do and why.”

The interviews and article were conducted and written by Joseph Maltby.

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Don’t Wait For Opportunities to Find You

Since joining YGL, I have gotten the opportunity to meet so many smart, qualified, and dedicated government employees working hard to make an impact, grow their careers, and support their agencies’ missions. It is an honor to work alongside them and in some cases, mentor them.

When I talked about my journey through government, I have been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to rise quickly. People always ask: “What is your secret? How did you get your chance? Is it your dashing good looks?” Ok, I made up the third one up, but while I do admit that I have had some luck and great timing, I generally respond with some version of one of my favorite quotes from Sir Francis Bacon:

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds”

Sir Francis Bacon, a portrait

Sir Francis Bacon, a portrait

(Sir Francis Bacon – A sharp dresser and a sharp mind)

Changing your mindset

There is a common saying in entrepreneurship that you pass around 100 million-dollar ideas everyday, you just have to be aware enough to recognize them. The best opportunities aren’t handed to you; you need to find them. The same can be said in your career.

We can often get caught up in the mindset of “this is my path,” but in doing so, lose sight of the opportunities right before our eyes. The more we open ourselves up to the unknown, the better chance we have to recognize something we couldn’t see before.

Strategies for moving forward

While talking about the theory of “making opportunities” is fun, I would rather discuss HOW we can actually change our mindsets to be more attuned to opportunities.

There are many ways to make new opportunities but there is no perfect strategy. Often times new mindsets and opportunities come from places that you never expected.

Because everyone loves lists (thanks Buzzfeed), I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite strategies from people much more successful than me on how to open yourself up to new opportunities and be more proactive in your career.  This list is by no means comprehensive and every strategy may not work for every situation, but life is unpredictable and I want you to be as prepared as possible.

  1. Find a need and fill it – There are endless opportunities to be doing things better and more efficiently through new skills, better expertise, or just simply finding time to solve a problem. Find where your team is weak and expand your role.
  2. If you want to work on a project, figure out a way to make it happen – This is where you need to get creative. Maybe you can’t support the entire project, but if you can help with a small piece of it with just your spare time, you will gain great insight, experience, and exposure to the overall project.
  3. Don’t pass up an opportunity because you don’t know how to do something – We live in the age of information. If you want to do something, learn how to do it – books, youtube, classes, etc. are right at your fingertips.
  4. Say yes to as much as possible – You never know what you’re going to learn, who you are going to meet, and what connections are going to be made. There is rarely a “perfect time” to take on a new challenge. Try to avoid that trap and instead be willing to give something a try.
  5. Always put your best foot forward – Most people think of this phrase with projects they don’t like, but we need to redefine it to also include how we interact with others. People think that opportunities come from above, but most opportunities actually come from former coworkers. Remember, everyone wants to work with people they like.
  6. Join YGL – Obviously

You don’t need to try all of these at once (although you should join YGL immediately if you aren’t a member), but these are great strategies to help get you unstuck. Give them a try and see what you think, but always remember that the opportunities are out there – you just have to be able to recognize them.

This article was written by Kevin Richman.

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Applications Now Open for YGL’s Leadership Development Fellowship

The goal of the program is to help early-career young government professionals (GS-9-GS-12)  to achieve greater clarity around their career goals and to develop the skills that align to their goals over the course of the program so that they can move to the next level in their career.

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Training and Development – A Benefit in Progress

The Fascination for Knowledge

Millenials grew up with access to the latest technology and the Internet but they also saw the market crash in 2008. The increasingly high cost of living changed their outlook for the future and led them to reexamine their career goals. Nowadays, more Millennials are choosing to take advantage of obtaining a graduate degree in order to increase their chances of obtaining a well-paying job in an increasingly competitive market. For some, however, going back to school is simply a way to satisfy their craving for learning.

Continuing Education

Training and DevelopmentA recent study from Forbes showed that Millennials value training and development the highest among the dozen categories of benefits offered in the workplace. These results showed that Millennials want to continuously learn new things and develop skills as they grow in their careers.

The Challenges in Training and Development

Training costs money and since government agencies have a responsibility to tax payers to use funds appropriately on every level of the organization, getting approval for training courses and other professional development programs for agency employees can be challenging at times. There’s the approval process, which in itself can take ages. Then there’s always the possibility of pushback from higher ups because the program office do not have the budget or the resources to cover your absence. If government agency practices continue to derail opportunities for information starved Millennials, they are in danger of losing emerging leaders in government. TinyPulse, an organization that studies employee engagement and retention stated that 75% of Millennials would consider leaving their job if they don’t see options for professional development. This telling statistic makes it clear that Millennials consider training and professional development a priority and a major deciding factor in their careers.

How to Find the Balance?

Training and DevelopmentIt can be frustrating when something like government bureaucracy prevents you from getting approval for training that will enhance your skills in your current role. The best thing to do is to remain pro-active when it comes to your career and take advantage of every resource available to you including those outside of your agencies. Keep in mind that professional and even personal development opportunities can come in different forms. Some are through formal channels such as agency driven organizational initiatives like shadow and mentor programs, lunch and learn meetings, and/or lecture series presented at your agencies. You can also take advantage of the vast amount of internet-based trainings available for free and professional organizations such as Young Government Leaders that offer similar opportunities. Finally, come up with a strong case as to why a training or conference is important for your development as an employee and volunteer to share lessons learned with the agency upon return. Work with your supervisor and director in developing an individual development plan because understanding the barriers to accessing training and development in your organization will help you close that gap.

This article was written by By Doni Mckoy

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