YGL – Taking Control of Your Federal Career

Starting today, Young Government Leaders will cross-post their weekly blog on GovLoop. This is a great series written by the executive board of YGL with topics ranging from mentoring, leadership, to managing life outside the office. Please check out the original blog at the YGL website

We will begin by posting a few of my favorite YGL blogs from the last few months.

Taking Control of your Federal Career

Have you ever wondered if working for the Federal government is the best fit for you professionally? If you are currently pondering your “Federal” existence, I recommend you take some time to really pinpoint what you don’t like or enjoy about your current job situation. Often, many people unilaterally dismiss working for the Federal government, when the issue is actually that their agency, job series, or team is not the best fit. As young government professionals, it is important to think about the root of your professional unhappiness before taking a leap to your next job. Otherwise, you will find yourself continually in the wrong position. Once you have figured the real reasons you are unhappy in your job and what you would like to have in your next job, you can begin to take control of the situation.

Here are some questions to ponder when trying to figure out what you need to change or want in your future position:

1) Do you love the mission of your particular agency? If not, there are plenty of other federal agencies that might have a mission more in line with your own interests, cares and concerns. Do some research and find a good fit for you.

2) Do you enjoy how you spend you days at work? Do you like the activities your job requires of you? Do you feel tied down by your job series or interested in exploring another job series? If so, don’t be afraid to ask your agency for developmental rotations outside of your typical line of work. Keep in mind, this might result in putting in some extra hours and doing additional work, but it will be worth finding your job bliss in the long run. If you are curious about other job series, be sure to network with recognized people in your field of interest; you never know who you will meet or the opportunities that will arise as a result of a mere conversation.

3) Are you enjoying your job but just don’t like your team? If so, don’t be afraid to tell your boss you need a change and would like to work on a different team. You will never have new opportunities if you don’t ask for them and I’m sure your boss has been in your situation at some point in his/her career.

When considering whether to take the leap to another agency or whether you should stay in government, remember that many of the most successful Government leaders have taken a unique approach to their Government career and stepped outside the typical tenured employee. My advice to each of you is to follow in these leaders’ footsteps and take control of your career. Explore different agencies and jobs throughout your time in the Federal Government. Enjoy ever minute that you have the opportunity to serve your country. And, don’t assume that just because your current job isn’t working for you that your perfect job doesn’t exist in the Federal Government.

Cara Spiro, Professional Development Co-Chair
Young Government Leaders

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