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Looking for a Government Job? – Secrets from the C-Suite with Karen Evans, Peter Tseronis and Jim Trinka

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Many of us marvel at the folks who climbed the leadership ladder and made it to the top of our organizations. We wonder “What can I do to follow in their footsteps?” During GovLoop’s Virtual Career Fair panel: Secrets of the C-Suite we talked with people who’ve risen through the ranks quickly and with extraordinary integrity. Did you attend? Click here to download the training certificate.

The DorobekINSIDER’s Chris Dorobek moderated the panel of experts:

  • Peter Tseronis, CTO, Energy Department
  • Jim Trinka, Executive Director, Senior Executive Leadership Development Program (SELDP), Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  • Karen Evans, Former Administrator Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Keys to succes?

“The major bonus to being a federal employee is that you are exposed to to some many different fields. But the key is to really figure out what your agency mission is and focus on that. Don’t get so focus on your individual tasks that you miss out on the greater agency mission. Plus by focusing on the mission you are exposed to so many more opportunities,” said Tseronis.

“One of the biggest things about being a federal worker is you get to see the impact of your work on a large scale,” said Evans.

“I am almost a professional student, I have always been focused on learning something new,” said Trinka.

Volunteer for Projects

“If you are stuck in a rut or at the top of your field, you need to look for opportunities to do more. One way to do that is look for intra-agency projects,” said Evans.

“Government is never short of intra-agency working groups. I just finished one up with IPV6. A lot of those requests come out from OMB. By volunteering for those you get to be pro-active and on the cusp of new projects like cloud computing, big data etc,” said Tseronis. “You also get to report back to your own agency and become a mini-expert.”

“You also should get out and share your knowledge. Volunteer to speak at conferences or networking sessions. I have gotten all of my jobs from meeting the right people at these sessions,” said Trinka.


“Karen was actually one of my first mentors,” said Tseronis. “I just emailed her directly one day and asked if she had a few minutes to chat. And she said yes!”

“I am very goal oriented, so when I see people who work hard, I try to create opportunities for them. That’s what I saw in Pete. It takes a risk to ask to be a mentor. And people in the C-Suite know that. So if you are respectful, I really do believe the C-Suite will respond back to requests for mentorship,” said Evans. “But you need to have specific outcomes in mind when you ask a question. It’s not just a bonding time.”

Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?

“When I was a GS-12 looking for a promotion my boss said to me, ‘have a plan,’ and that advice has really stuck with me. You really need to think, ‘what is it that I want to do?’ and then take it from there. Your plan can always change, but it’s important to plan ahead,” said Tseronis.

“My best advice is something my mom taught me. It’s simple be as nice to the people when you are on your way up. Don’t forget where you come from,” said Evans.

“The key is to be focused. Sometimes you can’t control your advancement so you need to do the best job you possible can at any given moment. That laser focus will help you succeed,” said Trinka.

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