By: Emily Rolkowski, Federal Government Employee
I applied and was accepted to the 2013 Spring GovLoop mentorship program. As a federal employee working in Chicago, I desperately wanted to meet more peers working in the same sector. Even though I participated in the mentorship program remotely, I still gained a tremendous amount from it. Learning that there was another mentee from Chicago, I quickly connected with her and we set up monthly meetings. This connection was not only beneficial while in Chicago, but she is also my roommate in DC.
My mentor and I held biweekly phone calls which allowed me to see my ultimate goal very clearly. As much as I searched for federal jobs, what I really wanted was to live in Washington DC and feel a part of the public service community. At the end of the mentorship program, I decided to fly out to Washington DC and volunteer at the NextGen conference. This would not only allow me to meet the amazing people who will attend the training summit, but give me a chance to finally meet my mentor with whom I have spoken for the past 5 months.
The NextGen Conference truly changed my life. The speakers were incredibly inspiring and I felt as though they were talking directly to me. During one of the sessions, the panelists discussed that it is not always about climbing the ladder, but rather smartly mapping out your future. After that presentation I decided that upon my return to Chicago, I will speak with my manager and ask to be transferred to our Washington DC office. As soon as I made that decision, all the other pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Since moving to Washington DC I have joined a handful of organizations and all my connections to those clubs are individuals I had either met at the NextGen conference, or those who were mentees of the GovLoop program. The GovLoop mentorship program is truly valuable and allows for the mentees to honestly speak about their goals. Even though some agencies do offer internal mentoring programs, I do not think the participants are comfortable discussing their long term goals or obstacles they are facing with someone in a higher position from the same agency. Internal mentorship programs are good when wanting to obtain a sponsor. However, a mentor is someone with whom you share the good, the bad and the ugly – that will only be successful if it is done outside of your current place of employment.
** ‘Why NextGen’ is a series of stories. All of these stories are written and provided by past NextGen attendees. Their experiences are true to their career journey.