Leverage Your Peers

By: Mike Stevens, Federal Government Employee & President, YGL Los Angeles

Success2011 was my first NextGen. I had just started a leadership program with the Federal Executive Board (FEB) and volunteered for a project that would help start a Young Government Leaders (YGL) chapter in Los Angeles. For three years prior, I was a happy and content Federal servant, but then I was introduced to YGL, GovLoop, and a NextGen state of mind.

For three days I stared at the White House outside of my hotel window. On my way to the NextGen summit each morning, I walked past national monuments and government buildings with architecture and history that screamed importance. I discovered where I fit in, right next to 600+ like-minded Generation X and Y government employees with a common goal to make government better. The sessions and speakers were educational and inspiring, the atmosphere infectious and transforming. I returned to work and busted out of my cubicle – on a mission to improve my office, my agency and to organize Federal servants in Los Angeles to do the same. Today, YGL Los Angeles has almost 500 members.

2012 was my second NextGen. The YGL Los Angeles chapter hosted a breakout session, Maximizing Your Early Years: From NextGen to SES. One of the biggest breakout sessions, it was packed! It felt good to give back to the NextGen community that filled my government passion bucket a year earlier. I also met another speaker during a networking event at NextGen that year. He was a senior leader at his agency in DC, and he asked me to attend his breakout session to provide him feedback after. We have kept in touch and he somewhat became a mentor, opening doors that helped me transition to a challenging and promising career with another agency in Los Angeles. Unexpected at the time, but very much needed. That is NextGen.

2013 was NextGen+ Los Angeles. With awesome support from GovLoop and our local FEB, YGL Los Angeles hosted the first ever NextGen event outside of Washington, DC. An extension of the bigger summit, we recruited Los Angeles public service leaders to educate and inspire YGL members on the west coast. One of our speakers was Mark Pine, a former Deputy Director at NASA and current Deputy Director at the Griffith Observatory for the City of Los Angeles. Mark really embraced the NextGen vibe we threw at him and talked about a “NextGen career” and what success really looks like. He provided the Demetri Martin squiggly line success graph above. You can plan a career path all you want, but you never know what is right around the corner as long as you are ready and willing. That basically sums up my NextGen experience over the years and why I keep coming back.

NextGen has not only enhanced my career, it has changed my personal mission as a public servant. Make it a stop on your career path and see where it takes you…