- Michelle Rosa, program manager for Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division
- Iris Alon, administrative specialist in the office of training and development at the Transportation Security Administration
- Jonathan Ludwig, communication specialist for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Rebecca Rose, vice president of communications at the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
To start the interview, we asked them why they choose to work in public service and to describe their career paths. Here’s what they had to say. (Check out the complete article to read the full interview.)
My first career path started in operations management and then slowly geared more toward consulting and communications. After almost eight years building a comfortable career as an operations analyst, I got burnt out and decided to jump at a chance to try something completely different. I quit my corporate job, moved abroad to work as a consultant and operations manager for a small business, and then got into writing. It was then that I realized that as much as I enjoyed the opportunities and challenges presented to me by private industry, there was still something missing. And that’s when I decided to start a second career in public service.
I’ve only been in government for a little over 18 months, but it feels like I truly found my calling. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing though because my expectations were totally different coming from the private sector. It was an adjustment, especially in the beginning, but nowadays, instead of getting frustrated when something doesn’t meet my expectations, I’ve learned to refocus my energy and leverage my experiences in the private sector instead to find solutions to problems in government.
This experience greatly expanded my view of the opportunities available in a public service career, and I also learned that public service offered a strong sense of purpose to my life in how I spend my energy and time at work. At the Department of State, we were working to combat modern slavery—an incredibly important mission, and we were working on it on behalf of the American public. This was inspiring to me—that Americans felt so strongly about this issue that we have a whole team of people working on it, and I got to be part of it. After that, I was hooked, and wanted to come back to Washington to work in public service once I graduated.
So in the summer of 2006, I decided to move up to Washington and found an internship opportunity at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The job mostly focused on education and training, as well as internal communications. I eventually gained more experience and moved into a project and program manager type role, then had the opportunity to complete a six-month rotation at the Department of Transportation (DOT) as a sustainability program specialist, through the little-known Office of Personnel Management (OPM) President’s Management Council (PMC) Interagency Rotation Program, which sends federal employees to complete rotations at a different federal agency.
I recently obtained a new position as the strategic communications lead for a large national program at the VA, which has begun focusing more on communicating effectively both internally and externally. It’s a good time be working there—and of course, it has an incredibly powerful mission serving America’s Veterans.