Transcripts

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Joe Supervielle:

Welcome to Voices in Local Government, an ICMA podcast. My name is Joe Supervielle, with me are two ICMA local government management fellows, Desiree Casanova, and Chris Sponn. Thanks for joining today.

Christopher Sponn:

Thanks for having me.

Desiree Casanova:

Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Joe Supervielle:

So for the audience, this is a chance to hear unfiltered feedback directly from the kind of early career professionals you need to be hiring and everyone says they're interested in. So Desiree and Chris, I've gotten to know a little bit over the last month or so, and they're great. They're honest. They give direct feedback. So this is a good chance to hear it from the source, instead of just talking amongst people who are already in the city manager or kind of higher level positions. This is directly from the source. We're going to talk about a lot of things here, obviously Desiree and Chris don't speak for everyone in this early career group, but they have their own opinions. They've been around others in the fellowship program. So I think they have a good sense on the kind of the viewpoints of this category.

              We're going to start with a game and we're going to rate what is important to our guests in the workplace. So I've got a lot of feedback from managers on not really sure, here's what we're trying to do, but we don't know if it's really working. We don't know if young people care about these kind of things. So it's just not, again, not official answers, but we're just going to get some feedback on how it lands with people like Desiree and Chris. Then we're going to talk about frustrations in the hiring process, which people experience, regardless of what level or even industry they're in, hopefully come up with some ideas on how to improve. And then also talk about how to make the most out of that first role, both for the employee and for the organization, what the employee can do, what managers and coworkers can do just to make it a better experience for everyone.

              And then we're going to wrap it up with a few questions we've received from ICMA members for this kind of crowd. What we're not going to talk about today is any cliches on boomers versus millennials or gen Z. I think everyone's kind of tired of that conversation. That's not what today is about, it's more on how to maximize the impact people like Desiree and Chris can have with your organization. Just quick backgrounds, Desiree, you are from Sarasota County, Florida. What kind of work are you doing now? What topics in local government interest you moving forward?

Desiree Casanova:

Yes, I'm the current ICMA Fellow for Sarasota County. Some projects that I currently am working on are Surtax and educating the community about this 1 cent penny sales tax that we are having on a ballot in November. In addition, I get to work on the emergency rental assistance program, which is some grant funding that we receive to help our residents not become homeless or evicted. And in addition, I get to work with human resources and help them with recruitment and job fairs.

Joe Supervielle:

Okay. So a wide variety, which we'll get into later, which is a good thing. Chris, you are from Pinellas County, also in Florida. So same question, what are you working on now? What interests you long term?

Chris Sponn:

I am probably like an hour away from Desiree and I'm in the Tampa Bay area on the Gulf side of Florida. So I've been rotating through different departments. I've been doing three month rotations. So at first I started out with utilities, working on a jobs program for those coming out of jail. And then I went to parks for three months where we were developing performance measures for a level of service. And then I went to budget for three months where we were looking at funding for housing, because that's a big issue in the area with rising costs and in lack of housing in the area. And then now I'm in public works where we're working on a report card to look at our infrastructure. So that's another exciting project for me to work on where I get to lead a team of people and collaborate with people from all levels of our county government.

              Before this, I was a teacher for a few years and I worked in Chicago and East St. Louis and I saw that policy was not reflective of my students and the families. And I felt the need to get us a seat at the table. So that's really why I'm working in government right now. I want to create opportunities for individuals and ensure everyone has a fair shot. Really, I think that process improvement is an important area. I saw that was there was... On the ICMA website. Many times this does not cost much and internally we can try and figure out what we can fix. And then this can lead to happier workers and empowered residents, but sometimes it does cost money, I know we were in park and they were switching to a pay-by-play at the beaches so that's going to save us a lot of time and better enforcement, which is good for us.

              And when I was invited, we also... We're just looking at ways of how can we make certain tasks easier, if someone's not here or someone retires? So we were like developing some PDFs that give step by steps on how to do certain things through the program software. So I do find a lot of that important and interesting for a program success.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. That question comes up on just about every podcast. How is it getting paid for? Whatever the goal or the project is, nothing is free. So thanks for the intros. Let's move right into the game. So again, we're going to rate this one to five, five being the most important to you. Just things I've heard, things again, in the industry really, but I've heard directly from some ICMA members that they've tried to put some effort into with their new hires at any level. So you can give just quick response kind of immediate reaction. And then if anything strikes you or you want to elaborate on why or even maybe change your answer, go ahead. First topic, having interesting work or projects assigned to you, one to five, how important is that?

Desiree Casanova:

Highly important. I think that at any point in your career, it's important to have interesting, innovative and creative projects, not only for yourself to challenge yourself, but also to help the organization evolve and grow. If we continue to work on non-interesting projects or things that aren't of the current and modern times, then we're not also evolving with the things that are happening within the world.

Joe Supervielle:

Chris.

Chris Sponn:

Yeah. I would say it's definitely a five for me because many times we apply to a job and there's a program... There's a description of the task that you're going to do. And sometimes I do see that people aren't doing the task that they were told that they're going to be doing. So it can be kind of disheartening for new employees and new hires and younger professionals when their experience or education is not being taken advantage of. So I do find that's very important just to make sure that your employee wants to stay with your company or local government.

Joe Supervielle:

Second question, Chris, you can start. Understanding the results of your work on the community.

Chris Sponn:

I think I would also say that's a five, it's very important that we're connecting our mission and values and what we stand for. In our work, that should be really driving our goals and what we want to do as a county and how we are helping our residents. You need to really have that connection and our residents need to realize that the government is working for them, that we're on their side, that taking out the trash is local government. People down at the office, helping our cities, counties run that's our local government.

              And really, we need to make sure that our mission is really aligned with the values and the needs of our people. And if we don't have that, then a lot of what we're working for, hypothetically speaking, doesn't really exist. And they kind of say that with data, it's not happening. It's not there. It doesn't exist. We need to really be sharing these stories. Our data needs to be telling stories that this is what's happening. And that also helps us and our performance management, making decisions down the road, trying to get funding for future things that we need help in. So I do find it to be very important.

Joe Supervielle:

Public engagement's always important. Desiree, what do you think?

Desiree Casanova:

I would rate that as a five. I think the term of our profession is public servants. And so we need to embody that and we need to make sure that the results that we are accomplishing within this organization and within this profession are meeting the needs of our community and of our residents, both qualitative and quantitative. We need to make sure that how people feel, how they feel respected, the types of populations that we are communicating with and providing services to, all need to be up to par and up to the standards that we require and that they are expecting as well as residents. And then those results quantitatively what did we do? How did we do it? How many events did we have? That also needs to be taken into consideration, so I do think that the results are very important. It showcases our organization, other organizations, the State of Florida and different entities, what we're doing and how we're doing it and if we're doing it well.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. And you said it measuring too, not just the feeling, but actually having some type of hard results to point to. Next. Desire, you could start. Extra perks, like free lunches or gym memberships.

Desiree Casanova:

I think it's important. I genuinely do think that younger professionals too, appreciate other things alongside those... The gym, things like that. So I would rate that probably as a three, if I had to. I do find wellness to be very important, but I think like how we mentioned with the last question, our community impact and the results that we have is more important. What we get and what benefits we get as an employee are great, but they should be considered at a lower value based off of what we're doing for our residents, again, as a public servant.

Joe Supervielle:

Chris.

Chris Sponn:

I think a lot of those are nice. I would probably have to say one, I just have to say, pay us right and give us respect and have reasonable benefits package that treats our employees and shows some dignity.

Joe Supervielle:

All right, next question. A balanced workload. So you're challenged, but not overwhelmed or burnt out. Chris, start.

Chris Sponn:

I would have to say a four. I really think that when you get into local government, the expectation is that you are going to kind of be overwhelmed and it's really part of the job that you need to handle these challenges that come ahead and prioritize and work with the team. And I think that's another important aspect of it that if you have leadership that's giving clear direction, you can overcome a lot of these challenges.

Joe Supervielle:

Desiree.

Desiree Casanova:

I agree with Chris, I think a four would be a great rating for it. And I do think that just having an important work life balance is important, but genuine leadership in an organization that understands that, will create an environment for it.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. And I'll chime in on that one too. There's also some responsibility on the actual employee, especially in remote working or other situations. Boss can set an example and check in, but they're not always necessarily expecting as much as you think they might be. So I think most bosses would prefer solid, consistent work over a time span, instead of a lot but then burning out and kind of quitting or just wanting to move on. So that doesn't help anyone. Next question, Desiree, you can start. A clearly defined and realistic path to additional responsibilities/promotion.

Desiree Casanova:

I think that's important. I think I would rate that as a four also. I think most young professionals, and again, speaking for myself, want to know where they're headed. They want to see the road, but they also want to see the destination. It's very important for us to be able to have those conversations in our evaluations and within other meetings so that we can understand how we're impacting the organization and where we can go further with that organization as well.

Joe Supervielle:

Chris.

Chris Sponn:

I mean, I agree with a lot of what of Desiree said. I'd say a five. Yeah. I mean, people are trying to plan their lives. They want to figure out where they're going to live. They want to start a family, they want to get their careers going. So I think clarity's just so important because there may be other opportunities out there, but you may also really love the place you're working at. And it can be disappointing when nothing comes through in the area that you are and when you could have done something else. So I just really think that clarity is very important in providing those clear pathways for people. So they know that there's something there because there are also people have... They have kids and student loans and there's a lot of other obligations that they have. And eventually at some point, some of those obligations will have to override a good working environment if you can't provide that in the present.

Joe Supervielle:

Next item, formal recognition in front of the department or even the entire organization. Chris, go ahead.

Chris Sponn:

I would just have to say three. I'm not really about getting praised in front of everybody, I think. The working in of itself and the product that you create says enough. But I do want workers to feel valued, to be heard, that people recognize their work, that they're just not a robot doing more work on top of more work. And maybe it is important to give people recognition though. And some people have different personalities. Some people are like, yeah, I really want that, and some people don't. It just may be as simple like, "Hey, how's it going?" A pat on the back and they'll be happy for the rest of the year, but there may be other people that are like, yeah, they would love it. So I think I would just really be open to those different kind of things.

Joe Supervielle:

Well, then I'll add on before Desiree goes. What about the informal recognition? Even if it's a three, you kind of said that that's another way to do it and then-

Chris Sponn:

Yeah. Yeah. I would say that, that's really important. I think that can be tied into your performance evaluations or can just check in that it's good to know that your work is being recognized and that your team is there for you.

Joe Supervielle:

Desiree, what do you think about recognition, informal or formal?

Desiree Casanova:

I agree with Chris' response, I would say a three would be a great rating for it and it's very subjective, just like he said. So you have to really understand your employees and understand how they like to be recognized and valued so that you're recognizing and valuing them the way that is meaningful to them.

Joe Supervielle:

Next. Opportunities to network outside of the organization, including access to attend a variety of events, even if there's cost involved with ticket and travel. Desiree, go ahead.

Desiree Casanova:

I rate that as a five. I personally enjoy and love going to conferences and events. That is how I earned this Fellowship. I was able to meet with my county administrator and our two assistant county administrators at the FCCMA conference last year and to network with them and communicate with them, and it has allowed me to have this opportunity that I'm in now. And it has allowed me to meet so many other people in addition to the ICMA conference, the regional conference. For me, that's something that's really important that has really developed me professionally and helped me with my career.

Joe Supervielle:

Chris.

Chris Sponn:

Yeah, I agree with Desiree. It's definitely a five for me, if you're able to afford it. That's actually how I met Desiree. We met at the ICMA conference, so we've been friends ever since, and we've been helping each other, supporting each other and it makes us better employees for both of our counties. And I've been able to go to Portland for the ICMA Conference and then to Atlanta for the Regional Conference. And there, I've been able to meet so many different people, gone to so many great sessions and I've been able to really put those sessions, take the information ahead and put it into my work. And if I didn't... It didn't apply to my work now, I was able to share the PowerPoint, the slide decks, the connections to other employees. And on top of that, I've met a couple great mentors.

              There's one in Florida city manager and then one in upstate New York. And they constantly are there for me if I need help, providing feedback, just really giving me a perspective of what they're doing in their role as a county man... Running a county, running a city and what their perspective is because a lot of times, I just have the perspective of what Desiree has or a couple of the other fellows and younger professionals. It's really cool that just by happening to go to that conference, I have this lifelong connection that's helping me.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. And it's not just about networking or your long term career, the organizations benefit because people like you can learn from others and just do their current job better. So also quick plug for ICMA Annual Conference, September 17th in Ohio this year. Next item. Location/remote workability. I know remote isn't always possible in a lot of local government jobs depending on the department or the role, and it might be kind of phasing out now. But what do you rate at your current job or a potential in the future, the ability to have some remote flexibility, but also just the actual location? Which a lot of people listening might be a little jealous of both of you being on the Gulf Coast of Florida, but how important is that to you? Chris, go ahead.

Chris Sponn:

I would've to say a five. It's very important that we need to consider what our potential workers are, what kind of environment they want, and because we're competing against the private sector, other nonprofits that are offering hybrid models and different options like that.

Joe Supervielle:

Desiree.

Desiree Casanova:

I definitely think that location is important, so to rate this question, I would probably rate it at four.

Joe Supervielle:

And the last one, salary. Now, I know no one actually wants to say or admit salaries that important. And I think it's true that anyone working in local government, it's not, because there are other industries obviously, and other career paths we could have pursued that would've checked that box, but even just within a comp-range of a given title or responsibility set at a local government, it's still about getting paid on scale fairly. So, hard to put a number on it, but I'm going to ask you to anyways. Desiree, what do you think for salary?

Desiree Casanova:

Yeah, I definitely think that's important. I would rate that also as a four. We do just like you said, Joe, we did join it a specific type of profession, not for the money. If we wanted to, we would've joined the private sector and that's why we are public servants. But with that, we do want to maintain our bills and other things that we have to take care of. I definitely think that with job posting and the job description, the pay should be listed on there and it should be a fair pay. It shouldn't be a lot lower than anything for that specific type of position because the work and the quality are important. And we as public servants are providing 100% quality and work to our community and to our residents,

Joe Supervielle:

Chris.

Chris Sponn:

Again, I agree with a lot of what Desiree said. I'd say, for me personally, it's a foreign... I have the privilege of being able to be paid a little less right now because I don't have many loans and things like that and kids and other obligations. So I'm very fortunate in that way. But I do know there's a lot of other of my friends and other people I know, they're very social justice minded, they want to make a difference and in one way or another through different interests, but they had to end up applying for big law firm jobs because they just have so many loans.

              So at a certain point, if you are able to do better on the salary, I think that's a big issue that I hear a lot with... From my peers like they want to be paid and no one's asking for the world, just want to be paid reasonable, have enough to save so that they can earn a decent living. So I really think that's important that we need to think about because, again, when looking at the private sector, their starting salaries are much higher and people aren't asking for that, like Desiree said, but it also needs to be reasonable.

Joe Supervielle:

And that goes back to what I said earlier, that the big question is how is it getting paid for? Because I think most people listening agree with that and they want to pay whether it's their early career, new hires or mid-level people underneath them, but department heads and managers want to pay people more. But where's the budget coming from? And that's sometimes out of a lot of people's power. So no quick fix there, but it comes up every time and it's not just early career. People like you put in five plus years of good work and want to move up managers and department heads need to make space or find ways to keep you, not just get you in local government, but keep you, because those other opportunities are not going away. Those cover all of it. I know a lot of them ended up in that three to five range.

              So what we're also going to have Desiree and Chris do are actually rank them. We'll follow up with a blog post because whether it's a four or five it's... These are all obviously important, that's why they're on the list. That's why ICMA members are currently already trying to do them for their stuff. But I think it'll be interesting to actually see when you all can look at the list long term, because today you were just reacting to it, but you'll have a chance to think about it and actually rank them in order. So we'll follow up with that after the podcast.

              So now it came up a few times, but let's get into the hiring process itself, which is, I think frustrating for a lot of people... Any level of your career really, but especially there at the beginning, private sector or local government. Desiree made a good point about listing the salary right there and being transparent with that, so that's one item. Going through the fellowship and then into the future, what have you all seen recently in the hiring process that is not just frustrating, but might have some not quick fixes, but little things that won't necessarily solve it entirely, but at least help make it more realistic for people in your position? Desiree, what do you think?

Desiree Casanova:

I think it's super important to be able to hire the right people and in order to hire the right people, we need to hire them efficiently and effectively. So I get the opportunity to work with HR and recruitment where I'm at, at Sarasota County. And one thing that we've noticed is these really great candidates get taken by either other local government agencies or the private sector because we are too slow, because we don't call them that same week or if not within two to three days. And by the time we do reach out to them, they've already been offered or been interviewed at a different agency. So I think that's something to really take into consideration because if we act too slow and we take months to just interview them and then get them interviewed by the next either department director or the next person in line and then get all that paperwork and background check, that person is waiting on, possibly without a job for months. So that's, I think, a big key factor to take into consideration for this.

Joe Supervielle:

Chris.

Chris Sponn:

Yeah. I had a few points, I thought that there should be more flexibility and transferable skills. I do think we kind of handcuff ourselves sometimes when it's like you need five years, three years experience in public administration and that's kind of it. I taught for a while and I have a lot of transferable skills that are useful and I've done the Fellowship for this past year, doing several high level projects in different departments that are equivalent to that and are actually harder than what the job is asking for. We also see that with veterans, they've done so much great work for us and they also get handcuffed by this. They don't have public administration experience specifically. So we really need to open up our thought process in this because it can be intimidating for people when they kind of look at it and it's like, oh, I don't have that but I know I can do it, but I don't really have that.

              So they don't even bother to apply or they just get showered immediately. I did see another issue of just how long some of the applications are. They're not user friendly at all. I had to fill out the information in one of these tiny boxes and the box couldn't get bigger, so I'm writing a paragraph in this tiny box and I have to scroll through and that's taken forever to do. One was asking for my elementary school that I went to and what degree I got from there, at a certain point, you just want to get people in the door and go from there. And then really with... Even for the initial application, having to put a reference down, their contact info, the exact date you started, the address of the place can be too much.

              And remember you're clicking through boxes this whole time and it takes hours to fill this all out. A good friend of mine had to work multiple jobs in high school and throughout college to just support herself. So she was just working all over the place. So when she's doing applications, she stuck having to fill out every single box of information here, trying to find those old contacts. Many times the employer does not exist anymore, or the reference does not even work there anymore, but really she already has references that she needs for the actual position that is applicable, not that earlier work. So really she's a highly qualified person, but she's basically being punished for being poor. And she has a horrible experience because she had to work all these jobs, she's stuck doing all this extra work. And a lot of times people have jobs, children, second jobs, family obligations, and they want to apply to some of these jobs but sometimes you end up missing out because they literally don't have the time to do the application.

              And lastly, I'll have to say just having the no point of contact in applications, you know, you put in this time, you invest into it, even interview and then you just don't get a response, it can be frustrating just having to wait around, like Desiree was saying, it can be hard just waiting and saying, what's happening? But really the same concept applies here. It just makes government look worse and only contributes to negative perceptions that people have of it. That you just don't hear back from them and then that's kind of it, and just leave a bad taste in people's mouths.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. The proverbial black hole of the internet portal for applications, there's a balance of trying to sort out or filter, it's tough to even say that about people, but filter out candidates. HR and recruiters try and get to a point where they're selecting the supposedly most qualified candidates for the hiring authority to, or the hiring manager to select from. The bots or the online systems can't always do that effectively. So based on what you all just said, it sounds like one idea to improve is to literally reduce the formal restrictions, whether it's years of experience or having to fill out job history from high school and college. I think the HR people might push back and say, "But that was our directive. We didn't necessarily even agree with that. But that's the process that was in place. It's not on us to change that, but maybe a city manager or if the council gets involved, they can kind of change policies." One takeaway from this is just clearly make it a shorter, simpler process. Would you two agree with that?

Desiree Casanova:

Yes. For sure.

Chris Sponn:

Yes.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. And then on the back end, maybe if it takes a few more interviews or because we've simplified that process, there's maybe a bigger initial pool, it might take a little bit more effort on the second round, but at least give more people a better opportunity without just cutting them essentially, and not even following up on why.

Desiree Casanova:

Right, because a phone interview can be as short as 10 to 15 minutes, but if somebody wanted to interview for 30 to 45 minutes and then have the second interview for an hour or an hour and a half, the application is just a piece of paper. That's why we have either the phone or the in-person interview or both so that we can get to know that person and see how they communicate verbally and talk to them based off of their experiences.

Joe Supervielle:

So do you all have any ideas on how local government can make entry level or just early career positions more appealing? How to compete with the private sector? Again, it's not just about money, and even overcoming maybe that stigma of government, which unfortunately is mostly on the politics side of things, but it can bleed over into non-elected unpartisan local government professionals. That's still kind of a challenge. So what do you think the local governments, or even the recruiting companies that help, how can they better communicate with people like you when you're even deciding that first... Before you had the fellowship like, should I do this? Should I go to law school? Should I work for whoever else? How can they do a better job of making it more appealing for people like you. Chris, go ahead.

Chris Sponn:

I mean, I would have to say that first off, we really need to take a step back and focus on our marketing and our website, our social media and our outreach and see where we need to be better because many times this is your first and probably the last contact if your website is not on par. We just live in a digital world at this point. I do still think that a lot of young people want to make a difference in the world and they're looking for meaningful work, the workplace is evolving though, and there's opportunities that can be found through nonprofits and even in the private sector, they're doing a lot of work, so try to be responsive and receptive of change. But I think that government is still the top place that can satisfy these young people's ambitions. I just think a generic, strategic vision is simply not enough. We really need to be communicating our brand to the people. So they really understand, this is a real possibility, I can work here and I am making a difference, there are ways to tie that in to your passions and government.

Joe Supervielle:

Yeah. As a follow-up on that a little bit, instead of just the bigger message of work for local government because you can make a difference, would it be helpful for marketing campaigns to focus on specific projects that might hit on specific levels of interest or, oh, that matters to me, it's not just a generic, local government helps people, let's say they're doing this project, they're doing that project, and it's more tangible. Is that what you're getting at?

Chris Sponn:

Yeah. Yeah, because I think that we do tons of special projects all over the place throughout the country, and a lot of times that's not advertised on our websites and things like that. So for me, my first project was with the utilities department and we had this idea of a job's program for returning citizens leaving the county jails. So they gave me that idea and I got to run with it. So really we had hard to fill positions at utilities. And then we also had these individuals leaving who needed opportunities. So I developed the marketing for the program, a program outreach, performance measures. And in this program we were showing folks that there's a career ladder and that your hard work will be rewarded. So I think kind of just making it clear, also is like, "Hey, this is a path that you can have. If you put in the work, you can get certifications and go back to school and do these other things."

              But we really made it open to everybody. And really the processes are pretty simple, was connect, prepare, apply. So to connect individuals in the jails, could email from a kiosk, their interest in the program. And then to prepare, they would meet with a utilities person and they would kind of go over the process, look at knockout questions, kind of look at their qualifications and better prepare them. And then finally they apply for the position. So that's just a fantastic program that we're doing, but you may not necessarily see it on the website. So that's a very important issue that is helping individuals who just need an opportunity and they are coming directly from our community. Also, we have veterans that work in our county also, they're doing a lot of great work and we have a lot of veterans all over the place.

              I think it's important that we recognize them. Also, my dad served in the Navy and there's just plenty of opportunity with these individuals to work. They have the work ethic, they have the job experience, they have everything and we do have programs for them also. So I'm sure people do that all over the place too but you wouldn't really know about that looking at someone's Facebook or Twitter or things like that. So we do have the projects to market. So I do like your idea of coming up with some sort of idea like that because really a lot of times, people when they think of local government, I really don't know what they're thinking of, honestly. I don't know what I think of really, growing up as a kid, yeah, I wasn't really sure what it... Like what's the connection? Yeah.

Joe Supervielle:

That's kind of the problem. They don't think about it until something goes wrong and then it's just assumed, why is this wrong? Whether it's the pothole or the sanitation or the speeding ticket that they can't even figure out how to pay online. I might have had that experience recently myself.

Chris Sponn:

Oh wow.

Joe Supervielle:

So Desiree, what do you think about how local government can appeal to people in high school, undergrad? Even if they finished grad school, get more people like you and Chris in the door. What did it for you and what do you think can work for others?

Desiree Casanova:

I think the two big things to think about are communication, which is what Chris mentioned and education. Right now we have the ability at my county to go and educate high school students who know nothing about local government. They don't understand how it works. They don't understand the different departments that we have and all the variety of jobs that we offer. We're literally educating them. And a lot of the times we're actually educating the teachers as well. Sometimes they're not sure about the various departments that we have and just everything that we offer. So we plant that seed in their mind and we show them that we do that also with college fairs and sometimes college students are a little bit more aware of what local government does, but still again, the variety of job opportunities are just unknown to so many people. For me, I actually didn't know about local government. I didn't learn about it until I was interested in pursuing a master's degree.

              And I said, "Well, what master's degree am I going to pursue, knowing that I got an undergraduate degree in sociology?" And somebody said, "Well, what about local government?" And I said, "Well, what is that? Does it have good benefits? Does it make good money? What type of impact am I making?" And someone educated me about it. And I learned about it. I researched it. And I said, "Oh my gosh." I said, "This is great. Look at everything that it offers." And that's what started my journey, all because someone had a conversation with me and told me about this profession. Then I took the initiative to meet with different city and county managers, any single person that would take the time to meet with me for coffee or lunch. And I said, "What is it like in the organization that you work with? How does your organization operate? And why are you happy to work for this organization and work as a public servant?" And after those responses, I was literally hooked and I said, "This is what I want to do. This is what I want to do for my life."

 

 

Episode is sponsored by

Guest Information

Desiree Casanova, assistant to the county administrator, Sarasota County, Florida; former ICMA Local Government Management Fellow, Sarasota County, Florida

Christopher Sponn, deputy workforce development director, Tompkins County, New York; former ICMA Local Government Management Fellow, Pinellas County, Florida

 

Episode Notes

Part one begins with Desiree and Christopher providing insight for CAOs and department/team leaders to understand what aspects or benefits is most important to their job satisfaction. With many of the nine categories scoring a four or five, there's a follow up blog post with a ranked order.

The hiring process is discussed, with common frustrations and ideas on new approaches that can help local government win the passionate and talented early career professionals that are in such high demand.

Part one concludes with thoughts on how early career professionals can best contribute and add value to their local governments right away, while each side can be intentional for further development.

Then, listen to part two.

Resources

ICMA Local Government Management Fellowship. Applications open September, 2022.

FellowsHost Organizations

Sponsor Offers

2022 ICMA Annual Conference Content Available On-demand Through December 31!

In-person and digital attendees were emailed credentials for the conference online platform on 9/12/2022. New users can still register for on-demand access.

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