PROGRAM SPECIALIST (Current Employee) – Boston, MA – September 30, 2014
I respond to various inquiries from constituents regarding their child support cases as well as state agencies seeking technical, policy, and legislative assistance regarding the operation of their program.
I act as a liaison for child support matters involving the Social Securtity Administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs. In this capacity I have learned the importance of collaboration and effective planning and communication. Developing partnerships and collaborations serves as both the hardest and most enjoyable part of this job. Organizations often have competing missions for the same population. Bridging the differences can be difficult but extremely gratifying when they occur.
Public Affairs, Training, Customer Service (Former Employee) – Regional office – January 8, 2014
A typical day at work (or home as the case may be) will be reading and responding to emails, making and receiving phone calls as a part of researching an assignment. Work is fairly independent, depending on supervisor.
Most people choose working for the Federal government because it is more secure than civilian jobs and comes with great benefits, but the drawbacks to the job are salary and promotion.
Because I had been a public affairs officer in the military, I knew other ways to do the same job. Sometimes that was a problem. The Federal government deals with change with every change of administration. Change is still a tense time.
Co-workers are in competition to secure promotions or job changes. The atmosphere is not a place to gossip or confide in fellow workers. Honestly, I learned to be less open and stick to business.
The hardest part of the job is working with leaders who tend to be managers without leadership training or experience. Often they see themselves as leaders, but would find a corporate posting not to their liking at all. As a result, there also tends to be little or no flexibility in the operations and procedures. Image and the appearance of providing improvements in the organization are everything.
The most enjoyable part of the job or jobs as work may be related, but the job itself may be entirely different in focus and procedure as you move up and around the organization. Working in a regional office involves working directly with the states or territories. Central office works with regions and other groups on a national scale. The focusmore... of each is different, each interesting in its own way.
As a Public Affairs or Customer Service Specialist you would establish and maintain relations with the media and public relations staff of various organizations and groups. You could also review and analyze Congressional and White House correspondence for appropriate responses, and prepare written responses to a wide variety of technical, complex and sensitive controlled inquiries concerning the program. You may also be asked to develop standard language to be used in response to similar inquiries; however, you will serve as an integral part of public affairs/public information activities and projects informing and educating Federal and State staff as well as a broad general audience.
You may provide training, speak at regional and national conferences; and produce articles for national, regional and local publication and distribution. In addition to face-to-face communication, you will use other methods of disseminating information: news releases, articles, scripts, fact sheets, backgrounders, memos as well as producing audiovisual and video presentations.
Research and respond to inquiries from Congress, State and Federal staff and the general public. Develop procedures. Maintain public database. Manages referral contact base. Provide training in the area of customer services, presentation development and delivery and public inquiries, especially in dealing with difficult constituents or clients.
Work extensively with various State government and educational organizations and with public interest groups, forming and leading work groups for the purpose of resolving primarily program image issues and public awareness. Clearly defining these problem areas, targeting audiences, recommending solutions, and developing and managing implementation plans.
As a Program Specialist Trainer you could be responsible for training development, managing other training specialists, writing and presenting training programs. You could coordinate, facilitate and present at National and Regional conferences and/or manage contractor/consultant projects to develop broad-based training programs and supplemental tools. At the same time, you may be asked to write speeches and develop presentations for senior executive staff.
As program specialist you would analyze State statutes and policies, program plans or grantee applications and amendments, manuals and operating procedures to ensure federal compliance. You or you and others in the region would advise and negotiate with the State or grantees to improve program performance and to resolve issues. Writing research and background/ briefing papers are a normal part of the job. At the regional level, you might have to design, write and deliver presentations.
A federal government job is a good secure job--especially at the headquarters. Work is not overwhelming. Some programs allow employees to work from home. Depending on your level, the organization culture changes. In the HQ, there is flexibility to move if a job or supervisor doesn't suit. Also, the grades and jobs vary greatly. Agencies do vary as to promotion possibilities and variety of work. The Administration for Children and Families is a great place to feel good about helping people. Obviously at the State level it is a more direct experience; however, in general, the pay is less.
The best part of the job is that it is relatively secure, while a source of dismay is that leadership rarely take on other managers as part of a problem. It's always the worker bee. There are no real moderators of issues. Due to the smaller nature of the regions there is limited movement or flexibility of job choice or promotions. Sometimes the only way to get away from a negative situation for whatever reason is to change jobs or hold out until retirement.
The hardest part of the job is working with leaders, who tend to be managers without leadership training or experience, so there also tends to be little or no flexibility. Image in the organization is everything.less