Federal mentors dispense wisdom on YouTube

Mentoring has gone digital.

Top government executives now are dispensing career advice to the next generation of federal employees via YouTube, as part of a new project launched Monday by an information technology media company.

FedMentors features leaders from across government in a series of short videos, answering questions ranging from "Why would you recommend someone consider working for the government?" to "What advice do you have for young employees who feel overwhelmed in their new roles?" The video clips run from 1 to 2 minutes and address lessons learned and career advancement tips based on each mentor's individual government experience.

"It's something that has been a dream of mine coming true," says Goldy Kamali, founder and chief executive officer of FedScoop, a Washington-based IT news and education company. Before creating FedScoop in 2008, Kamali spent more than a decade in tech industry sales and management.

The first FedMentor is Dave McClure, associate administrator at the General Service Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. FedScoop will feature a different sage each Wednesday for the next year.

Kamali, who conducted the interviews, says she was overwhelmed by the positive response from government leaders to the project. Looming retirements in the government workforce and the subsequent loss of institutional knowledgeinspired her to create a platform for new feds to connect with and learn from top agency leaders -- both political appointees and career civil servants. More than 950,000 federal employees are eligible to retire during the next five years, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Other mentors participating in the project include David Wennergren, assistant deputy chief management officer at the Defense Department; Vance Hitch, chief information officer at the Justice Department; and Bobbie Stempfley, director of the national cybersecurity division at the Homeland Security Department.

Kamali said a theme that emerged during her interviews was the importance of brainstorming with colleagues:. "What mostof these people who have become so accomplished really recommend is to seek out people in your organization who are mentors, who might be senior to you, or your peers, but basically people you can bounce ideas off of."

And Kamali has elicited some interesting answers to questions, at least in the first video unveiled Monday with McClure. In response to a question asking what influenced him early in his government career, McClure -- somewhat surprisingly for a federal executive -- cites the importance of risk-taking, among other things.

"I think one of the things that people in government don't fully appreciate is that you can take risk in government," McClure says. "It's an environment that tries to be risk-free, but it's very difficult to lose your job. So I kind of went into it with eyes open [and] rather than following all the rules, why not think of new ways of doing things and challenge the as-is."

Kamali said the project has been a labor of love and one of the best things she's done in her career so far. "I work crazy hours, but I really am a happy camper."

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