“Up-and-coming” is a regular FedScoop feature profiling the rising stars in federal government.
Brittney Manchester (@BrittManch)
Public Affairs Specialist
Office of Personnel Management
What inspires you to work for government?
I was always fascinated by the prospect of a career in the federal government since many of my friends worked for various agencies during my undergraduate studies at American University. Working at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is both an honor and a privilege. I love walking to work every day and passing the White House and the Washington Monument. They are a constant reminder to me of why I come to work every day – to fulfill the mission of the federal government and serve the citizens of the United States. OPM’s specific mission is to “recruit, retain, and honor a world class workforce to honor the American people.” This statement also inspires me because I help my agency ensure that the federal government is staffed by the best and the brightest, so that the work of the government is accomplished in the most innovative way possible.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing as a “typical day” for me! I am a Public Affairs Specialist at OPM and work with members of the press, so every day is different. I can normally gauge my daily workload by the morning news headlines regarding federal workers. I am always on my toes, whether it is setting up a press briefing, attending an event that is open to the public with one of OPM’s senior leaders, or responding to media inquiries. Every day and sometimes every hour is a different experience. One aspect that I love about my job is that it spans across the entirety of OPM. Typically, I work with members of the press on every OPM issue, from hiring programs such as Pathways and the Veterans Hiring Initiative, to employee work benefits, to performance management and development, to retirement benefits – just to name a few! In this regard, I am very fortunate to work with all of the departments within my agency, and I have been able to build fulfilling relationships with my OPM colleagues.
What advice do you have for senior level executives to help them cultivate the next generation of public servants?
My advice for senior level executives is to continue to promote government service and spread the word about the “cool” jobs and other great things that federal employees are capable of. The federal government is a wonderful place to work and build a career, because it offers a multitude of jobs that people might not even realize. You can fight forest fires, go to the International Space Station, mint our coins and print our money, trace diseases back to their sources, and help farmers maintain our food supply. The next generation of public servants is from all over the world, so there needs to be a strategic communication push to get the message out to everyone. Social media should definitely be utilized because the next generation of public servants will continue to be even more technologically savvy than we are today. However, it is also crucial that senior level executives ensure that the right people are hired into the federal workforce so that great mission that we work for everyday continues.
Do you have any mentors? If so, what role have they played in your career?
There are a handful of people that I look up to as a mentor who have been instrumental in my career at OPM. In particular, I have one mentor, Stephen Shih, the Deputy Associate Director for Executive Resources and Employee Development at OPM, who I actually asked point-blank “will you be my mentor?” I have learned a great deal from all of these individuals. These are people that I have been able to sit down with and run ideas by to make sure I am on the right track, that have given me advice on everything from which training to take to which outfit to wear for the big meeting tomorrow. Mentors are imperative in whatever career you choose because they have your best interests at heart and help you figure out your career path. My mentors are confident in my abilities and have thus raised my confidence in myself and greatly helped me in my career.
What’s your favorite DC hangout?
I have been in DC for about six years so picking my favorite DC hangout is way too hard. Anywhere where my friends are becomes my favorite DC hangout at that moment – it all depends on the company! A great spot I found recently is JoJo Restaurant and Bar on U St. If you like jazz music, I highly recommend it.
How do you unwind?
To unwind I love to work out and go to the gym – exercise really helps me clear my head after a long day. In particular, I love to attend spin class and hope to get spin certified in the near future. In addition to the gym, a place I love to go when I need to get out of DC is the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls. It is a beautiful place to walk or hike!