IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Why Should Young People Work in Government IT?

On the record: State technology leaders share their pitches to get fresh faces into state and local government IT shops.

No, they haven’t changed their titles, but all technology leaders have a role to play in convincing the next generation to give government IT work a try. Here are these C-suite executives’ pitches to lure new talent into their organizations to fill their workforce gaps.

Lisa Jammer, Texas DIR Chief People and Culture Officer
Government Technology/David Kidd
"If you’re looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity, look no further than DIR [the Texas Department of Information Resources]. Here’s the reality: We know from studies that Gen Z is looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity, and the really neat thing about working for the state and particularly working for DIR is we can offer that. When you get in, you’re not a specialist in one role. We provide opportunities for our employees to do stretch goals and stretch assignments that allow employees to experience different parts of the agency. So if you’re coming to DIR, make it your first career. Come in and expand your resume and your skill set, because upskilling and reskilling is right at the heart of what we do, but overall, it’s also a great culture and one that you can grow in."
Lisa Jammer, Chief People and Culture Officer, Texas Department of Information Resources

Delaware CIO Jason Clarke
Government Technology/David Kidd
"As state CIO, I always talk to [prospective employees] about my experiences, which have been that every day is a new learning opportunity. I’ve been with this same division or agency for a little over 15 years now and every day I learn something new about what we do or what the team is engaged in, but also from our perspective on the technology side, what the agencies that we support do. We have so many vast, different agencies from archives to agriculture … I know about the poultry business, I know about corrections, I know about homeland security, law enforcement, traffic, etc. The list is huge. It keeps you engaged and it keeps it exciting."
Jason Clarke, Former Delaware CIO

North Dakota Chief Information Security Officer Michael Gregg
Government Technology/David Kidd
"I think the big one as far as why they should consider state service is because if you go into the private sector, and you’re doing one thing like MFA or you’re doing VPN, that’s all you’re going to do. If they come in and they come into government service, we’re going to have a wider range of activities they’re going to be able to do. They’re going to be able to build out their skill set to a much greater degree. And there’s also that giving back — giving back and helping and doing something for a mission."
Michael Gregg, North Dakota CISO

Virginia CIO Bob Osmond
Government Technology/David Kidd
"What we try to do is make sure that we’re doing interesting things, make sure that we’re using generative AI, make sure that we’re using artificial intelligence, make sure that we’re using things like low-code, no-code, robotic process automation and all these different tools that are exciting and different and new because that’s what people get excited about. The second part is about building a community. If you hire young people, have other young people in the organization. It’s really asking what they think, it’s involving them in the conversation, it’s making sure they feel connected to the vision of what we’re trying to accomplish for Virginia."
Robert Osmond, Virginia CIO

Montana CISO Andy Hanks
Government Technology/David Kidd
"The state of Montana’s approach to hiring IT workforce, including cybersecurity, is we want to be your best first place to work and your best last place to work. So come start your career with us. You’ll get to do really exciting things. You’ll get to get a lot of exposure to a lot of different emerging tech that you might not get if you’re siloed in a specific area in the private sector. And then go out and have your private-sector career if that’s what you want to do. But then come back to us when you retire and teach the new generation what you’ve learned in the private sector and come back and enjoy the security of working for state government".
Andy Hanks, Montana CISO

Maryland CIO Katie Savage.jpg
Katie Savage
Government Technology/David Kidd
"This is an incredible moment for us in government. I’m very excited about it. What I have heard coming from four years at DoD [Department of Defense] and during the pandemic is more than ever, young people really want to go somewhere where they can make a difference. They’re really hungry to work somewhere with a mission, but they also would like to do so from home. This is something we can provide in government. We can provide that kind of flexible structure where you can work from home or you can work in a hybrid environment, you can make a mission, and to be frank, government offers incredible benefits in terms of insurance and stability and some of the other things that the private sector can’t necessarily provide."
Katie Savage, Maryland CIO

New Hampshire CIO Denis Goulet.jpg
Government Technology/David Kidd
"I have this elevator pitch which goes like this: Come do the hardest job you’ve ever done for a third of what you’re worth. It makes people laugh a little bit, and it gives you an opportunity to talk about what you can do, the impacts you can make. I found it very motivating myself, citizen service. It’s what I use in lieu of stock options and bonuses and things like that which the private sector has. I try to link directly, if I’m talking to somebody about coming on board, what are the impacts that individual can have on the citizens. And it’s not just technology although technology is fun, so linking back to the actual societal impact you can have is a big deal to me."
Denis Goulet, New Hampshire CIO

Massachusetts CIO Jason Snyder
Government Technology/David Kidd
"I use my own personal story. I find government work to be the most rewarding work. I’ve worked in the private sector, I’ve worked across many different industries. I’ve worked in higher ed[ucation]. Government work is the most satisfying work that I’ve ever done. Obviously, the salaries don’t compare, but the ability to have an impact to your family, to your friends, is significant. And I’m actively dealing with issues that affect my family, I’m dealing with issues that affect friends, and I think the ability to do that, it’s unique. And I think it’s a major selling point."
Jason Snyder, Massachusetts CIO

Rhode Island Chief Digital Officer Brian Tardiff
Brian Tardiff
Government Technology/David Kidd
"My pitch is that we’re committed to talent development. We’ll pay for training for emerging technologies and the new skill sets required to deliver our service catalog. It’s also a pitch about service and mission. We’re not looking for a lifelong state service commitment; we’re looking for three good years where you can build your resume, deliver services to the state that you live in and that your family resides in, and a continued commitment to the workforce for career advancement and internal succession planning."
— Brian Tardiff, Rhode Island Chief Digital Officer/CIO

Utah Chief Information Officer Alan Fuller.jpg
Government Technology/David Kidd
"I come from the private sector and this is my first foray into state government, but what I’ve found is that, first of all, there’s a lot of really purpose-driven, service-oriented people at the state. Another thing is we at the state have a really unique opportunity to do lots of cool and interesting work. One day we’re working on electronic health records for the inmate population at the prison; another day we’re working on drones for the department of transportation; another day we’re working on trying to solve homelessness and intergenerational poverty. There’s just a really interesting set of problems and we give people a lot of experience and training really quickly."
Alan Fuller, Utah CIO

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to view the full digital edition online.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.