Posts from the ‘DC Government’ Category

Professional Development: Week 3

Professional Development

Hello! Welcome back to another week of fun and excitement at DCRA.  As program coordinators Ms. Kristina Swann and Ms. Tania Williams informed you the first week, we’ll have a host of professional development sessions for you to participate in this summer.

This week, there are two sessions, but only one is mandatory.  If  you haven’t touched base with your supervisor or coordinator to let them know which sessions you’d like to attend, or if you’d like to make a change do so as quickly as possible.  This week’s sessions are:

Understanding Government Structure and Operations

9:15am to 10:30am, 2nd Floor Hearing Room
Wednesday, July 14th

DCRA Executive Panel Discussion
10:30am to 12:00pm, 4th Floor Emergency Operations Center
Friday, July 16th


School vs. Work

During the summer, many students choose to get a job. A summer job, in

Van Crawford

Van Crawford

some ways, can be much better than time spent otherwise at school.  But, for some it can just remind them of how much they miss school. The youth at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) have been debating on which they prefer.

Jason Barnes says he’d rather wake up in the morning and go to work as opposed to going to school. He says that work is more of a drama-free environment that allows him to concentrate on the tasks before him, without having to worry about distractions. Because Jason goes to a school which doesn’t end until late in the afternoon, he says that this leaves him tired; which ultimately makes work his choice of preference. Summer youth Anna Marie thinks differently. She much rather prefers being at school. She thinks that school keeps her more engaged. She also thinks that at school she can have more of a laid back attitude about things; whereas at work you must have more of a professional and stern way of thinking. There will always be others, such as Ahmed Brown, who has an in-between feeling on which he feels keeps him more active. He cannot decide what he’s more pleased to wake up and start his day doing. Ahmed enjoys school and work both the same. He feels that they both equally keep him busy, although if he had to choose he would probably choose school because of the level of friendships he has there.

The general analysis of choice around the office can definitely not be determined. Most kids constantly crave for summer during the entire nine months of the school year. But, in most cases, unless a child is doing something that they absolutely love during the summer, they will be anxious to go back to school. A summer job for some youth is most certainly something that takes getting used to. But, for most, anything will always be better than waking up every morning and going to school.

–Van Crawford

Preparing for the Future

Darion Parker, Writer

Darion Parker, Writer

This past week I went around the building asking summer youth for their feedback on the professional development sessions. Overall, everyone was satisfied with the time spent on each session. The majority said that they learned a lot during the sessions about what it means to be a professional. When I asked them the most important thing they took from the sessions, almost everyone said the importance of networking. It really stuck with a lot of the youth that they cannot get where they want to go on their own. When I asked which session they enjoyed the most it was a tie between the women and men in power discussions and the most recent session on decision-making.

Going along with networking and decision-making, Kristen Cousins said “I learned you have to have people around you that want to go further. If you see that everyone around you is ok with where they are and you aren’t then that isn’t the crowd for you.” My final question to my fellow summer youth was which speaker impacted them the most. Almost everyone said that Detective Crawford was their favorite. Jeremy Bennett said, “I liked how he told stories instead of lecturing us. He actually made me think.”

Darion Parker

At the Midway Point!

DCRA summer youth are gaining a wide variety of skills.

DCRA summer youth are gaining a wide variety of skills.

The summer youth at DCRA have been enjoying a program and environment that have been very beneficial to the participants. We are now at the halfway point, and many of the youth have developed professional and productive skills that will help them in many of their future career aspirations. Although there are still a few more weeks left to learn something new in the program, many youth feel that they can take the skills that they have learned so far and apply them to their other fields of interest.

Summer youth Lawrence Cross told me that his time here has taught him the importance of being a professional and the benefits that it can bring to him. So far, one of the biggest highlights of the summer program has been the weekly professional development sessions.  I talked to some of the youth to see what they thought about the professional development sessions. They stated that they thought the career fashion show and last week’s sessions with professionals from the law enforcement industry were two of the top so far.

As for filling the expectations of the program, many feel that DCRA has been able to do so, in terms of providing a professional workplace where youth can see, first-hand, the workings of D.C. government.  Some youth did complain of having non-challenging and mundane tasks, but still said that as a whole they are enjoying the program. They also talked of how in the up-coming weeks they expect much of the same that they got in the first of half of the program. With the eventual goal of everyone in the program leaving with a resume, it seems that each youth will be able to add significant substance from their time here at DCRA.

–Willis Bradwell

The Process of Applying to College

You can get free printed catalogs from most colleges and universities simply by requesting them at the school's website or by calling the admissions office.

You can get free printed catalogs from most colleges and universities simply by requesting them at the school's website or by calling the admissions office.

The process of applying to college is one that can be both exciting and nerve-racking. For those who may be starting this process in the fall or some time in the near future, here are a few tips to try and make the process run a little more smoothly. The first thing you should do before you apply to college is have an idea of what you might want to study. This will help you in determining what types of schools you should look at. For example, if you have an interest in studying business, look for schools with a strong business program. You should then compile a list of maybe 10-15 schools that you like. Next, you should research the schools you have an interest in, and see what types of programs and opportunities that they can provide to you. Once you have completed your research on these schools, it should help you to begin to narrow down the list of schools you may want to attend.

If possible, it is best to try and visit any school before you apply. Visiting a school gives you a real first hand experience of what the school and its environment are really like. Although it may be hard to travel to all the schools on your list, I would strongly encourage visiting a school before you apply–especially schools that you have a strong interest in attending. After researching and visiting different schools, you should have a pretty solid idea of the schools that you seriously may want to attend.

The next step in the process is the most time-consuming and possibly the most stressful, the application process. One of the most important things to remember about applying to college is that you may not get accepted to your number one choice. However, if you have done your research and fully looked into the schools you’re applying to, you will end up at a school that is a good fit for you.

The application process is not as simple as many may think it is. There are specific steps and procedures that you need to follow to ensure that your application is good and acceptable. This first thing you need to do before sending out your applications to schools is see which schools take the common application, and which schools require you to fill out their own specific application. The common application gives you list of questions to answer, in addition to two essays that you need to write. This application can be sent to all schools that accept it, and helps expedite the process so that you don’t need to fill out a separate application for each school. However, most schools do require an additional short essay along with the common application. It is important to remember that you are sending your common application to many schools, so try not to mention, or leave the name of a certain school in one of the essays.

Once you have filled out your application comes the most important step in the process, reviewing it for any possible errors. When applying to a school you have to remember that you are just one of thousands of other kids applying to that school. Sending in an application with errors or the wrong format, shows to the admissions staff that you are not serious about attending their school, and it only hurts your chances of acceptance. I personally know of a person who works in an admissions department, and he says whenever he comes across an application with errors on it, he automatically just passes over it and moves on to the next one. When you are responsible for looking over thousands of applications, you are always glad when you can just toss one to the side.

The next idea to help you in your application process is to send in all of your materials at one time. What I mean by this is, don’t send in your SAT scores, then your application, and then your high school transcript and recommendations. Most schools don’t start reviewing your application until they have all of this information anyway, so you should send in everything at once. If you do send it in different parts, it gets put to the side until the offer parts arrive, and that can only lead to them delaying their decision, or even possibly losing part of your application. The final thing you should do when applying to colleges is look for something called an application fee-waiver. Almost all schools require you to send an application fee when applying to their school. These fees can range from between $30-75, but fee waivers are usually pretty easy to obtain, just contact the school and explain your situation to them. Hopefully this article helps in your process of applying to college, and hopefully you end up at the school that is best for you.

–Willis Bradwell

Good to Great: Customer Service

A DCRA employee assists a customer in the Business License Center.

A DCRA employee assists a customer in the Business License Center.

For the past four weeks the summer youth communications team has been working very closely with customer service to create an informative PowerPoint presentation on the difference between good and outstanding customer service. The ‘Good’ section is what’s required of all government officials by the Mayor.  The ‘Outstanding’ section is comprised of ideas from the customer service and communications team. The goal of Outstanding customer service is not only to give the customer what he wants but to also make him feel comfortable enough to call back in the future.

Outstanding customer service goes further with clients because it adds personality to an already tedious process.  Most times, there is a long chain of people that the client must be transferred through just to have someone hear their problem and it helps to know that the person serving them cares.

The team recently wrapped up their PowerPoint presentation and the guide is planned to be used throughout the agency to educate future employees on the way to handle situations with customers via phone, internet and face to face interactions.

–Darion Parker

When It’s More Than Cutting Grass

Summer youth James Johnson trims weeds and over-growth from the fence of District senior citizen Loretta Womack.

Summer youth James Johnson trims weeds and over-growth from the fence of District senior citizen Loretta Womack.

The DCRA summer youth employment program participants are holding positions in most of the agency’s departments.  Each of them works to complete important and worthwhile projects each day, though some require a bit more physical output than others.  The youth in the enforcement department have been especially busy this summer, working in the hot sun (with proper hydration nearby and adequate break periods), but it’s work that each of them says has been really fulfilling—beautifying the lawns of District senior citizens.

Today, Omari Al-Din and James Johnson went out to help brighten the day of some District seniors.  I caught up with them at the home of Mrs. Loretta Womack in Northeast D.C.  James was trimming the ivy and other weeds that were growing along the fence surrounding Mrs. Womack’s property.  Omari was cutting the grass.  I was drenched in sweat within minutes of getting out of the car, and they certainly were, but when I stopped them to ask what it was like doing the work, each of them smiled and started telling me how great it has been.

Omari said, “It feels really good to give back to the community. Some of them [assignments] have been fun.  Especially when a lot of us are out working on a yard.  A few of the ladies even offered us food and drinks while we were working, but we always have our own drinks.”  I was amazed at just how genuine Omari’s response seemed. Never once did he complain about how hot it was.  Instantly, I felt badly about complaining, even if only in my head, about the heat. 

Omari Al-Din gives the lawnmower chain a yank to finish cutting the grass at Mrs. Womack's.

Omari Al-Din gives the lawnmower chain a yank to finish cutting the grass at Mrs. Womack's.

I went inside to ask Mrs. Womack what she thought about what the boys were doing. She told me that she was so shocked that someone would do something that required so much effort in the hot sun; she couldn’t believe that DCRA wasn’t going to charge her.  I laughed and reassured her that we weren’t.  She says just from what she’d seen up to that moment, she’s had people who she’d paid to cut her grass who hadn’t done as good a job as Omari and James were doing.  She says she thought it was a great idea that DCRA was doing something to help them stay out of trouble.  Her husband, who passed away some years ago, used to be a D.C. police officer.

When I went back outside to speak with James, he had only just turned off the grass trimmer he was using a few minutes before.  His face was covered with sweat.  I told him that I wasn’t going to hold him up for long and I only wanted to ask him a couple of questions about his experience beautifying the properties of District senior citizens.  Just as Omari had done, he smiled and without hesitation told me that he was really enjoying the work.  “It’s been very easy for me.  Actually, kind of fun.  It’s always nice to help people.  I want to be a volunteer firefighter, so this has been a great experience,” he finished. 

Mr. William Smith, a member of DCRA’s abatement team, says working with Omari and James and the rest of the young men on the summer youth abatement crew has been like working with his own kids.  He says many of the boys didn’t even know how to cut grass before they started the program and, “now, they are all pretty good,” he smiled like a proud father. 

The District-wide summer youth employment program ends on August 21st.   

–Ms. Kemp