Q&A with Caitlin B., Acting Chief of NSA’s External Recruitment Marketing, Outreach and Testing Organization
Below is an article originally written by the National Security Agency (NSA), a PowerToFly Partner. Go to NSA's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Name: Caitlin B.
Title & Company: Acting Chief of National Security Agency's External Recruitment Marketing, Outreach and Testing Organization (NSA)
Q. How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
A. I've been in the acting chief role for about 10 months, but I have been in a leadership role in external recruitment about 2.5 years. Prior to this, I worked in a program management capacity where I supported the Intelligence Community (IC) in building software as a service, which for those not in the IC is what a consumer would associate with an App store. We also built software as a service to make certain Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) tools easily accessible to developers in the IC.
Q. What's the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
A. I'll go with the first thing because that's typically constant: once I get to work I check in with my team to say good morning, see how everyone is doing and what they have going on … of course with a coffee or green smoothie. After that I drop off the many bags I'm carrying as I walk into my building.
Q. What's the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?
A. I have the opportunity to find new and dynamic ways to attract talent to what is one of the coolest agencies in the government. Most recently, we've participated in what I consider out-of-the box/non-traditional recruitment events. For one particular event, ShmooCon, we made a poster to send with one of our senior leaders to set up a mobile NSA charging station. The thing went viral on a ton of websites; it was cool to be a part of seeing that project through. And last year, one of our vendors at an event thought it would be hilarious to label our box of marketing materials "NSA … Yes, That NSA" as a joke. We took the sign they made and kept it at our table for the duration of the event.
Something people don't know about NSA is that we fall under both the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, which means our employees support missions that protect our service members and produces intel that helps our partners.
What is also unique is we do that in an environment that demands stringent security protocols, so I must use a badge to even get on the NSA compound. Some may find that intimidating, but really it gives me a sense of security knowing that our police are keeping us safe.
Q. What's something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don't know about your company that you think they should?
A. I love this fun fact: We are the nation's largest employer of mathematicians (but we HIRE more than just STEM talent). STEM is certainly top proportionately to our overall hiring, but we need a wide range of expertise at NSA. We operate at the level of a fortune 100 company ... imagine what that skill mix looks like?
Q. What's something you're especially good at, at work?
A. I am THE BEST at saying no to food that is sitting out and around the office. No, really, I can resist food better than anyone. Cookies, pizza, cake, etc., I won't cave. In fact, my team knows not to bring me cake for my birthday (I won't eat it). Except, Hershey Kisses. I don't know why, but I can't resist Hershey Kisses at work and yes, just at work.
Q. What about outside of work?
A. I'm a mom of three, so had you asked me this 4 years ago my answer would be different. Since becoming a mom with three children 4 years old and under, I've naturally re-prioritized my outside-of-work activities. Basically, I have minimal time to be especially good at things these days, except exercise. And any opportunity or sunny day I get, I like to drive my racecar, without my kids – I'm good at that, ask any of my friends. I am also especially good at keeping my household structured and organized in terms of tidiness, organization and meal prepping/planning for the week. Seriously, organization, especially with three kids and working full-time is necessary but definitely not as much fun as driving a racecar.
Q. What are you trying to improve on?
A. A little bit of everything to be honest … I tend to overfill my plate almost always with both work and home. I am trying to slow down, pay closer attention to details and re-focus when I find myself distracted and say no … which is incredibly hard for me.
Q. What's your favorite mistake?
A. Seriously? Are you baiting me?
Q. What's the one career move you've made that you're most proud of?
A. My undergrad is a BA, and I started my career doing more liberal artsy sorts of things. I remember going on a trip for work with colleagues who were very technical by trait, and someone referred to me as just "HR" or something to that effect. That situation actually fueled my fire to go back and get an MS in Information Systems. I learned a lot getting my master's. I was exposed to curriculum and training completely out of my comfort zone, as well as to people who were not like me at all, which gave me a different appreciation and respect for the benefits of diversity of background/diversity of thought. Professionally, getting my master's postured me for the subsequent positions in my career! I think this also helped me balance my strengths. Being able to understand concepts at a technical level and to also have my finger on the pulse of how an organization runs makes me a more well-rounded leader.
Q. What do you love most about your job or your company?
A. I truly LOVE my job; I love that I can influence how we market careers at NSA because it is such an amazing place to work with a unique mission that you literally CANNOT do anywhere else. I love that I am able to build the national recruitment strategy with my team and pitch it to NSA leaders as the subject matter expert. I have the autonomy to be creative when it comes to pitching and executing new ideas. I love looking at analytics associated with our marketing, advertising, website, hiring, etc., as pieces influencing the rationale of building the strategy. I love meeting with internal stakeholders to discuss their obstacles and craft niche strategies supporting very important missions. I love speaking with college students about career opportunities with NSA, and I love that I get to build relationships with stakeholders both internal and external to the agency. But honestly, I get to work with the best team, so going to work every day I know there will be lots of hard work and lots of laughs … and some Hershey Kisses.
Q. What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
A. One of my senior leaders let me borrow a book called "Crucial Accountability." I have three kids ... so it's taking me a while to get through it.
Q. What's your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
A. "Get your mind right, and tell yourself you can do it," which is something one of my Insanity instructors always says before he challenges me. Forget about the competition you're up against for a job and focus on you and what you bring to the table. No one does you better than YOU; sell that.
Q. Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?
A. When I read this question, I knew my answer right away; my daughter. She's 4 going on 24 and she's just the most influential and inspirational young lady in my life. She has this air of confidence that she doesn't even realize. She is so strong and independent; it's such a beautiful and admirable thing for a mother to see these characteristics in her child because it will only be to her benefit later in life. It's interesting because now when I watch her attempt something, whether it's learning a new technique at swim lessons or even zipping up her jacket and she says, "I can't," I give her this look like "try again." She'll grumble for a few seconds, but eventually she'll try and will grasp whatever she's attempting.
Q. What's the most memorable piece of career advice you've received?
A. Don't be a superhero when it comes to work because work will always be there. There used to be times where I'd fly West for some work function, hop back on the red eye back to the East Coast and head into work. I knew I was asking too much of my body and that the pace couldn't last, but I literally couldn't wait to get back to work. I don't always practice this methodology, but I do have to remind myself that I am human and to listen to my body cues more often. You know when your energy tank is running low, it's hard to give anything your all, so take care of yourself. And when all else fails, #coffeeismymagicelixir.
💎 How to build trust in your team? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 How should you work to build trust in your team? Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Veronica Setzke, Senior Director of People Ops at Pax8, who shares tips and tricks she learned through years of coaching.
📼 How to build trust with peers in your team? Tip #1: Relationships. There's no better way to start forming relationships than having regular one-on-ones. It doesn't have to just be with your supervisor. It can be with your coworkers. It can be with those people that you collaborate regularly with. And it's really important in these one-on-ones that we're spending time listening. Take the time to be present and listen. Also, spend time together not working. Have lunch together. Go for coffee. Take a five-minute walk around the building and just have a conversation. Relations are a key element to trust!
📼 How to build trust? Open yourself in your team Tip #2: Vulnerability. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Ask for feedback, whether it's feedback about a project, a process, or even maybe a leadership behavior that you're trying to master. This allows those on your team and those around you to see you as willing to be vulnerable. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. It doesn't mean that you’re weak, but rather that you’re open. It allows your team to understand that it's a safe place for them to also be vulnerable.
How To Share To Build Trust In Your Team - Tip #3: Clear Is Kind
Keep the team informed and say as much as you can about what you know. There are times that we hold information that could be shared. We could share that information that impacts others' work and have them have the opportunity to use that to do better. If you've learned something that could help your colleague make a better decision, share that! Try to ensure that your communication with others is clear. When you make the effort to be clear about your intentions, your work, and your roadblocks, it opens others up to do the same.
📨 Are you interested in joining Pax8? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Veronica Setzke
She works as a People professional because she sincerely believes that people want to be excellent, and it is her role to help move the obstacles to their achieving success. She believes the employees deserve a culture that values their work and will respond to such a culture by creating amazing results. If you are interested in a career at Pax8, you can connect with Veronica on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Pax8
The company simplifies the way organizations buy, sell, and manage cloud solutions, empowering its partners to achieve more with cloud technology. At Pax8, they know that they are only as great as their people. They realize that every individual has unique personal and professional aspirations, which is why they strive to offer a complete and competitive Total Rewards offering for their members and family.
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.