Job: State Policy Analyst, Governor's Office of Planning and Budgeting
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Remi and I were connected through a college friend of mine, Nick, who I will actually interview later this year. Nick reached out to me a couple of months ago and told me about his friend that would be a wonderful addition to the blog and after chatting with Remi for only half an hour, I couldn't agree more. Check out Remi's story now and find out how his plan to go to law school shifted into a career in public policy, which has provided him with a greater sense of impact in his community.
Tell us about your background.
I'm a Georgia boy and grew up on the Northside of Atlanta. I studied at Georgia Southern University and transferred to Georgia State University after my second year. At the time, I had every intention of going to law school and knew that I had to get myself out there and network. I didn’t leave because of my dislike of Statesboro, though it was there, but rather, I didn’t feel like I could do that networking in Statesboro. That is what led me to transfer and brought me to Atlanta. I graduated with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice in 2015 and I had planned to go to law school the following fall.
My first job out of school was working at Dekalb County Magistrate Court. I got to work with magistrate judges in the criminal warrant division, which I thought was pretty cool. I got to see what they did and came to the realization that what I really wanted was to impact entire communities, especially underprivileged ones whose laws and policies were not necessarily fair to them. During that first year out of school, I started researching public policy and began to see how public policy ties into civil liberties, health care, education, and so many other things that influence how society runs. I decided not to go to law school, but instead, pursue my masters in public policy. Everything in policy influences law, so I thought that if I could become an expert in policy, then I would be able to influence communities, which was my initial goal. I thought I could achieve that by being a lawyer, but I feel lucky to have found public policy; all I had to do was realign my goals and I have not regretted my decision sense.
I can’t imagine jumping from your long-time goal of being a lawyer was easy. Can you talk more about what that process looked like for you?
You don’t really hear about public policy careers. You grow up and you’re told to be either a doctor, a business person, a fireman, or a police officer. As you get older, you kind of realize that those in-between jobs that you don't hear about as much, like policy, really can be very lucrative and end up being more for you compared to the ones you have just known about your whole life from TV or in school.
I am glad I researched public policy before jumping into law school for many reasons. If you have a genuine passion for practicing law, then that’s great, but for me personally in my search, I felt like shaping communities and laws was a little bit better than sitting in courtrooms listening to cases. I ended up getting accepted into my grad program at Georgia State in the fall of 2016 and started in the spring of 2017. I am one of those people who does school because I have to, not because I like it, so I finished the program as fast as I could within a year and then moved on to working.
Tell us about what you are doing today and what your day-to-day looks like.
Currently I am working as a policy analyst in the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, which is the non-partisan fiscal arm of government that oversees the state budget and appropriations for the state of Georgia. So by that, I mean I deal with all of the executive-branch state agency programs and it is my job to ensure there is budgetary compliance within them. Specifically, I work in the physical and economic development division, so I am the liaison between my assigned state agencies and the in-house expert on how much money they're making and how these agencies are spending money to better align with the state's goals or governmental goals.
What does your individual trajectory look like in this field?
I got into the field because I wanted to make a difference, like so many people have before me, and for now, I want to continue helping others in our community and be an advocate for civil liberties. Looking forward, I also would like to continue being an education, health care, and social advocate, and just be able to be that policy professional or possibly elected official one day and be that voice for the people. Ultimately, I'd like to use my knowledge and understanding of how policy practices work to make things happen. ***When he's famous one day, The YoPro Know knew him first.
How does your age play a role at work?
This is sort of a double-edged sword because in my previous role, my age definitely played a major role. In my current job, work does an amazing job of hiring young professionals. There are obviously some executives, but for the most part, there are a lot of people my age, mostly ranging from 23 to 28, which I think defines the culture. Overall, there is a lot of parity and generally a lot of young people who are getting the job done. It is motivating for me working here because my peers all want to work really hard, so that pushes me.
The flip side to this is that I had a different experience with age in my previous role with city council. They had a little more of an old school system, like, you put the time and years in to get to where you want to be many years down the road. I feel like in our generation, as millennials, we don’t really fit that mold anymore like our parents did. Their generation would work somewhere for twenty-plus years and be experts and want to do that kind of thing forever. For us, however, we think we’ll have one job for three to five years, learn all we can, and then go somewhere else to grow with the next higher-level position. I think a lot of this is because we are more cognizant of our worth and we know that we can work for us, not the actual job that we are at. We want to better ourselves. Speaking of bettering ourselves, our generation is really huge on making a difference, so being in public service and working in government is an amazing thing to be a part of. Being so young, I know there is only room to grow and I am excited about that.
What about things outside of work? What do you do for fun?
I love working out and I love eating out as well, so I'm a bit of a foodie. I’m a big movie person, like traditional movies. Netflix movies are cool, but I’d rather go to the actual theater and get some soda and popcorn. I am also getting married on February 29, 2020, so wedding plans have certainly kept my fiancé and I busy. We met in ninth grade, but didn’t start dating until senior prom. I like to say that we made it through the most tumultuous part of our 20s, so now we are just cruising. She is currently completing her masters of public health and is working on her practicum.
Tell me about somebody who has inspired you.
Aside from President Obama, my dad is a major influence in my life and I would name him my number one role model. He grew up in the Bahamas, graduated from high school at the age of 16, went to school in London, and then came to America where he met my mom. He ended up starting his own business and now he is an account executive at a Fortune 500 company, so he has had an amazing career. I admire his progression in life and how he has remained true to himself, all while raising five boys. Both he and my mom have showed us what it means to be strong parents, and after dealing with five of us, I'd say he is pretty inspiring!
So we know you like movies, but are you a podcast or a book guy?
I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts, but I do listen to audio books. One I would recommend is Born A Crime by Trevor Noah, which I recently just finished. I found it was a great book about his life, filled with different short stories where he shares how they shaped who he is and how similar societal structures can be. One of his messages is that you really can start from the bottom and make it to the top; it comes down to your work ethic and situations. They are some really great stories, so I would definitely recommend it.
What would you say to an experienced professional in a different generation about what young professionals want and need to succeed?
I would tell them the quote, "being realistic is the easiest way to mediocrity." Young people are dreamers and we like to dream big and achieve the most. Sometimes, people tell us to pump the brakes and slow down. I don’t think that’s fair because if you are realistic and hold down your dreams, that is only making you an average person. Your dreams and aspirations are yours; no else should be able to tell you what to do with them. You need to protect what your dreams are and never allow anyone else to steal that away from you. For young professionals, especially when you are probably the youngest person in the room, you may already feel less qualified. Regardless of this, you should never allow anyone else to make you think realistically of what you should do with your life. That is for you to decide.
The YoPro Know's Takeaways:
– Our generation is more cognizant of our own worth and we know that we can work for us, not the physical job that we have
-"Being realistic is the easiest way to mediocrity"
– As millennials, we don’t really fit the mold anymore like our parents did, where they worked somewhere for twenty-plus years, became experts, and stayed there forever
– For millennials, we all think we’ll have one job for three to five years, learn all we can, and then go somewhere else to grow with the next higher-level position
Check it out: Georgia State University, Public Management and Policy, Born A Crime by Trevor Noah