Nora Yates doesn’t second-guess leaving the private sector and is encouraging more people to try her path.
The 35-year-old Schenectady resident was one of nine people picked from more than 900 applicants to be the first-ever class of Empire State Fellows in 2012. Created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, the program offers jobs in the state government to create a new generation of leaders.
Applications can be submitted until April 12 for the second class of Empire Fellows.
“It’s a great growth opportunity,” said Yates, who was placed in the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Before that, she was the executive director for the Pride Agenda of the Capital Region.
Her role at OASAS has allowed her to explore various angles of state government. A day can include looking at federal block grants to preparing the agency’s commissioner for a meeting on the impacts of the sequester.
Because this was the first class of fellows, Yates didn’t know what to expect, but the opportunity to jump into the higher echelon of a state agency was something she couldn’t pass up. “Those things don’t come around that often,” she said.
Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said in a statement that he was pleased with the first class. “We hope to attract another stellar class this year comprised of individuals who truly want to make a difference in New York,” he said.
The program is attractive partly because of the access fellows get. At the same time, though, the fellows are also learning a lot about how state government works.
In the fall of 2014, Yates will look for her next job, which she hopes will be in state government. “It’s all up in the air at this point,” she said. “I’m trying to learn everything that is out there.”
Her own background at the Pride Center and at Empire State Pride Agenda had provided some knowledge of state government, but she said that people unfamiliar with state government should apply, too. She noted that one of the fellows from her class was in finance.
Applicants for the new class need to submit a cover letter, résumé, personal statement and two letters of recommendation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the new class of Empire Fellows at www.dos.ny.gov/newnyleaders/fellows-qualifications.html.