The Bridge Fellowship Program, or Bridge, is a multi-week program where participants are challenged by not only classroom learning, group projects and presentations, but also participate in interviews and site visits to explore King County agencies and their priorities.
By stretching themselves to grow up and out, participants gain the skills needed to see the bigger picture. Bridge teaches employees who are considered “emerging leaders” to tackle issues head on and create future successes from current challenges. It’s a lesson past participants have taken to heart.
Linda Morales, currently a RideShare Coordinator in the Department of Transportation, is a 2016 Bridge graduate. She explains how the experience helped her transition into this new role.
“I re-discovered who I have always been, a people leader with a passion for helping others reach their full potential,” she said. “I know and understand King County as a whole. I see the big picture.”
“I am able to connect the dots for many process improvements and use phrases like ‘tell me more’ to help in the art of working together across departments,” she added.
Building on these skills to expand their career is one positive outcome for Bridge graduates. It’s part of an intense program schedule that keeps participants on their toes. Divided into separate groups, each one is tasked with a question to answer, and must develop insightful, creative solutions to the problem. After several months, these group projects culminate in a formal presentation.
In the 2016 Bridge program, participants were asked to answer the question “How might we improve the opportunities for professional growth and development for employees in King County?” From mobile trainings to online profiles to a community of learners, the groups outlined various methods to engage employees and management in identifying opportunities for professional growth.
Presenters utilized PowerPoint, skits, visual display boards and audience participation to interact with the 30 plus members of the Human Resources Division who attended the formal presentation. This helped to reinforce the importance of employee development, and the passion with which Bridge participants have in sharing their experience with others.
Another excellent benefit of the Bridge program is the potential impact it can have on personal lives. Sean Douglas, a Technical Supervisor with the KCIT Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network, is also a 2016 Bridge graduate. He shares how Bridge changed his life at work, but also at home, allowing him to connect more deeply with his loved ones.
“I was able to look deep inside myself, find who I was, who I wasn’t and who I needed to be to succeed in a career at King County while delivering top notch services to the community we serve,” he said.
“And on a personal level, I believe it has also helped in building stronger relationships with family and friends. They noticed a difference in me.”
Relying on strong instructors and facilitators to bring participants together in learning several different topics and themes, the program uses classroom, online and project-based learning, as well as peer coaching and development planning, to focus on the following areas: strengthening communication skills, learning to leading from where you are, exploring the art of public speaking, crafting a professional development plan, expanding individual growth and potential, understanding King County and its operations, and exploring the County’s approach to Continuous Improvement.
Bridge participants are encouraged to focus on specific issues, and dive deep into the meaning and purpose of each activity, often prompting surprising discussions.
The Bridge Fellowship Program will be taking place again this year. Application information is currently available at www.kingcounty.gov/Bridge. Read on to hear more from these Bridge graduates.
Sean Douglas, Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network Technical Supervisor, KCIT
I started at the King County Radio Shop 22 years ago and I have worked my way up through various positions to my current role. I have enjoyed the many opportunities that working for King County has provided for me. The Bridge Fellowship Program was offering the challenge that I was missing in my day-to-day work though so I knew I had to apply. It was just what I needed to jumpstart my career and take it to the next level.
I was able to look deep inside myself, find who I was, who I wasn’t and who I needed to be to succeed in a career at King County while delivering top notch services to the community we serve.
If you’re interested in gaining professional development skills, in the words of Nike, “Just Do It.” There are so many opportunities to serve at King County, but I didn’t know how to gain the skills and knowledge needed for those positions. The Bridge Fellowship was the answer to many of the questions I had.
In the future I plan to leverage my Bridge experience to expand my knowledge and learning, and use that to grow my career here at King County.
Linda Morales, RideShare Coordinator, Department of Transportation
I came to King County first through the Department of Community and Human Services in 2005 then moved to King County Public Health before starting in my current role. I have enjoyed participating in opportunities for growth and development in my ten years with the County. I was looking for a new challenge and a way to sharpen my current leadership skills and add some new ones when I applied to Bridge. I did not know that it would be one of the most exciting leadership programs I have experienced. I definitely was out of my comfort zone, went into the groan zone and sometimes entered the panic zone. I was challenged by others and myself.
You have to truly believe in making the impossible possible, and be persistent and have the willingness to go beyond where others will stop!
I look forward to continuing my journey of making King County the best-run government and am very grateful to King County for all the opportunities it has given me.
I will work hard to give back to the County and utilize the many skills I have acquired through the Bridge Fellowship.
The King County Bridge Fellowship Program is a professional development program that engages, challenges, inspires and cultivates diverse and individual contributors through leadership development. For more information about the program, and how to apply, visit www.kingcounty.gov/Bridge.