OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Jay Mullis, manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, recently spoke to local high school juniors and seniors about a wide range of topics, including leadership, career planning, and the complex federal budgeting process.
Mullis provided insight about the federal government to students participating in the Youth Leadership Oak Ridge program. Previous sessions, led by Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch and Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, focused on lessons from local and state government.
During the three-hour program at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, Mullis began with stories of choosing his electrical engineering major and the unpredictability and evolution of his career.
Through a question-and-answer period, the students learned more about the EM mission in Oak Ridge, the different opportunity paths for an engineer, and the many steps and considerations required to pass a budget.
“It was really encouraging getting to meet and interact with local students who are already working and planning for their future,” Mullis said. “They asked great questions, and I’m looking forward to the new leaders this program is helping mold.”
Much of the interest centered on jobs. Mullis took the opportunity to highlight the diverse skills needed to perform the environmental cleanup mission in Oak Ridge. He noted employees in his organization have backgrounds ranging from master’s degrees in economics and MBAs to engineering, communication, law, project management, and vocational training.
“The discussion opened my mind to the different jobs here,” said junior Steven Qu.
To emphasize the difficulty of finalizing a federal budget, the students ended the session with a timed exercise requiring them to collectively prioritize and agree on the ranking of 15 topics to pass their budget.
“Today showed how hard, but necessary, compromise can be,” said senior Chloe Nussbaum. “We also realized the demands and time pressures involved with getting a budget approved.”
Youth Leadership Oak Ridge is comprised of 25 high school juniors and seniors from Oak Ridge High School, with the goal of teaching students valuable lessons and traits from leaders in business, government, and the community.