AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
An interview with Anita Alpern, distinguished adjunct professor in the School of Public Affairs at The American University and former assistant commissioner of planning and research in the Internal Revenue Service.
Zauderer: Anita, where did you start and conclude your career in government service?
I started my career on August 14, 1942. I retired from the government on June 30, 1979, about thirty-six years later. My first job was as a labor market economic analyst with the Social Security Board and my last job was as the assistant commissioner of planning and research in the IRS.
Z: How did you build your identity as a competent professional?
Well sometimes my superior would say, "We have to coordinate this or we have to pull certain materials together and I need somebody to do this horrible, tedious task." Those of us listening to it knew it was a horrible, tedious task but I would always volunteer to do it.
Z: How did you carry out these tasks?
I would often suggest that, in the presentation of certain information, it would be better if the information were consolidated and presented in a manner that made it more readable. In every agency in which I was employed, reports would have to be made to higher authority, let's say a monthly progress report as to what was going on in the various shops. The reports could be organized by individual sections, or branches, or units, whatever the organizational configuration was; or they could be organized divisionwide with an integration of certain bits and pieces. This helped upper management see the organization as a totality. The executive wasn't interested in knowing that division A did this bit, and division B did that bit. He wanted to know what the total organization did, where we stood, what the nature of the problem was, and what else had to be done. I recognized that need, and frequently I was given all such future assignments.
Z: Would you say that your ability to write, conceptualize, and integrate information was an important factor in your career success?
Very important, very basic. In the first instance, Don, it's a matter of recognizing a need. I never assumed my job was finished just because I completed my segment. I always thought in terms of a total universe. I always had a wider perception, a wider vision if you will, of what it would be like if I were sitting in that chair. What would I need to handle the job effectively?
Z: What enabled you to succeed in your job interviews?
I have been told by any number of people that my professionalism plus my instinctive sense of self-assurance and self-acceptance were extremely effective. Apparently, I spoke and carried myself with a great deal of confidence and self-value. That came across. I never permitted myself to be intimidated. I believed very deeply in my own ability.
I was completely honest and upfront. I would readily admit that I did not possess a …