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Cultivating Connecticut Talent

State Recruitment Associates Balancing Work and Life

Nasreen Mustafa and Faith MacDonald work for the State of Connecticut as Recruitment Trainees (Leadership Associates). In this role, they create job postings, screen, refer, and recommend candidates for employment, and help develop innovative ideas to close sourcing gaps. And on top of it all … they enjoy a great work/life balance.


What attracted you to working for the state?


The impact I’m making means a lot to me. In the public sector I’m able to give job opportunities to members of the community on a much larger scale than in the private sector. Not to mention I’m receiving strong, hands-on mentorship in the public sector. So many of my coworkers have been working with the state for 20+ years; I’m constantly learning more about recruitment styles, benefit structures, and I feel like I’m learning from the best. Even through remote work, my team still feels collaborative over video chat.


The thing that really attracted me to my position was the quality training provided – I can’t speak highly enough of the program. While there are many differences between the public and private sectors, I think the most important part about State employment is that the main goal is to serve the public as opposed to being profitable. One of my passions is helping people reach their goals, so I’m happy to have the opportunity to do that in this role. Back in 2012 my Father became a Maintainer for the State within the Department of Transportation and the health insurance benefits provided my family with great security. I like to think that I’m helping others do that for their families as well. 

Plus, there are so many cool jobs people don’t even know about like Human Rights and Opportunities Trainee and Veteran Services Officer. These positions make a real impact on our neighbors and friends lives and I’m proud to be a part of the process.


What does a day in the life look like for you?


I’m able to stay on my fitness routine and usually start my day at a small gym where the staff knows me. And after work I’ve been able to spend time with family and friends. I’m a foodie, so I’ll often pick up food from a local restaurant; I like to try all different types of cuisine, and I’m a big fan of Restaurant Week in Stamford. I’m also involved in the Asian American Coalition Center through UConn, volunteered with Junior Achievement for financial literacy, and in the summer, I’m in a volleyball league, so you can find me doing that after work as well.


I also start my day at the gym before logging on. Unlike the long hours you find working in the private sector, I finish my workday at 4:30pm, giving me time to unwind and give back. I’ve volunteered at Master’s Mana Food Pantry & Resource Center in Wallingford and am training to be a financial literacy volunteer for CT Money School. Then I try to relax and enjoy spending evenings with my friends and family while finding personal time to read and catch up on new shows.


Do you think there are benefits for millennials choosing to live and work in Connecticut?


Young people have great opportunities to work right alongside seasoned professionals and learn so much from them. They’ll find a strong support system of people who truly want to help them succeed. Outside of work, there’s the opportunity to be a homeowner at a younger age than in the big city. I spent time living in New York City where having my own place didn’t seem possible.


I agree, in Connecticut you can choose to live in a suburb and own property, while still being close to cities both in and outside the state. Everything is driving distance here which allows you to explore more. You can easily get around, find favorites, and return again and again. It’s ideal for a good work/life balance.


Are there any myths about Connecticut you’d like to bust?


I think people think Connecticut is boring, which is kind of silly. I mean do you even like pizza? [laughs] But really, the seasons are great; the fall is beautiful. And there’s a ton of restaurants and bars in New Haven and West Hartford. I’m biased to Wallingford; there’s a cool BYOB place called Half Moon and I love Michael’s Trattoria – good stuff.


I think there’s a misconception that there’s nothing to do in Connecticut. But no matter what you’re interested in, you can find go-to spots that make it home for you. When talking with young professionals about moving to the state, I always ask, “what are you interested in?” They’re usually pleasantly surprised to learn that their favorite things can be found right in Connecticut.


What are your favorite things about your Connecticut life?


My favorite thing here is enjoying the outdoors! I love hiking and biking on the Quinnipiac Trail, the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, and Giuffrida Park in Meriden. New Haven’s also great, especially for walking around the city and visiting spots like the Yale Art Gallery. Plus, the state itself isn’t that big, so you can pack a lot into a small amount of time.


Living in Connecticut has allowed me be on a career path that excites me, and own a single-family home. I love to invite people to my place and start my own traditions.

See the action behind the passion.

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