Up & Comers is FedScoop’s regular feature profiling young feds excelling in federal IT.
Mindy Chiat, 29, @mchiat
Program Manager for the Integrated Student Experience project, Office of Federal Student Aid, Education Department
When Mindy Chiat joined the Education Department in 2006 as an intern, the federal student aid process was spread across 14 different websites. Now, Chiat leads the office’s integrated student experience project that works to combine all of those options into one.
“Through the internship, I ended up staying on throughout the year and then ended up getting hired,” Chiat said in an interview with FedScoop. “Along the way, I’ve been doing just different projects, but a lot of them IT projects. [I] originally worked on developing the college.gov website, and now I am managing our studentaid.gov, which is part of a project we call the integrated student experience.”
When Chiat began working on ISE, the effort had little to no funding. Despite seeking backing for the initiative, the project remained unfunded. But with the encouragement of a supervisor, Chiat moved some in-house resources to make the project happen.
“I first tackled it just as I thought I should be begging for money and funding, and that really wasn’t working out very well because budgets are very tight around here,” Chiat said. “There was really just one point a few months in where my supervisor said, ‘We have to be creative here, now what else can we do?'”
Two developers in the office’s technology department began work on creating a website while some of the office’s writers began working on content. Chiat justified the process to the finance office by explaining the cost-savings that an integrated website experience would bring.
Chiat said despite the negative stereotype that comes with the word “millennial,” the work of the generation can speak for itself.
“I think our place can be just as important as anyone else’s place in the federal space,” Chiat said. “I think that from what I’ve seen, it’s people of all ages. It doesn’t really matter what your position is, if you’re ready to work hard, they’ll come together.”
Nicole Callahan, one of Chiat’s colleagues and one of FedScoop’s Top 25 under 40, said Chiat is modest in taking responsibility for the progress of ISE.
“She keeps a super low profile and will never take the credit, but she is really the woman behind it all,” Callahan said. “She started here as an intern and in a short amount of time has risen to lead one of our organization’s largest projects.”
Recommend a young fed who you believes to be a FedScoop Up & Comer.