NextGenGov pairs new government leaders with mentors, career tips

Last week, in Washington D.C. a new generation of public workers came together over two days to meet with more senior people in their field and at other agencies to learn from them and gain insider information on how to make the most out of their career. The event, the Next Generation of Government Summit is hosted by GovLoop, “the Facebook for Government,” and included in addition to public workers, a series of speakers from outside government who also shared how they found success.

During the opening keynotes, technologist Andrew Rasiej, Former CIA Director of Intelligence Carmen Medina, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park all discussed how to foster change and innovation in your career regardless of whether you are in the public or private sector. Rasiej ran for NYC Public Advocate in 2005. He explained that he chose to run, not because he thought he could win, (he didn’t) but because he wanted to push for specific ideas. He is still working toward those same ideas today, albeit through different means.

Carmen Medina, in addition to her work at CIA is also an author of a series entitled Corporate Rebel which shows employees working in large organizations how to innovate within their given area. “The good thing about bureaucracy is they make so many rules, they forget them,” she noted speaking on how to take advantage of opportunities for change. Todd Park echoed this point in his speech when he advised young leaders to get buy-in by making their ideas a product of the team rather than the single actions of one person.

Other keynotes included technology leaders like WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, and two-time Olympic medal winner, Adam Nelson. Each conveyed how they were able to achieve success and overcome professional challenges.

At the close of the first day, Mayor Alex B. Morse of Holyoke, Massachusetts described in moving detail how he was able to overcome an entrenched local political establishment to win his seat overseeing the city at the age of 23. Morse is also openly gay, and won by building a coalition of community constituents that had previously been left out of much of the city’s political conversations.

Each day also featured breakout sessions which delved further into the details of career management including how to navigate human resources issues, learning how to write better and use technology more effectively. The event will be held again next year and is officially recognized as an accredited event by the Office of Personnel Management at the federal level. State and local public sector workers are also encouraged to attend and event organizers have created an HR Toolkit to facilitate human resources recognition of attendance at all levels.