2013 NextGen Summit “How to Make the Best of Your Government Career”

How many of us have thought to ourselves as a fairly “new” (anyone hired after the Reagan era) government employee, “What do I do next as a government employee?” Well this entire morning session was packed with participants spanning the walls just to get this and many other questions answered by the presenters, Latonia Page, OPM, Rachel Dorman, OPM and Stacy Mungo, County of Los Angeles. As the speakers introduced themselves, they seemed all prepared to give us the usual presentation. However, they stepped out of the box after finding that their audience wasn’t what they expected. The room was packed with about 95% of participants who were in government less than 5 years and over 80% noted that they came in through one of the Career Pathways programs geared toward hiring current students and recent college grads.

The presenters adequately assessed their audience which was sure to include lots of Millennial and Gen X and decided that instead of a traditional presentation, they would like to hear the urgent questions from them that they need answered.

So just to paraphrase a few of the question (Note: my examples are meant to be funny so LOL):


  1. How do we handle the generational gap within our agencies? (Aka Tom: “I like constant face to face meetings” /Jim “Can’t we just Facebook each other”)
  2. I want to grow and develop but you keep saying no we need you. (Aka “Don’t leave me, we need our workhorse here)
  3. How do I promote my skills without being pushy? (Aka “Stanford gave me a degree for a reason, paper pushing wasn’t it so I want to do more”)
  4. How can I hone in on my transferrable skills and move across job series? (Aka “HELLO “My generation changes jobs several times in their career so help me cultivate that rather than hold me back”)


  1. Respect each other’s stories so keep in mind that each generation has something valuable to give. So do your best to connect with them on their level and you will see it can move you forward and cause less frustration.
  2. Always do your research and provide your supervisor with enough feedback on how this professional development you want to be involved in will benefit them and the organization. Take the time to see how you can strategically make this work in their favor to bring back those valuable skills you will learn.
  3. Take the time to consider what you can learn from those around you and promote their skills. Find a task force or special project within your agency that may help you get noticed by others in the agency that you don’t regularly meet.
  4. Seek out an Executive Sponsor to assist you in navigating your career path. They are similar to a mentor yet very different in their approach. Each participant should seek an ES in their agency that will let you know when good projects are being offered at the senior level. This will allow you to move into projects that match your skills and get you noticed if they go well.

As this session came to a close, I noticed the group was so engaged we had to be kicked out of the room so that the next session could come into the room. I thought to myself I am so happy I was able to blog on a topic the hits so close to home for me. As a Federal employee, looking to transition at some point myself, I was fortunate to hear great tips and answers on how to ensure that I never fall prey to the stagnant government employee. Rather I leave you with my favorite quote from Henry David Thoreau as you figure out where you want to be as you navigate your career. “ Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you have always imagined”

Tyra Stewart

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Avatar photo Emily Jarvis

I find it inspiring that the panel pivoted their presentation to tailor it to the audience. I think that shows the true value of these types of summits, where you can get really personal presentations.