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Innovation within the Public Sector: 5 Ways to Expand Your Skill-Set

The public sector is full of opportunities for innovation, mentorship and programs to expand your skills. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, the opportunities to grow are endless. Often times, we get caught up in the day-to-day hustle confined to our respective cubicles, which makes it harder to take advantage of such opportunities. Pay attention to those emails, webinars and invitations to conferences. Thinking of an idea or career path? The trajectory to your dream career may just begin by paying attention to the opportunities lying in your inbox.

Here are five ways you can gain exposure and expand your skill-set:

1. Pitch yourself: Pitch yourself and your ideas to your department, or an organization within your department. This will allow you to get involved in things your passionate about and can be critical in gearing your career in the right direction.

2. Be vocal about your career aspirations: Openly speak about your career goals with your supervisors and mentors. The more vocal you are about your goals, the more on someone’s radar you will be about specific opportunities. It’s all about networking and allocating your time to things that matter most.

3. Participate in a public speaking engagement: Federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have events such as [email protected], where you can nominate yourself or one of your peers to present. Presenting your work or an idea you wish to develop is the best way to start specializing and moving your expertise forward. Lookout for opportunities within your organization to present your work.

4. Blog: Most government agencies and departments have their own blogs. Ask to contribute to your organization’s blog. Producing quality content on the world-wide web is one of the best ways to gain exposure. Below are some examples of blogs associated with government agencies

Public Health Matters Blog: CDC

DIPNOTE: U.S Department of State Official Blog

Homeroom: The official blog of the U.S Department of Education

5.Find and enter challenges/contests: Agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) runs programs for innovation. HHS runs IDEA Lab based on the four tenants of Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship and Action. IDEA was established by Secretary Sebelius to encourage innovation within the public sector. Programs such as HHS Ignite, HHS Entrepreneurship and HHS Innovates are contests celebrating innovative ideas that provide creative, replicable and sustainable solutions to problems affecting the public sector.

Teams can submit project proposals and are eligible for funding if selected. In addition, selected teams will get feedback from top HHS professionals to develop their idea. IDEA Lab serves as a platform where government employees across various agencies can collaborate to find innovative ways to solve problems and bridge the gaps between new and old ways of solving issues affecting the public sector. More contests and challenges can be found at challenge.gov.

Finding the right opportunity entails pitching, being able to articulate your needs and getting out of your comfort zone. The opportunities for innovation are endless in the public sector. No matter what level of expertise you have or may want to acquire, there is an opportunity for you to grow. Enter that contest, give that presentation and pitch that idea because the public sector needs all the insight you have to offer.

Priyanka R. Oza is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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