Advice for New Feds From the Private Sector

Making the switch from private industry to a career in public service is a major decision, and one that can pay off in many ways. To take advantage of all that the federal government has to offer and ensure you’re on your way to a fulfilling career, consider these questions.

  1.  Do you have the skills you need to be successful? How can you develop them?

As you gain experience and explore new roles -- through details or promotions -- and your responsibilities change or increase, you may find yourself in need of new and different skills. The following resources offer free and/or paid opportunities to get the training you need:

  • Management Concepts offers courses on a variety of subjects that are geared toward the public sector.
  • Federal Acquisition Institute offers courses that will assist you in understanding the acquisition process and how to best manage contractors.
  • Partnership for Public Service offers leadership development programs that span from general leadership to a focus on everything from Human Resources to Information Technology.
  1.  Would you benefit from advice or guidance?

The public sector has no shortage of professionals with great experience who are willing to connect.  You can find a mentor or a coach to offer insight and help you shape and maximize the early years of your career.

A mentor can be extremely helpful in navigating the nuances within your agency. This person doesn’t have to be your manager or even be older than you. But this person should have more experience than you in your agency so they can help you sort out challenging situations.

In addition to a mentor, you can sign up to be matched with a coach. OPM offers a variety of coaching resources that aim to help you maximize personal and professional potential.

  1.  Is your current role the right fit for you?

Let’s imagine you’ve been in your role for 6 months and your responsibilities aren’t what you expected. Don’t worry -- you are not stuck. There are options that can help you work your way out of a position that is not a good fit:

  • Consider a 120-day detail, which allows federal employees to work somewhere else for four months. The benefit of a detail is that the departing employee can try something new while the receiving manager gains additional support. If detail listings are not circulated regularly through your agency, consider doing a search on USAJobs.
  • Consider volunteering your time as a way to network and find a new job.

Taking the time to assess your current skills and acting on opportunities to improve will set you on a path to having a fulfilling and rewarding career in public service.


Brian Whittaker is the Chief Technology Officer on the Young Government Leaders National Leadership Team. Brian worked in industry as a federal contractor and consultant for nine years, prior to joining the General Services Administration in June 2016. Brian is currently a program manager in the GSA Centers of Excellence and is overseeing IT modernization efforts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

Posted in Young Gov

Tags: Young Government Leaders

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