10 Tips for Advancing Your Government Career

Published in CareersConnect, August 2011

By Heather Kerrigan

With budget shortfalls, layoffs and hiring freezes, it can be all too easy for public employees to focus on the negative. But for two days in July, approximately 500 local, state and federal leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., to focus on the positive -- how to accomplish more in their government careers.

The Next Generation of Government Summit, presented by GovLoop and Young Government Leaders, attracted many of the public sector's emerging leaders, along with their seasoned counterparts. This year's conference -- nearly double the size of last year's event -- focused on removing barriers and fears young employees often face on their way to becoming government leaders. The most resonant message? Don't let age define you. Be an innovator and speak up when you have valuable ideas or information to offer. Don't let age define those around you either. Look to experienced employees who have dealt with their own professional challenges and can help guide you on your career path.

One lunch keynote in particular, "Digital Government: Me, My Career, and My Future," helped me compile a few takeaways that will help prepare early-career professionals (and their supervisors) for successful careers in the public sector. In his speech, The Mejorando Group's Patrick Ibarra spoke about developing leadership skills at a time when the only thing that is definite in government is change and uncertainty. 

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