Meet the Finalist:
Who: NextGen Network at Census
Achievement: NextGen Public Service Award Finalist, Exemplary Group Category
“The NextGen Network at Census is an affinity group is geared towards generations X and Y at the U.S. Census Bureau. The group plays a vital role in career development, professional networking and mentoring. Events such as speed networking and federal resume-writing workshop provided essential tools for employee’s professional toolkit. The group has been instrumental in the development and promotion of the annual Census Diversity and Inclusion Institute. In addition, the organization has successfully collaborated with various affinity groups such as Toastmasters International, the Rainbow Alliance, Federally Employed Women, and the Census Latino Employee Organization.” – Kiyona Miah, External Affairs Lead at the Census Bureau. Miah nominated the NextGen at Census group for the Exemplary Group Category.
A Pew Internet survey shows baby boomers are retiring from government in droves, making training the next generation of government employees even more essential. But unfortunately, there are very few organizations or groups geared towards moving young govies into leadership positions. But an organization at the U.S. Census Bureau is aiming to change that.
Established in 2011, the NextGen at Census Group is one of the few organizations really pushing for millennials’ development and growth. The group was actually formed after its founders attended the 2010 Next Generation of Government Training Summit and were inspired. One of the leaders of the organization is Kiyona Miah.
“We are forward thinking, we’re innovative, we like to try to help bridge silos across the organization. We like to give opportunities for our employees to grow professionally through training opportunities and also through networking events,” said Miah.
In just three years, the group has grown to have more than 100 members. One of the reasons for their quick success? A push for collaboration.
“The way that we [millennials] grew up a lot of our education was structured in a way that we had no choice but to collaborate,” Miah explained. We are also the generation that came at of the beginning of the technological age so it’s natural for us to leverage technology to communicate better and to work together .”
A main priority for the group is to break down silos that are currently in government. “A lot a times people come into a government job and they’re put into a box,” said Miah. “’You are an analyst; this is the only job you can do.’ NextGen at Census is trying to stop that. We want people to be able to explore other skillsets, or utilize other skillsets that they may not have been hired for, but that help our organization.”
One of the ways the group is helping to bridge the age gap is by creating what they refer to as “millennial consultants.” “One of the things that our executive champion ,Stephen Buckner ,encourages is the idea of serving as “millennial consultants’. Basically, if there are technological innovations, initiatives, or advancements that are millennial-native, we offer ourselves as consultants to the Census. For instance, we’ve tested some of the mobile apps that Census has put out, and given feedback.”
Wanting to create a summit similar to NextGen, the Census group hosted their own Leadership Training Summit in April of 2014 for over 400 participants. “It was really just an awesome opportunity for people to take advantage of a full day of training,” Miah said. “The participants were able to get training credit and the managers were able to get management credit. We worked with our offices such as Workforce Development, Census Conference Center, Communications, and Diversity and Inclusion to ensure that the event is a success. I think that’s a great example of how the NextGen summit is really inspiring a lot of work around government, but it also just shows how collaboration with various offices really can help get the job done.”