I recently interviewed for a job that is in the technical assistance/non-profit world, client-oriented and one of the questions was along the lines of, "In this job, the environment in entrepreneurial and fast-paced and would be different that what you have encountered in municipal government. How do you think you would handle that?" I thought it was a loaded question and answered as best I could, highlighting in particular program management where I felt I was particularly effective (it was a grant funded program, allowing me much ability to move forward without intense internal politics, and was also one of my roles that was the most enjoyable).
I've been in government for six years now, and in a couple of situations have felt that we emphasize keeping our political masters and upper managers happy over ding challenging, new initiatives. Long term this is not where I want to be and have started to think about the non-profit world, green business, maybe consulting if it ever picks up. I am interested in pursuing the same goals that brought me to planning (sustainability and a love of vibrant urban environments, promoting community health, etc.) I just feel I don't fit into a culture that is primarily regulatory.
In college on the East Coast I was warned not to stay in government for more than 3-5 years, or I would face the kind of question I encountered in this interview.
I would love to be more entrepreneurial but my organization is very cautious, and operates in a highly politicized environment; avoiding controversy is priority one, and besides at least half my time is spent in regulating. In my previous job in a a smaller city, community staff was actually told be be quiet and not offer our expertise at meetings, resulting in some pretty poor choices, or rather endless talk, among elected and appointed officials while pretty much maintaining the status quo.
Any advice on:
1.) will I continue to face the feeling that a government worker cannot be "entrepreneurial," and will it only get worse over time? Is it time to bail now, go get a 'green' MBA, or do something else?
2.) opportunities to develop 'entrepreneurial' skills in the public sector - what I mean by this is implementing new and innovative programs, policies that make a difference the community's future.