All eyes in D.C. may be on the looming presidential election, but tucked inside a Marriott in downtown D.C., a conference of entrepreneurs and policy wonks are aiming to shape the next generation of Washington's movers and shakers.
It's called the Next Generation Government Training Summit, and it's the hottest thing to hit the nation's capital since Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. For two hot days, some of the brightest young minds in business, government, media and tech will come together to brainstorm, swap tips, exchange digits and hopefully be on the track to become America's next top senator, congressman, reporter, and tech genius.
With hundreds of people in attendance, it's more than enough to push even the most experienced event planner to the limit, but according to Megan Price, event spokeswoman and manager for GovLoop, the organizers are more than prepared.
"As we plan for our third Next Generation of Government Training Summit, we have blocked off enough space to host up to 700 people," She said in an email interview. "Though we are anticipating a larger group, we are keeping the breakfast sessions smaller in scope to enhance interactive conversations and hands on training. This is why there are so many breakout session options on the agenda."
Attendance doesn't come cheap. The full price of attendance is $640--$575 for an early bird group discount for government workers. The sticker shock would drive away most employees, but NextGen is prepared for that too. The conference has set up an HR 'toolkit' to train and educate interested employees in the art of persuading their boss to let them go, including an official letter from the Office of Personnel Management sanctioning the event. For the most part, government agencies and businesses set aside money explicitly for such occasions, and those lucky enough to go represent their agency as de facto ambassadors to the conference--another reason why Next Gen is so eager to get the word out.
"We have always offered guidance to help attendees develop their courage and harness the tools needed to ask their supervisors to attend NextGen," Price said. "This year, with the new website design, we developed this section to make it easier for attendees to find."
Once they do arrive, participants will have the opportunity to hear from the créme de la créme of corporate America and NGOs, including former CIA Director of Intelligence Carmen Medina ("Corporate Rebel"), Andrew Rasiej of the Personal Democracy Forum, Professor Kenneth Gold of Georgetown's Government Affairs Institute, and many more.
The wide-ranging array of topics on the itinerary is more than enough to stimulate young feds, but the absence of social media is glaring. According to the schedule, there is only one afternoon session addressing social media skills, and that's on a Thursday. But just because it's not on the schedule, doesn't mean it won't be a part of the conference.
"Every year, NextGen agenda is set by past attendees, their supervisors, and the NextGen board to ensure it reflects the true need of officials attending." Price said. "While social media may not seem as apparent a topic, it will be an underlying theme in several of the sessions as it is a part of this generation's culture and working style. NextGen will have its own mobile application that will be available to attendants via their iPhone, Android or Blackberry so they can take notes, view slides and create their own schedule."
"GovLoop will continue live blogging, online discussions and year-long dialogue--anything that can help government workers share information to help others do their job better."
But it's not just Generation Y who will benefit.
"The Next Gen Summit was created for and by emerging leaders in government--not just young people," Price added. "Anyone new to government, needing guidance or training to make their next career move are encouraged to attend. After all, it is how you think and not your age that matters."