The OpSec Blog

Security and privacy information and advice at home and abroad.

RQ: Private Sector

with one comment

This week, a reader asked,

I’m coming from the private sector.  What should I expect to be different from State?  The same?

While everyone has a different experience, I can share mine after coming from a brief stint in the private sector.  Keeping in mind that these are generalizations…

Differences:  State is a large bureaucracy, and things move slowly.  Painfully slowly, at times.  Most processes could be radically simplified but for whatever reason (regulations, accountability, turf battles) they usually aren’t.  Worrying about price is, despite what the news might say about the government cutting back spending, is not something that’s ingrained into the corporate culture.  Overseas you’ll not only be working with your colleagues, but in a lot of places you’ll be living right next door as well.  Security, both physical, information, and technical, are taken very seriously.  You will not be using the latest and greatest IT equipment, nor are you allowed to bring in your own or even install your own software.  Regulations always have the final word, but whether or not the regulation is met often depends on your ability to convince someone of their point of view.  Once you’re tenured you basically can’t get fired unless you really, really screw up.  People guard their turf jealously for whatever reason, and occasionally the attitude of “not my job” pervades the work environment.  There’s a very clear path in almost every skill code for promotion.  You get to travel and switch jobs every few years.

Similarities:  In general you’re surrounded by people who want to do the right thing.  Your coworkers and colleagues will be both good and bad.  Benefits and pay are pretty good.  If you choose well, your work will be interesting.  Excellent performance is rewarded, even though there’s a ton of chaff that makes it into the hopper as well.  E-mail storms and e-mail “oops”es still happen.  On short trips you get per diem. Your boss is still a toss up as to their competence and demeanor.  You still have performance reviews.

This was kind of an open-ended question, so feel free to disagree.  “Different in a good way” is how I’d summarize.

Be sure to check out past Reader Questions in the Archives.

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One Response

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  1. A fantastic short description of some aspects of our work


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