The private sector. A lot of academics, and people that work in higher education, seem to think that the private sector and the public sector are at odds. In fact, a lot of people I’ve come into contact with, seem to think that business and education are at odds. If my experiences in interviewing for both are true, there a lot more similar than either side would like you to believe.
I’ve been in some really forward thinking interviews, with people who are hiring for HR departments who want to change their entire culture (guess I should brush up on Senge), to others that relied on testing that didn’t test the applicant’s ability to do something, but to remember something. I’ve had interviews where the conversation was good and I didn’t come up with the best answer I could of, and ones where I gave great answers. I’ve waited two hours to do an interview and I’ve been in and out in half an hour. From what I can gather about these organizations, they all run somewhat the same. The people on the ground are doing great work, under less than desirable conditions with some measure of stress. So can we stop with the incessant “you’ll have to do real work here” and “well you’ll really have to be able to think on your feet” as if to diminish the work I have done, or to say that because I’ve worked in an academic institution that I am unable to consider an idea an make a decision. I really do tire of having to bite my tongue and it does not reflect well for you to bash my former employer or my hometown which does not have the best and brightest reputation, but is my hometown regardless. Needless to say, I don’t work for those places.
It’s OK, I forgive you because it’s all very new to both parties. You’ll have to learn that both sides are pretty similar. Public and private both have dedicated people, with clear goals in mind, who honestly want others to share their knowledge, publicly and with each other. And I’ll wait to find a place that fits.