career direction moving forward
ATD Blog

My Talent Development Career Journey in the Public Sector

Monday, January 11, 2021

Hello, my name is Scott, and I have been asked to discuss training within the public sector. I have my CPTD and will be giving you my thoughts and insights every couple weeks. I’ve been working in the corporate training industry for nearly 20 years, both in the military and public and private sectors. I intend to cover items that I have learned over the years, the issues I have dealt with working in the public sector, and my thoughts on being an instructional designer and training coordinator.

I graduated 30 years ago from a suburban high school in Indiana and like to joke that The Breakfast Club could have been filmed there. I attended University of Wisconsin with the purpose of getting a BS in physics and my teaching certification to become a high school physics teacher. For me, I was just following in my family occupation—my mom was a public-school teacher, and her high school counselor, Elvin, later became her brother-in-law. Elvin’s wife and daughter were also public-school teachers, as were many of my cousins.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford my last two years of college, dropped out, and joined the navy. I was training to operate a submarine’s nuclear and steam plant outside of Seattle. After learning my job, I was assigned a collateral duty to develop, deliver, and document my workgroup’s training. I found out I was good at it, and I enjoyed it. At the time, I still wanted to get my degree to become a high school physics teacher. Then I had a eureka moment—I realized I didn't like kids all that much.

My immediate supervisor informed me of an option I didn’t know existed: corporate training. He recommended I return to school and get my degree, not in physics but in adult and workforce education and training. I took his advice and obtained my degree from the School of Education at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in its workforce education and development department.


A portion of SIU’s curriculum at the time was to perform an internship for two semesters. I dreaded this requirement. I did not want to do this internship. It wasn’t the job I was against but that I was routinely going to sea, so doing an internship would be difficult to complete. By this time, I had transferred to a submarine located in the Jacksonville, Florida area, and I found a company that was willing to work with my unique scheduling requirements. They were shifting from vendor-based, off-the-shelf e-learning training to building company-specific training in-house and needed individuals to start the process. Initially, three interns were brought in to start building the courses. My manager, who was also my mentor, gave each of us a list of courses she needed, and we each selected what we wanted to create. This was during the dark ages of e-learning Development. Adobe Captivate was MacroMedia Captivate, and Articulate had only released Studio 2. The company’s training department was comprised of the department manager, an LMS administrator, and the interns.


I started to learn the design and development process and to develop my style, creating style of e-learning that I still try to use today. I wanted to be a storyteller and facilitator, not a lecturer. I wanted the learner to be as active in their learning as possible and not just sit there and click NEXT.

The course ended up as a conversation between the “safety manager” and the “new employee” (learner) discussing the assigned task. We took pictures of me in various poses behind the desk and in front of the equipment talking to the “employee.” I found it fun. My manager and I agreed that I would continue my internship for the second semester, and she had me fill the role of the LMS administrator because the department was just the two of us. When I started my internship, I despised the thought of doing it and the various scheduling headaches it would cause with my command. However, by the time I had completed both internships, I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I knew I wanted to be an instructional designer who builds e-learning.

In my next entry, I’ll discuss the rest of my journey to becoming a training professional in the public sector. If you have any comments or questions, please share them below.

About the Author

Scott Miller is an instructional designer at the Nevada National Security Site. He was introduced to the world of corporate and workforce training while in the US Navy’s Submarine forcer 25 years ago. Since leaving the Navy, he earned a BS and an MS Ed from Southern Illinois University in Workforce Education and Development.

Over the past 10 years, he has worked as a training coordinator for the world’s second largest Borate Mine, freelance instructional designer, and a technical writer. In 2016, he answered a Facebook posting asking for former Navy Nukes or Submariners who have experience in developing, delivering, and managing training, and was hired to be a training coordinator. He has since moved from the training management team to the content development team, where he has helped design and develop training materials for up to 5,000 government employees and contractors.