Friday, February 03, 2006

Irony?

I'm being (have been?) interviewed for a news story about the difficulties in finding a job in D.C. I asked the reporter to remain anonymous which she was glad to do. I'll see if I can't find the article when it comes out and put it up here. In the mean time I'll post my portion of the interview here.

"So here's the basic storyline so far:

I moved down to D.C. a couple of months after I graduated in 2003. I ended up doing what my friends call "the hollywood thing", sleeping on the floor of my friends apartment while I got an internship in a congressional office. After several months of sleeping on their floor, my friends understandably became annoyed. My job search continued on Tuesdays and Thursdays while my internship was on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays. I was helped out by having family already working in the government. My cousin in-law worked for a congressman and my uncle worked for the state dept. Informational interviews were abundant, however real interviews were in short supply.

My internship ended in Dec. of 2003 and by February 2004 I had a job. I worked in a congressional office as a staff assistant for a departing member. This position had its positives and negatives. Upward movement in the office was a given, people would be jumping ship and positions and responsibilities would be opening up. The downside was that come January 3rd 2005, I would again be out of work. But after a little over a year of not having a real job post graduation, I was thrilled by the opportunity. In that first job search period a couple of things became clear. First, agencies were almost impossible to break into. This was made more difficult by the fact that I am a registered democrat. At several interviews I had people tell me that they would pass my resume along to the appropriate person and then lean in and say: "but they'll probably just throw it away because of the people you've worked for." Secondly, getting an interview was almost impossible. It required patience, persistence and LOTS of resumes.

My job search started again in 2005. I figured it would be much easier this time around because of my acquired experience and the contacts I had made. I also had done some campaign work in my off time and figured that this would also help in both networking and making me look good. It's been about a year and 3 months now and I have had roughly 5 interviews. I have been working through politemps, working as a waiter and even collected unemployment for what seemed like the most frustrating part of my life. The amount of work that has gone into getting those 5 interviews is ridiculous. I have mailed out at least 3-5 resumes a day, applying to everything from federal agencies to marketing and law firms. As an added kick in the side the restaurant that I had been working at, closed on the 1st of January.

One thing that I think is frustrating is that 3/4's of the job listings I look at require you to have either a masters degree or some huge amount of experience and a lot of those are entry level! The other 1/4 of the jobs are clerical, or secretary work that makes me scared about the prospect of being stuck in that position forever. On the federal agency side of things, just going about applying to them is ridiculous. Anyone who has ever gone to USAJobs.com knows what I'm talking about.

I think many employers don't know how difficult it is just to get your foot in the door. So many people are applying for every position out there that it's nearly impossible just to get noticed. Out of the hundreds of resumes that I've sent out, I would guess that maybe 20 or so of the intended recipients have looked at it. This also adds to the stress and frustration in a job search because 90% of the time you get no feedback whatsoever. The times when I have gotten feedback it's always weeks or even months later when I've forgotten I ever applied to a position in that office."

Luckily this first (last?) interview was conducted via email so I had it saved.

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