Advice for New Applicants to the D.C. Job Market

June 2009
By Fraser Traverse
As published in Miss A’s Advice Blog.

Dear Chloe,

First of all, welcome to Washington! Not only do I wish you much success in your job search, but I hope you will also enjoy all the great things our city has to offer to fill your nightlife and weekends.

You’re absolutely correct that DC is a great place to look for a job and the field of communications and P.R. is no exception. The key is to focus your search as much as possible. For example, you’re interested in animals and just today I posted a lead that the National Geographic Society has a variety of internship and entry-level openings. Check out their website for the full listing. Conservative? Target nonprofits that lean right or Republican officials seeking elected office. Love kids? Find the groups that advocate on behalf of children and families. Concerned about the environment? There are dozens and dozens of nonprofit organizations hiring right now. I have added many of these openings on my website in just the past few days.

Registering on the USA Jobs website is a good starting point if you have an interest in federal government jobs, and the application process will help you focus on your strengths and find your niche in the federal system. On Capitol Hill, look for press assistant leads, but also consider staff assistant or scheduler positions to get your foot in the door.

While you are looking for that dream job, don’t be afraid to take on an internship, even if it’s only a few days a week. Working for free (although some lucky interns are paid) may not sound ideal at this point, but it is a great way to make connections and keep yourself busy and in the work environment.

Finally, as frustrating as your experience was in Atlanta, don’t give up on your networking opportunities! Making those contacts isn’t primarily about asking each person for a job. It’s simply a matter of getting to know a company a little better and asking questions to see if it’s an industry that is a good fit for you. The big “ask” at the end of the conversation shouldn’t necessarily be, “Can you hire me?” Instead try, “Do you know anyone who is looking for someone with my experience?” Take those leads and keep going! It will work out, I promise!

Interested in more tips to improve your job search?

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