7.15.2008

We're gonna make it after a-a-lll....

D.C. is a town of job hoppers. Almost everyone was a high school academic all-star. We won debate competitions, awards in "leadership seminars" and scholarships to colleges that are either Ivy League, or "Better than the Ivy League," in whichever particular field the alumnus majored. Now we live for the emails we can send home to Mom and Pop. "Dear Folks, I beat out thirty other candidates for the senior-SENIOR executive assistant job with The Whatever Institute. This means I will now be answering phones for some of the greatest minds of our generation." 

Every single job is a fight, from the first internship to the last underpaid but prestigious position in "Grass Roots Development" or "International Relief." And everyone is always on the make for the next job. 

Here are some job hunting tips specific to the city:

- Take nothing personally. Everyone is both incredibly over-worked and trying to develop only the most prestigious contacts possible. Given these two factors, your phone call has a high chance of being ignored. 

- If someone promises to do something for you but doesn't, remind him or her once, then drop it.  

- Expect to work for peanuts, or free. 

- Expect everyone back home to think this is insane. And don't waste your time trying to defend yourself with something like, "But my senator is the leading expert on peanut farms - that will be huge in alternative energy policy discussions." 

- Enjoy the networking opportunities, which allow you to have incredibly detailed policy discussions with people who actually know what they're talking about. 

- Realize most people don't know what they're talking about, but we all skimmed the Economist, so close enough. 

 - Remember that even if you skimmed the Economist, there's a chance your acquaintance sat in on the committee hearings, so um, try not to overdo the bs. 

- Remember too, that the guy talking is probably as full of shit as you would like to be, if you had the guts to really go for it.

- Come to grips with the fact that a society largely made up of sleep-deprived people with something to prove will never treat you like the folks back home. 

- And finally, tip the help. Every other restaurant server or bar tender has a day job with an international think tank or a Hill office. You never know who'll carry a grudge. 


16 comments:

  1. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

    I was waiting for you to start hating then all of sudden your last paragraph ended.

    Did I miss something?

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  2. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

    Yeah. Not sure I'm feeling this choice. Seems like Rusty's ultimate FU to the haters.

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  3. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

    Hey, give her a break, maybe she posted this entry to the wrong blog.

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  4. Liz, you're a skilled writer and this is cute, but we're not here for cute. James F gave us a taste for blood. Embrace the dark side, baby doll.

    ReplyDelete
  5. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

    great, what i hate most about dc now is this blog...thanks.

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  6. You're right. It's the midwestern roots. They smooth out the edges in a way that I can tell makes northeasterners want to eat their own hand in hatred and frustration when they're dealing with me. It's like, no matter how much I hate someone, I still also sort of want them to have a nice day.

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  7. I'm not sure how long you've lived here, but I can't endorse this advice.

    1. By all means take certain things personally, and file them away. Don't make a habit of being shit upon.

    2. If someone reneges on a promise, hold it against them forever.

    3. If you agree to work for peanuts or for free, you'd better be a college student looking for an internship. Otherwise, you're a jackass. There are a ton of jobs out there, and the market isn't actually all that competitive as long as you show up and speak English. Get paid what you're worth.

    4. People "back home" shouldn't think this is insane. They aren't a collection of rubes and hayseeds, they understand DC is the seat of our federal government and you should be able to explain your job to them.

    5. Network only if you have to and if you enjoy it. Don't feel like you have to talk shop at a bar. It can be annoying. It's fulfilling to date and have friends outside your sphere of work.

    6/7/8. Some people b.s. more than others. You'll figure it out soon enough.

    9. Avoid self-important assholes with something to prove. They are poseurs and they can't help you.

    10. Tip according to service, whether you suspect your waiter/bartender may someday be in a position to help you or not. Hardworking garden-variety restaurant staff deserve tips just as much as douchebag hill staffers.

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  8. GWU CutieJuly 15, 2008

    Although there wasn't much hatred, you captured a (perhaps annoying) DC nuance well. Good job so far, Liz!

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  9. somebody is an underpaid intern out of Georgetown...

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  10. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

    STRIKE TWO.

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  11. Buddy LoveJuly 15, 2008

    Maybe I interpreted this incorrectly, but in an attempt to create a sarcastic post providing "advice" regarding some of the douchiest aspects of of DC, you managed to create a quite serious post for all up and coming d-bags.

    Either (like anon said) this was posted in the wrong blog or (like HRH King Friday XIII said) you should just drop the cutesy.

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  12. Ha! I think you're a little bit right.

    I suspect the weirdest thing about living in D.C., for a lot of us anyway, is being surrounded for the first time by people who are as generally awful as we are. It's one thing to be a demanding stress case in a small town where most people will write you off as, "That nice girl who works too hard." It's another to look around a room full of people just like you and realize, "This kinda sucks."

    If you don't actively seek out a different crowd, it's easy to end up trapped with the latter day version of the yuppies.

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  13. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

    "being surrounded for the first time by people who are as generally awful as we are."

    Correction. The above statement should have read like this...

    being surrounded for the first time by other implant people who are as generally awful as we are.

    The natives are not the problem. It is the implants who are.

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  14. Buddy LoveJuly 15, 2008

    "I suspect the weirdest thing about living in D.C., for a lot of us anyway, is being surrounded for the first time by people who are as generally awful as we are."

    That's not "weird" at all. That's classifying yourself as one of the exact types of DC d-bags that makes it a terrible place to live.

    Expect your LNS invitation any day now...

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  15. Liz
    why you hate DC. haha. love it
    in 2500 nobody will hate DC because DC will be ghost town, the WHITE HOUSE will have moved to Juneau alaska for global warming and will be called THE NORTHERN WHITE HOUSE, housed in Juneau's Capital Bldg.

    don't believe me?

    see blog here and post it if you ahve time and inclined that way

    http://northwardho.blogspot.com

    DANNY

    former DC resident 1975-1979

    ticket seller at AFI

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  16. I think what you might have been trying to say, Liz, is that despite the so-called accolades, i.e., Ivy League education, "better-than Ivy League" (there are hundreds), excellent high school grades, most of the people with these so-called endorsements do not seem very bright, creative, or compassionate. It is part of the deeply ingrained belief amongst DC people that well-educated equals intelligence. Having lived in DC for quite some time, this has surely proven not to be the case.

    Try to bathe in the hate!

    ReplyDelete