Living and working in the Washington, D.C. region puts you in the center of the hustle and bustle of the U.S. government, and the nation's capital city has a lot to offer. If you're looking to start your career in D.C., you'll gain work experience and acquire skills that will take you anywhere. Here's why.
1. Numerous job prospects
Washington, D.C. is full of opportunity in all sectors—public, private, and nonprofit. Did you know in 2016, 86 percent of recruiters and 62 percent of employers in the U.S. felt the labor market was candidate-driven? With a combination of the right education, training, soft skills, and other personal attributes, you have a good chance to get your foot in the door. Numerous entry-level jobs can be found in and around the city, especially in the government, business, science, and art fields. Not to mention, there are some prominent organizations in the District that would look pretty darn good listed as work experience as you grow your career.
2. Internship and volunteer opportunities
D.C. is very internship and volunteer-friendly. If you're just getting started or wanting to expand work experience to shift to another field, look for the numerous paid and unpaid internship possibilities in the District. Many people associate the word "internship" with politics and government, however, interning in the nation's capital doesn't necessarily mean these are the only opportunities (of course, if that’s your thing, there are plenty of agencies to apply to). Aside from the numerous government internships and volunteer opportunities, there are many other corporate companies with well known brands, along with numerous nonprofits, research facilities, defense contractors, and technology companies. Through interning and volunteering, you can earn yourself a nice jumpstart in your career, or maybe even land a full-time job with the organization. Plus, you'll meet many people along the way, which leads to the next good reason to gain work experience in the District—networking.
Working in the D.C. region you'll begin to build many relationships. Every encounter is a potential possibility to learn more about what's out there because networking is a way of life in the District. If you do end up starting off in government or working for a contractor, you should know government contract winners routinely change. This means personnel gets shifted around based on what company is awarded the contract. As a result, chances are you'll continuously be working with new people, further growing your professional network. Additionally, there are numerous networking events in the region to look into attending. Remember, once you get your job, don't stop networking: make it a part of your lifestyle and keep up on your relationships.
4. Grow beyond your technical skills
A great many reasons make the District a great place to work, but there are drawbacks too. However, don't view these as deterrents. Instead, flip them about, and look at these as positives. Consider any frustrations as a way to add to your experience and career growth. D.C. isn't the city that doesn't sleep but there is always a flurry of activity (despite the ever-present bureaucracy, in many ways Washington is a fast-paced city). For instance, take working in government or contracting jobs—it's typical to find pressure at any given time due to various mandates, commitments, and deadlines that may come from the government or your boss. Sure, it can be tough but you'll learn to grow skills such as: • Working under stressful conditions • Managing tight deadlines • Learning how to be flexible and/or quickly adapt • Growing proficiency skills • Building leadership skills • And, yes, dealing with bureaucracy In many ways, D.C. is in a constant state of flux. Go with the flow because chances are you'll become a pro in being able to handle any situation thrown at you. No matter where life takes you, possessing these skills will only better your future career prospects.
5. Learn how to work in teams
Your job could possibly require you to work with any given number of people, or even different organizations and companies simultaneously (this is common in government contract positions). That means you'll be working with different personalities, philosophies and organizational work habits. Working within any given number of teams, you might even pick up some skills you hadn't considered. Washington, D.C. is consistently ranked as one of the best cities to begin a career. In 2017, it was ranked #3 of the best cities for people starting out. Sure, it's full of politics and bureaucracy but other types of opportunities also abound. Not to mention, D.C. is a millennial-friendly place, leading many recent grads to look to the city as a launching point for their careers.