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Myra

Washington, D.C.

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My college graduate wants to make a career in political field.  Upon advice from his professors, he is planning to move to Washington, D.C. 

First, he thinks he  should find a place to live - share an apartment or rent out a room

then apply for jobs once he is there.  

His resume includes bachelor degree in communications, minor in international politics.  Job experience includes field organizer for successful congressman's campaign in 2019  plus 2018 summer research intern for political consulting firm....

Any advice for living arrangements?

Any advice for jobs?

 

Any advice at all (to calm this mom down)? 

Edited by Myra

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Does he have any contacts in the area? 

Dos he have substantial savings/is he aware of the cost of living?  A room in someone's house is going to run 750 a month, for example, in a decent area (you can get cheaper the farther out you are but you aren't going to get below $650 for anything decent--and that's a room, not a split apartment). 

AFA work,  we've found Monster and Indeed post pretty recent jobs. 

Also, I would get the job first, or find a place that is month to month that you can leave on short notice. The area is big and commutes are long. People talk in time to get somewhere, not distance, because it can take forever to go a short way. 

 

 

Edited by Chris in VA
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Thanks for the info - I will pass it along. 

Are you familiar enough to suggest decent/safe/within commuting areas to start looking for room to let?

 

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I live in the city. Lots of young professionals live around me in group houses.

Gently... you sound like you think the city is scary. I live right in the inner city. I guess I'd urge you to take a breath. If he wants to live way far out and have his own place, then yeah, he can totally do that. You can get great deals on a condo way out 66 or down 95 or up 270 in any of those bedroom communities. It may be near a metro stop depending on how far out. If he likes to bike, he may be able to do a bike to metro commute - maybe  even one that's under an hour. And some of those burbs do have communities of young people. Some people prefer that, absolutely. However, IME, most young people trying to break into lobbying or political jobs don't want to live way out in the burbs or whatever. They want to live somewhere where the social scene will be other people doing the same thing. There are less safe neighborhoods, yeah. And there is crime in the city, yeah. But I'm living here raising my kids. I've been here for two decades. It's not for everyone, but it's really okay.

In terms of the city - the traditional safe spots are going to be anything west of Rock Creek Park. Plus all the close in suburbs like Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Alexandria, Arlington. And now the eastern suburbs have gotten nicer - Hyattsville in particular. I live in Columbia Heights - CoHi, Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, Petworth - all fine, but are nearly as pricey as being on the other side of the Park now, but like I said, there's still a group house scene. Same in Capitol Hill - all the way out to Kingman Park and so forth - definitely still group houses for young people, depending on your budget. I'm seeing lots of young people moving to Brookland and the outskirts in NE. Even like, Ivy City and NoMa is definitely sort of hot right now. Supposedly the conservatives are all in the high rise condos around Navy Yard and Waterfront. There are even spots on the other side of the river that are good now - though that's so far out of my own area that I don't know them.

In terms of jobs... the most turnover everywhere is in election years. Just something to know. But there's always something going. His experience should hopefully get him in the door somewhere.

ETA: Feel free to message me if he does end up looking in the city, Myra. I'll let you know if the neighborhood is okay. 😉 

Edited by Farrar
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If he can live in DC, so much the better! It really is an amazing place. Yes, it's a city, but there are ways to use common sense and stay quite safe there. As Farrar said, it would be good to live there so he can network and not have such a commute, but it depends what he's looking for. 

I'm just curious, what exactly does he want to do as a job? 

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Well, I don’t have immediate advice about living in the city as most people I knew commuted.

But, financially it is at least a mistake and likely going to be impossible to move first and then find a job.  This applies to almost everywhere and especially expensive places like the mid Atlantic.  Landlords probably won’t rent to someone without a job.  I’m sure you’ve advised him of this common knowledge, similar to don’t quit your job before you have a new one.  I also think most entry level workers are commuting as well, because of expenses.  

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Does he have a friend or relative he could stay with while he job hunts, before actually finding a place to live?  That's what we did, albeit 35 years ago now!

We stayed with an aunt (my dh and I, right after we were married) out in the Virginia suburbs, and even though it took an hour to get in on the Metro, it worked out well for us to do it that way.  Once I found a job, we found our apartment.  (My dh was going to school full-time so wasn't working.)  Back then, we lived in a cheap studio apartment in a very old building in the Adams Morgan area for about $350/month!  Since then, that building has been turned into high-priced condos.  Back then, many students lived in that area, in old basement apartments and rooms and it was all quite affordable.  Now it looks like you can barely get a room for under $800 there!  Wow.

Still, if he gets a job with even quite minimal pay, he'd be able to get a room in some kind of group arrangement and just know that he'll have little money left for anything else.  (It was like that for us, which we were fine with.  There's still a lot of interesting stuff to do for free in DC, as far as I know!)  We LOVED living right in the city and being so close to everything, especially as a young person and just getting to know the area.  (And back then, Adams Morgan felt a lot sketchier, but we still loved it.)  The Metro always felt very safe and we used it a lot to get around, but a lot of things were within walking distance too.

I ended up getting a job at one of the think tanks that over time evolved into assigning internship projects to newly hired college grads.  But I have a feeling all of that has changed so much, that I wouldn't even know what to recommend.  It sounds like your ds has some good experience, and hopefully that will get some attention.

I do remember that several of my friends who were hoping to work in politics one day, having just recently graduated with a BA degree, started out doing anything at all at a political institution -- administrative assistant, secretary, mail room clerk, etc.  Sometimes the hardest part is just getting your foot in the door.  Then, they volunteered for political projects to get the continued experience.

I also remember, back in the day, that getting a job at other country embassies was not too competitive.  I was offered an office-type job at two of them right out of college.  Just a thought.

Anyway, in the end, I'm sure things have changed a lot since I've been there!  It's such an exciting area to live in though.  I loved it, and I'm sure your ds will too.

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Thanks everyone!

And Farrar... I will let you know when he chooses an area to see your opinion.

And Displace...I understand everyone's idea about finding a job first then moving (it's how I've done it in the past), but several jobs have said they only hire people that live already in the area - law of supply and demand, I guess.  So it's not that I am nervous about him moving to D.C. it's the idea of just jumping and moving there without employment, contacts, friends, etc. 

And Chris in VA...he is hoping for a job in the political campaign area, less out in the field but more in the office.  But he is willing to grab any job to support himself (including pizza delivery, etc) until he lands a "real" job.  

He was employed by the last congressional campaign right after graduation last year up to end of Nov. 2018 (living here at home) but there are now zip jobs here, he is getting really down with no friends in the area and no job prospects and living at home .... big time depression;  therefore, he views this as a "hail Mary" type of move.

 

Once again thanks!  

 

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I think Displace is generally right about it not being smart to move without a job... but at the same time, as long as he's willing to do something random and has enough money to cover a couple of months, then I think it's a reasonable gamble. Before the shutdown, things were strong here... the shutdown has really hurt places, but it still seems like plenty of low level jobs are hiring to tide over. If he's a Democrat, there are a lot of campaigns hiring this minute and will be for the next few months - so even though it's not a natural turnover moment, it's not a terrible time to get into campaigns. It's especially a reasonable gamble if he can find a group house to move to in order to save money.

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Farrar - Thanks for the support.  Really, he is going to do what he feels best.  He saved almost all of his salary from the congressional campaign work last summer/fall. I mean he worked 10 hour days, low below min. wage pay BUT lived at home & since we live in a relatively rural area and all of his friends have moved so he spent zip on recreation/entertainment so he has a smallish nest egg.  Plus he is willing to work hard at any job to tide him over if need be - grocery store, retail, delivery, etc.  and he has hung out with college buds that live in NYC so he is comfortable navigating transit systems, large city life, etc. SO.......

Thanks again everyone,

Myra

 

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It sounds like he'd be able to make it work to just go ahead and move and then find a job once he's there.  (At least two of my kids have done it that way.  🙂)  Maybe renting a room within a larger apartment or home would really be good for him... instant community!   Also, he will meet people very easily in D.C.   So many new people are coming and going all the time, that everyone is looking to meet people and make friends.  I've never experienced anything quite like it before living in D.C.  Good luck to him!

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My poor son -he is so depressed and confused.  He drove around for a couple of hours yesterday just trying to clear his head.

Yesterday, he got two responses to emails from his previous campaign work.  One campaign manager said absolutely not to move to D.C. that it is impossible to get an entry level position and the cost of living is prohibitive and the second email who did an intern in D.C. for a congressman and is now managing his interns says go for it as they only hire people in the area.

So what to do....

where's my magic mom wand that I can wave and clear a path for him????

But since I don't have a wand, I am trying to just remain somewhat neutral and just listen.

Myra

 

 

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Maybe this is a good time to bring up how advice from one person (move to the area because that one person only hires people in the area) may contradict advice from a different person (don’t move until you have a job), and discuss generic common advice about not moving unless you have a job.  People hiring for positions have these views based on what they’re specifically looking for, ability to offer strong relocation packages, past experience in people quitting due to location, etc.

I think as young adults we may be too reliant on one person’s advice, whom we view as an expert, instead of thinking there may be a lot of people who are experts and they may all have different advice.  As adults, we need to weigh many choices and choose what’s best for us, and consider an expert’s opinion more heavily than a non-expert’s, but realize that expert may also have a viewpoint that is not perfect.

D.C. is an awesome city, and probably he’ll make enough to survive and will likely enjoy it, and may find a more career-specific job great for him.  But it’s also expensive and similar advice is given to anyone wanting to move to NYC, or LA, etc, without a solid job.

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He's unhappy at home. He has enough funds to cover himself to get set up. He's willing to live on little and be in a group living situation to save money. He is willing to work grunt jobs. I really think it's okay for him to try and fail. If he moves here and doesn't "make it" - it's really okay. And with a degree and experience in politics, he can also apply for federal government positions. If, in a year, he has to move home again for a time... I mean, it's better to have loved and lost... Assuming he doesn't work himself into a ton of debt, that is.

I find that people who are already in a stable living position find the cola here to be much harder to take than young people. So I would take anyone out of their 20's advice with a grain of salt, honestly - especially if they have a family and/or value owning property, especially if they think "a home" = a house with a yard in a neighborhood your grandparents would automatically think is safe. I mean, I find it SO EXPENSIVE to live here. My 27 yo friend who drifts from group house to house and goes to crash at her parents' or bum around Europe in between gigs... um, much less so.

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