Finances & Money

From Consulting to Higher Learning: Moving to a New Job

Some of you know that I’ve been pretty busy lately. I’m working full-time, plus taking 2 graduate courses and preparing for my capstone course in the summer. I’m running 3 websites (barely) and working through some health problems.

Now throw in a job change.

I’ve been working in federal IT consulting for almost 4 years now, but last week I accepted a position to work in the IT department of a major private university. As is customary, I’m not going to mention my employer by name, but I will say I’m comfortable with their financial standing and stability in this economy.

Are there jobs out there?

Not only will I be starting a new job with a new company, Stacie is now in her third month with a new job (same company). But with both of us getting a new job, does that mean the job market has opened up? Well, not quite because both of our job situations were “inside tracks” that wouldn’t be open to the normal applicant.

Stacie’s New Outpatient Dietitian Job

Stacie works for a large, local hospital. Until a few months ago, she worked as an inpatient dietitian for about 4 years. That means she worked with patients of all types (mostly babies and kids in more recent years), but also had to deal with food issues, such as cold food, wrong orders, etc. Lastly, she had to deal with the drama of working with about a dozen other female dietitians, and she will be the first to admit that working with an office full of women will drain the life out of you.

Once per week, though, she got to travel to a pediatric doctor’s office owned by the hospital but run by the doctors. She built a rapport with the doctors and administrator, and when they finally got funding for their own in-house dietitian, they told her immediately. The doctors already knew her work ethic, bubbly personality and capacity for learning, so while they did have to interview other candidates, Stacie was pretty sure she would get the job offer…and she did.

Mike’s New Tech Job

Here in D.C., jobs are still available thanks to proximity to the federal government. Everyone says D.C. is “recession-proof”, but that doesn’t mean we’re living in the dotcom-boom here. People are still losing their jobs, which means there’s more people competing for even less new job postings. However, there is still a market for what Obama calls “high-paying, high-skill jobs”, filled by candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree. While construction and other service industry jobs have taken a huge hit, tech jobs are still out there in D.C. So if that doesn’t tell you to get edumacated, then I don’t know how else to motivate you.

While working for a major oil company right out of college, I made a number of good friends. Most of us have since left that company (one now owns an excellent Indian restaurant called Saravana Palace), but we’ve kept in touch. This network has brought me a number of job leads through the years, even when I haven’t been actively looking for a new job (like now). This is proof that you need to stay connected to your professional colleagues, and never burn any bridges!

One of the friends got hired by a large, private university in the D.C. area about 3 years ago, and has been trying to get me in there with him since then. His boss (a director) has had my resume on his desk for well over a year, but was never successful at opening another technical analyst role…until this year. Basically, the VP and CIO were going to turn down the opening, yet again, until the VP was reminded that my friend knew “someone” (me) that was able and willing to fill the job RIGHT NOW. The CIO gave the green light and thus the position was born.

I will admit that my friend also clued me in to 2 other openings, in other departments, in the last year. Thanks to his connections (the hiring managers are right down the hall), I was called for phone interviews for both positions, and a second interview for one of them. During the site visit for the second interview, I met my friend’s boss for an informal lunch. We got to know each other and chat off the record, but it turned out later that this would count as the interview HR needed to check off their list.

When the position opened, I applied immediately (10:30 at night) and the director immediately closed the position. While it sounds very fast-paced, in reality it took well over a month from the initial green light from the CIO to getting the call from HR with the formal offer. Even though HR told the director this was the fastest it ever processed a job posting, it felt like an eternity!

So last week, I accepted the job offer and put in my 2 weeks’ notice the next day. I’ll actually be sticking around for just over 2 weeks because my current employer needs me on the books as our current contract is under renewal. It’s a formality, and as of today I’ve handed off all my work. I’ll be spending the last 6 days answering questions as they arise, but mostly trying to get ahead on my homework and summer project before the 60+ hour work weeks set in.

I’m going to write another article to detail the job offer, so stay tuned to find out about my commute, my pay increase (or decrease) and other benefits information. I will say, though, that the commute will probably be the worst thing, by far, about this job, but I’m more than willing to deal with it as the job opportunity itself is almost a dream.

I really want to thank my friend for vouching for me to his boss for 3 years. Having someone on the inside is great, but having that person pester management to get you in there is a big bonus. If I didn’t have my friend, I wouldn’t have even known of the job opening, much less been anything more than another applicant if I had applied. Thanks Friend!

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Clever Dude


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