Josh’s Job Search 2.0: Got Internship?

Posted on December 4, 2013

This is another installment of an ELGL original content series titled “Josh’s Job Search 2.0” by Josh Halladay. Halladay is sharing career advice that he is receiving in informational interviews.

downloadThis article has been a few weeks in the making.  I have recently passed the three-month mark for unemployment.  For a recent college grad, with time comes knowledge and an imaginary bruise from the feeling of metaphorically banging one’s head against the wall.  I feel more confident in my understanding of how this process works and what I need to do to find a permanent job.  I also have a great deal of experience of picking myself up after being rejected upwards of 20 times.

I-think-i-have-a-problemWhile some public sector professionals have found their current positions through blind applications, they are the exceptions.  And while there are some posted positions that I qualify for with my current level of experience, I do not feel like I am competitive enough on paper to land a management analyst position or something equivalent.  Therefore, I have made the decision that I need to change how I approach my job search.

A number of conversations have lead to this decision, which I am only writing about now because they took some time to process.  It is tough to admit that for three months I did not use my time as well as I could have, despite thinking I was.  But admitting you have a problem is the first step toward fixing it.  So, here’s to kicking off a more successful three months (or with any luck, shorter).  Of note: I owe a lot of this realization and new approach to the good people at the City of Lake Oswego.

00003465900310I met Anthony Hooper, my first informational interviewee for a happy hour.  Another professional from Lake Oswego joined us.  I used the opportunity to get a discourse going with back and forth opinions.  The topic of internships came up and I began to consider the idea more seriously.  Both encouraged the idea.

Later that week I met Cate Schneider for coffee.  I spoke with her about the idea of an internship.  She said that hers helped her get a position at the City of Lake Oswego.  We discussed the idea of soliciting my services and she gave me a few names of potential persons to contact about the idea.  The first such person on that list was the Assistant City Manager of Lake Oswego David Donaldson.

imagesI emailed David with a trial solicitation.  His answer was no, but he met with me to discuss internship possibilities further.  In this meeting he gave me a few names as well as some advice.  He said that it costs money to hire an intern prior to any direct payment because of management time and space.  He also said that a number of local MPA students were interning for free to get experience.  The two best ways to find a someone willing to take on an intern was to use a personal bond with the person, such as sharing an alma mater, or offering one’s services to the smaller cities that don’t have many employees or resources and would likely be more willing to invest their time in supporting an intern.  Seeing as few people go from the USC MPA up to Portland, I am concentrating my efforts on the smaller cities and currently trying to set up informational interviews with their city managers.

If you are someone you know is interested in taking on a free intern with the ability to conduct research/analysis/outreach with little supervision, please check out my LinkedIn profile and see if I fit your needs.

download (1)The changed approach does not end there.  With few entry-level job openings in local government, I need to increase my chances of finding employment.  While I have spent the first three months focusing nearly exclusively on networking with local government administrators, I will now actively network with non-profits.  I believe that the community in Portland is interconnected enough, that meeting these people will greatly expand my opportunities.  My plan is to start with the more connected organizations like United Way and Urban League and work my way out from there.  I am also looking more into the private sector, though I still do consider that a last resort.

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