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Tips on Getting an Obama Administration Job

By Ed O'Keefe

Post reporter Ian Shapira reports today on eager twenty- and thirty-somethings seeking work with the new administration. "The job-seekers range from think-tank types to lawyers seeking better hours or a more altruistic mission. Many were low-paid field directors and their nomadic minions who knocked on doors, organized voters and coordinated multimedia promotions for the Obama campaign."

This afternoon Ian took questions from interested readers and potential administration applicants. Here are some highlights:

Greensboro, N.C.: If I'm not already in D.C., wanted to, and wanted to but didn't work for the campaign,would it be a waste for me to move up there for a job, considering a backlog of candidiates? Considering applying to law school up there though and networking over those three years as well. What would you suggest?

Ian Shapira: Dear Greensboro,

If you're interested in working in Washington, attending law school here is a great idea and will give you time and plenty of networking opportunities. Law schools are filled with professors who used to work or work part-time on the Hill or serve as advisers in the Executive branch. Your summers may be spent working at law firms, but your path is up to you, so you don't have to get sucked into the typical law school track. You can spend your summers interning with the administration or on the Hill.

New York: The juxtaposition of today's article with the announcement that Kal Penn will be starting a new position in the WH as a liaison to Asian Americans and the young was interesting -- was it intentional?

Ian Shapira: Not intentional. But it is hysterical given that Kal Penn was in a movie spoofing Guantamano Bay. Did the administration like his overt and humorous political viewpoints? I saw online that one of Obama's favorite shows is "Entourage" so I know he likes ironic humor. And I believe Kal Penn was also in one season of "24". Clearly, Penn was smart about his path: instead of doing the grad school thing or working on a campaign, he spent his 20s and early 30s starring in movies as a stoner and a terrorist. Now, why didn't everyone else think of that!

D.C., of course: A timely article. After the election, I was offered a job at HHS. I quit my job to take this new position, but I then was told that there was a civil service hiring freeze until the new secretary was confirmed. As a way of getting around this hiring freeze, I was told to apply to the same job through the Public Health Service (PHS). After spending over $1,000 to rush my PHS application, I was told that there was yet another hold-up - but that this would be resolved in the next six months "or so." I can't go six months without a job, so I took another, lower paying position. I'm both angry and deeply disappointed. I would have never quit my job without another offer, I'm out the $1,000 I spent to get rushed medical and security clearance, and have not worked in two months. I probably should give up on that HHS job, shouldn't I?

Ian Shapira: Dear DC, of course: Your story sounds totally awful. It'd be great if the federal government could reimburse you or something but I doubt your plight is high on their list. Could you email me offline? Shapirai@washpost.com

For what it's worth, don't give up on that HHS job offer.

Read Ian's full chat here and make sure to check all of the washingtonpost.com Live Discussions here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 8, 2009; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Workplace Issues  
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