Use your existing network to branch out. Since you’re from the D.C. area, use those connections to set up meetings. If you have a degree, you’ll also have an alumni network, so give alumni a call and see if they know people who work on Capitol Hill. With each meeting, or at least the ones that seem to go well, ask if the person can give you additional names. Slowly you’ll build a network and mound of business cards, so when you move back to the D.C. area full time you’ll be in great shape to keep going with your job search.
Q. I am a college senior about to graduate and make my way into the real world. I have no idea where to begin finding an apartment in D.C., especially one on a beginning Hill staffer’s salary. Any tips or tricks that you can offer a newcomer into the D.C. professional world?
A. Get ready for the group house. Before you wince, let me give you a few selling points on why living in a house with a few other people — otherwise known as your NEW friends — is a great idea and will save you money, too.
Group houses are cheaper. You’re sharing everything from the cable bill to the dishwasher and probably a bathroom, so your rent is going to be lower than a studio apartment.
You’re also in a house, so you’re less likely to pay for a doorman and concierge service. And if you live in a neighborhood like Capitol Hill — where you can walk to work! — you can likely find street parking and avoid paying for a space.
If living in Dupont Circle or the U Street area strikes your fancy, you can ask your office to give you a parking space in lieu of a Metro subsidy and leave your car permanently parked in Lot 7. Or leave the car at home and take the Metro like the rest of your cohorts.
Group houses come in all varieties; you can find one that is all guys, all girls or mixed. Rooms are usually pro-rated on size and desirability, so you can opt for the master bed with adjoining bath or take the super cheap spot in the basement.
So where can you find this group house? Craigslist. The Rayburn bulletin board. Friends. Word of mouth. Post a message on Facebook. People are always looking for roommates and — similar to hunting for a job — they prefer people they know or who have been recommended.
Roommates make your dollars go further, and if you are new to Washington, they’ll be an asset to your social life as well. By the time you’re sick of them, hopefully you’ll have a promotion and raise to get a place on your own.
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