Roll Camera

Dreams do come true

July 26th, 2009 at 10:17 pm by Ashlea

My house

My house

It is Friday 10:10 AM, July 24th. I am sitting at my desk, sipping warm African Redbush Peach Yogi Tea and checking my emails. The quote on my Yogi Tea bag says: Truth is everlasting. My office is shared with my boss, Bruce, but he is out of the office right now at call time with Congressman Boswell. Our office is a befitting jumblement of art ranging from Lichtenstein to old vinyl records from Funkadelic, framed photographs of Bruce with the Clintons at the White House on Christmas day, to framed Woodstock tickets. This morning I woke around 7:30 (after pressing snooze for a full hour… thinking of every excuse why I shouldn’t get up and go for a jog or a swim). No excuses seemed relevant, other than the fact that I was still tired from a busy week… or should I say busy last few months. An hour later, after finding an appropriate outfit that wasn’t amongst the pile of laundry that seems to increase at an exponential rate in the corner of my room, tumbling out the little laundry basket that is evidently not sufficient for my lifestyle; I make my way down the wooden staircase to the main level of my house and into the kitchen. Upstairs and downstairs my roommates are rushing around also starting their respective days. I open the fridge to stare in to a miserable looking shelf that either resembles the onset of a starvation diet or the scene of crime after a thief has stolen all your goods. Once again I remind myself, as I have been for th past two weeks, that I am due for a grocery run. I grab the almost empty carton of rice milk and in a very unladylike fashion do exactly what I had always scolded Thomas for doing. As I make my way to the door, I double check my heels are in my handbag before putting on my flip flops. If there is one thing I have learned about DC, is that every one (and I mean EVERY ONE) has a secret stash of shoes in their handbag… who do you think the monster bag was designed for?

And in a flash I am hurriedly walking the 20 minute commute down Massachusetts Avenue towards Union Station (a block from my office). I walk through two parks on my way home and notice the children playing on the see-saw and reminisce about summer days like those. I arrive at the office and catch up with my colleagues, Caitlin, who works in Congressman Courtneys office and Amanda, who works with me. And the day begins. I check my mail, respond to requests or confirm appointments… all the general morning maintenance issues that everyone has to deal with. It is now nearly time for me to leave, as I have to pick up a check in the city. As a political consulting firm, we handle the congressmen’s fundraising and PAC money, so I am off to pick up a contribution to a certain clients campaign…

But I will be back shortly…

Well, after a icky hot metro ride from Union Station to Metro Center, I picked up the envelope and made my way back to the underground of DC. On my way back to the office I did my usual stop at the corner market to grab a coke and an extremely unhealthy lunch of Ritter chocolate nut bar. Bruce then called and asked me to come over to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for call time with one of our congressmen. I grabbed our call book, which consists of call sheets for the lobbyists that contribute to the specific client, as well as the amounts they have contributed. There are very strict rules and regulations that the FEC (Federal Election Committee) enforce. It is our job to ensure that these rules are adhered to. So, I grabbed my laptop bag, the file and my handbag (changed into my flipflops again) and hit the streets. My walk from our office to the DCCC is about 15 minutes, I walk past the Hart Building, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the Canon Building and the Florida House (Yes, that is dedicated to you Floridians! I think of you all every time!). I arrived at the D-trip (as it is referred to) and set up for call time. I then had to run over to the Fairchild building. And then back to the D-trip, where I researched some lobbyist info and created some more callsheets. When they call votes, the congressmen have to go and vote on various bills – this obviously delays our schedule and we, on many occasions, have to sit around waiting for votes to end to continue with our call time. The Congressman arrived at 3:40 and we started making calls to various lobbyists, requesting campaign contributions by inviting them to events (this is per FEC rules on giving). It’s a great time, just Bruce and I and the congressman. I am not going to lie, I have my favorite Congressman that we work for. It’s an interestng dynamic as it is almost an insiders view as I get to know the Congressmen on a more casual level. Tonight I do not have any events, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays generally mean non-stop work from early morning to 7 to 8 PM. It’s fun work though and generally consists of cocktail parties and receptions.

A cocktail party with the girls from my office

A cocktail party with the girls from my office

So, it is now 4:45 PM, the day has flown by and it’s just about the weekend. These past few months have been a whirl wind. It’s amazing who I have met and the interesting jobs I have done. As my position specializes in special projects, I am involved in a number of  international political projects (something I am very passionate about). I have my daily routine of American politics, but on top of that my priority is the international aspect. That is a lot of fun and I feel as though we are making huge strides in that department. I can’t share too much on that aspect though, however, it is a part of my job that really motivates me.

My boss is absolutely amazing! I am the luckiest employee in the world… and he doesn’t even know I have a blog so it’s not as though he will read this. But, seriously, it is amazing how the people you work with can make or break your experience. In the past few weeks I have met ambassadors, had dinner with producers, had drinks with DC’s most powerful lobbyists and heads of multinational corporations. I have been to a series of great music events, ranging from King Sunny Ade to VIP and backstage at Jackson Browne. I have rubbed shoulders with the movers and the makers of the world and I owe it to Bruce for taking me under his wing and giving me a glimpse of what being an honest, kind and generous person can allow you to achieve.

Jackson Browne and I backstage after his show

Jackson Browne and I backstage after his show

If I look back life over the past few months, I cannot believe how much has changed – how I have changed and grown. A few weeks ago I was sitting at Starbucks applying to countless jobs; today I am an associate at a political consulting firm. I owe a big thank you to Lynn University for funding me to attend the ATHGO global forum last June. If I hadn’t attended the forum, I would never have met Bruce (my current boss) and wouldn’t have my job! I actually interviewed Bruce on camera at the forum and he thought I was a professional reporter. He stumbled over the interview and asked if he could do a retake… not realizing that I was just the media intern. I guess I made a good impression because every time someone asks how we met, that is the story he tells.

And now I start the next stage of my life as a professional in DC. And sadly my position as a blogger has come to an end. If there is one thing I can leave you with is grasp every opportunity that comes your way and reach for those that have not. During your time at Lynn, get involved, try everything and remember that you may not end up doing what you study. Take advantage of all the speaker visits that Lynn has on campus. Get to know your professors – today I still get emails for Dr. Watson, Jim Brosemer and even Matt Roos (who contacted me regarding the Alumni Reception we’ll be having in DC in September). I want to say a big thank you to Anna Krift (one of Lynn’s most prized professors) and her mom for their encouragement and support in following my blogs. Thank you to the Marketing Department for giving me the opportunity to share my wonderful adventure and to Admissions for my first job on campus. Being a campus tour guide earned me invaluable people skills that I use every day. Thank you to Kevin Ross for treating each student as an individual, rather than just a number. Thank you to Lynn University – for shaping me into the person I am today. You taught me to believe in myself and that even the undreamed of is a possibility at Lynn.

And for the last and final time: Thank you to all those who have followed my blog. I hope that you may learn from my experiences and enjoy many of your own at Lynn.

Posted in Career, Life | 6 Comments »

Good things are worth waiting for…

May 29th, 2009 at 10:42 am by Ashlea

That time has finally arrived. It’s the big announcement, the great ‘hooray!’ and the taste of victory…

My life is finally falling into place and it was well worth the ride. Last Monday, on my return from FL, I received a phone call from Bruce, whom I had been volunteering for. Without even seeing my resume, he said, I want to hire you. A week or so later, here I sit, at my desk in my new job as an associate in a political consulting firm. I couldn’t be happier! Those trecherous 5 months of job searching were well worth finding this gem of a position.

I’ve learned several things in my job search, firstly (as I have said many times before), it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You have to put yourself out there. I am a prime example: I just volunteered for Bruce, he got to know me, I proved myself and when the time came for him to hire someone else, I was there. A few weeks of working for free can sincerely pay off.

Secondly, be positive -there are always going to be times that you feel as though your life is stagnant and you’re not going anywhere… but really you are even when you’re just standing still. People want to be around people who are happy, confident and positive; it makes them positive. So, if you’re feeling lost, take out a pen and write down five things you are certain about in your life at that very moment. Concentrate on those. And if you feel lost, it’s only because you have a lot of options.

Thirdly, you must always believe in yourself – I always say, if you don’t believe in yourself, then how can you expect others to believe in you?

Shoot for the moon and if you don’t get there you’ll land among the stars…

Things have finally come together. I have an amazing job, I work for the most amazing boss in the entire world. And I have so much to learn… I can’t wait! Last night I went to an Italian Education Gala at the Building Museum. Vice President Biden spoke, as well as Joe Montagne. Apart from having to go through secret service security, the event was very impressive. It was a black tie dinner and I had the opportunity to meet many directors of government affairs and other high profile individuals.

Next week voting on the hill starts again, so things are going to be extremely busy with fundraising events and such. Basically, we are a political consulting firm that assists congress persons (our clients) to raise Political Action Committee funds. It means going to a lot of events,  organizing events and networking. As there are only four of us in the office, there are great opportunities for me. Another side note, I have visa sponsorship! So, granting that everything goes through, I’m here to stay (at least for a while!).

The last bit of news… I’m moving! Actually, just a few blocks down the road, but into a safer ‘hood’. I will be right by Eastern Market, 2 blocks from my boss’ house, 12 blocks from work, 11 blocks from the Capitol and 2 blocks from the metro! It’s in a house with two other girls. It’s a beautiful victorian three-level row house with a back yard and garden and grill. The floors are all antique wood, stainglass windows and my room is on the third floor with a little attached study nook! I move in on Sunday! It’s half the rent I am currently paying, but a thousand times better.

Well, I am going to have to get used to supporting myself… I think a paycheck means I’m cutoff from mom and dad’s support. Of course when this happens everything falls apart – my car won’t start (alternator), I’ve gone way over my minutes, I need medical aid and it is due time that I purchase some formal wear for all these events (my prom dress just doesn’t cut it anymore!).

Plus… I lost my camera last night with all my photos from the gala… when I find it I will post some photos from last night.

Until then, it’s back to work for me :)

Posted in Career, Life | 11 Comments »

Got Job?

May 20th, 2009 at 1:39 pm by Ashlea

Dear Class of 2009,

Firstly, my sincere congratulations! You do not deserve to be graduating during this time, so don’t get yourself down about the job market – it’s not a reflection on your achievements, but rather a reflection on the economy and mismanagement. As my friends always say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’

So, be strong and be brave because after every down there is an up and you aren’t the only one on this stressful roller coaster. You know that for the past 5 months I have been job searching and believe me, it’s only the beginning for a lot of you.

I have a few words of advice though. Don’t sit still… keep moving. It’s honestly about who you know not what you know (obviously a degree is a requirement) but put yourself out there. If you want to work in politics, move to DC. Take the jump, volunteer, get involved, sacrifice yourself because it will benefit you eventually. Now is not the time to be picky, if your internship requires you to fetch coffee, make the best coffee you’ve ever made in your life. If you have to pick up xerox stuff, do it with a smile on your face. When it comes to them reaching out to a new candidate for a position, who do you think they are going to choose?

There is a link to a video my dad sent me (be sure to press play) but it is really interesting and may give you some insight into where to go, and why you shouldn’t beat yourself up over the fact that you are one of the 82% of graduates graduating without a job.

Be brave, hold your head up high and good things will come – I promise.

http://tipstrategies.com/archive/geography-of-jobs/?ref=patrick.net

Posted in Blogroll, Career | Comments Off

That time again

May 7th, 2009 at 1:03 pm by Ashlea

I am back in Boca for graduation this weekend. Oh how I miss FL weather! I forgot how ideal the Lynn lifestyle is! Yesterday I soaked up some sun,worked out in Lynn’s fitness center in the Lynn residence hall and then went to Mizner Park.Then made a midnight spontaneous beach trip and built a sandcastle. Oh the joys of being on the Florida coast. What a location to go to college- you just can’t beat it!

Posted in Lynn | 1 Comment »

Walking home

April 28th, 2009 at 7:56 pm by Ashlea

Summer days have finally arrived. DC is bustling with people getting fit for summer and I’ve taken to walking home from work daily… Which is a good hour if I walk fast. I pass the White House, the Monument, the Mall and the Capitol.

I’m adjusting to working life- just wish it was permanent and paid! I really do love it though- my job requires me to write formal letters to African presidents, attend very interesting discussions at think tanks, such as Brookings and work alongside a group of individuals from very diverse backgrounds. My fingers are crossed that my hardwork pays off in the end.

Posted in Life | 1 Comment »

The 11th floor

April 10th, 2009 at 2:03 pm by Ashlea

So, this is the view from my desk… Life could be worse- I could be that poor chap dangling from the 11th floor!!!

Posted in Career | 1 Comment »

The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)

April 10th, 2009 at 7:50 am by Ashlea

Sooooo… I know the news is slightly delayed, but in my defense, I have been extremely busy! So, what is it? What is this world-shaking, sky-lighting news?

I am proud to announce that I, A&E, am the proud intern at The Corporate Council on Africa. I went for an interview on Friday and they hired me on the spot. I work in their new communications and marketing team. The office is located in the most ideal spot in the city, just above the Institute of Peace, and across the street from National Geographic and the ever-famous Mayflower hotel.

Well, let me backtrack a bit. I went for the National Geographic production assistant interview and all went splendidly. They said that the position would give me growth potential, that I wouldn’t just be doing administrative tasks and they would allow me, if all the admin was complete, to get more involved in editing etc. So, they called on a Wednesday and offered me the position (not that I am complaining, but with a salary that I wouldn’t be able to survive on, no medical etc.). So, I jumped at the opportunity regardless, as National Geographic would be such an awesome place to work. I said I just wanted to do some numbers in my head and I would give them a commitment the next day. When I called the next day, the hiring director said to me that she had to be very honest, that I was over-qualified and she feared I would get bored of the position, that there was no growth potential and my work would merely be excel spreadsheet formation and budgeting. Talk about putting a spanner in the works! We all decided I probably wasn’t the right fit, as they also wanted me to sign a 6-month contract! And with my visa situation and having to get sponsored for my H1B by Feb, it didn’t seem like a logical or wise choice.

So, the next day (after a severe meltdown) I got off my chair and decided I am going to get the internship. I was hired on the spot and started Monday 9 AM! At first I wasn’t completely sure about how I felt about doing an internship, but after day 1 they started giving me more work and more responsibility. I thrive best under pressure and yesterday was extremely busy! I loved it! I would like to move more towards the HIV/AIDS sector of the council, however, there is more opportunity in the communications division. I have so many great ideas to share with them, but am waiting to settle in and learn more about the inner workings of the council.

The CCA basically promotes trade between Africa and the US, through membership, government partnership, global summits and so forth. It’s a smallish non-profit with about 20-30 staff ranging from research assistants (what I want to do) and country specialists. My office is shared with another research assistant and the view is so beautiful. It’s on the 11th floor and looks over the city. Many of the past interns have been brought in full time, so hopefully (fingers crossed) I can prove my value to them! I really really really love the position and the cause.

Basically, I want a position that will allow me to travel to Africa, aid Africa from the US and make a lasting, meaningful difference. I am a firm believer in systemic change and sustainable development. I don’t believe sending aid to Africa without a long term benefit is the correct way to do things. I believe that through investment, whether it be in the financial, agribusiness, health, power or other specialized industries, Africa can grow and learn to support itself. It’s kind of like a child, metaphorically. If you keep on giving a child money every time he spends it, he’s never going to learn to save. However, if you give a child an investment, for example an investment or financial contribution to their education, then they can use that to create their own money and learn to be self-reliant.

I’m getting a little theoretical here!

Well, it’s Friday (my day off) and I’m off to scour the streets for a full time job (although I am slightly reluctant because I really love working at the CCA). Oh dear!

Posted in Career | 2 Comments »

Cherryblossoms

April 4th, 2009 at 1:53 pm by Ashlea

Today is the cherryblossom festival in DC! I am walking and typing on my iPhone right now… Walking past the Capitol as I type! The city is bustling and spring is in the air… so is hayfever and allergies!

I have my little lu bobblehead so check facebook for little lus pics of the festival.

I have great news so check back tomorrow for the revealing!

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Standing out of the crowd

April 1st, 2009 at 10:49 am by Ashlea

A friend recently directed me to an article that was in the LA Times, Crafting a resume that will grab recruiters. It has some great pointers and I have reevaluated my resume construction. It seems that with the failing economy it’s better to add a little flair to your portfolio as the competition is high! So put on your game face and get creative!

I basically tried to figure out what makes me different from every other applicant and then stressed those points to the ninth: African, African, African! I knew my nationality would eventually be a positive thing!


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Catch 22

March 24th, 2009 at 12:23 pm by Ashlea

So, one thing I don’t understand about the job market is that every position I see (even if it is an assistantship position) requires work experience… but please explain to me, how am I supposed to get more work experience if everything requires work experience?

Goodness Gracious! This truly frustrates me. I am going to write a book on job searching! I may make millions… create a job in the process – but then again, we’re in a recession: no one has money to spend on a silly book. But the book could be considered a worthy expense if it advises those unemployed individuals on which resources to pursue. But I would need money to start it off and time to dedicate- of which I have neither. As I’ve said before, job-searching is a full time job!

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