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4 Ways the Government Shutdown can help you Career

Updated: May 16, 2018

Are you worried how the federal government shutdown (and the ones to come) will affect your future? Check out the 4 tips below to learn how the shutdown can help you earn more money, and become a BOSS.

As most of you know, I am in the startup years of my business. What you may not know is the reason I choose to leave that ‘good paying, federal job.’ It was the government shutdown of 2013.

Years of negative talk towards federal workers, wimpy pay raises, skyrocketing healthcare premiums, and furloughs. Now I was considered non-essential and told to stay home. It was illegal to work. Like many of you today, I spent the time leading up to the shutdown angry. I was mad at the senators, furious with the representatives, and let down the President. How could this happen?

And here we are again. I know it’s easy to sulk. I spent the first two weeks of the 2013 shutdown doing just that. Then I realized that I wasn’t mad about the pay. I was mad about the control. The lack of control I had over my paycheck- my family’s stability- my self-worth.

So I made a plan. Then I took action.

In October 2014, exactly one year after the shutdown I filed the paperwork for my business. The rest is history.

I want to encourage those impacted by the shutdown to use this as the motivation you need to start that business you have been talking about for years. Or start small. Sign up for that training you need to get to the next phase of your career. Professional development classes count as a deduction on your taxes. Or you can use classes as a start-up expense for your future LLC, sole proprietorship or corporation.

Not sure where to start? A few always in-demand and transferable skills are in grant writing, technical writing, and editing.

Here are four ways to keep yourself busy- and further your career- no matter how long this shutdown lasts.

1) Web-based training: For low cost, web-based courses I recommend ED2GO. The ed2go network consists of more than 2,100 top colleges, universities, and other organizations.

Most courses run for six weeks and are composed of 12 lessons, representing 24 hours of instruction. You can ask questions and give or receive advice at any time during the course. I have taken classes many classes from ed2go ranging from topics on marketing to French. Want to save money? Go through a local nonprofit registered with the website to score discounted rates.

2) Face to Face Training: I have taken many online courses, but nothing beats face to face interaction, mentor-ship, and networking. I have met some of my closest business allies at training courses. If you can, make time for at least one. Prince Georges Community College offers a wide range of courses. Many of them award certificates in desirable fields, like project management or real estate.

They also offer 1-day classes. When I was first interested in grant writing, I took an Intro 2 Grant Writing course similar to the Grant Writing Express I am hosting in March. Before then I had never actually written any piece of a grant, so it was nice to meet folks interested in the nonprofit world. In that course, we worked on developing a mission statement and project outline. In Grant writing express, participants will review sample grants and practice writing a few parts of a grant proposal.

I am also hosting Grant Writing Boot camp: Federal Grants a 2 day ‘deep dive’ in federal grant writing this February for people interested in pursuing grant writing as a career or applying for large grants. I am offering a special discount to federal employees and contractors- message me for details.

3) Volunteering: I got my first experience working with several nonprofits through Volunteer Match. Volunteer Match is a community that believes in the power of volunteering to enrich our lives and the world around us. Use volunteer match to find virtual and in-person opportunities. Help organizations that work for the causes that you love. I was so fortunate to work with Ti Kay Haiti which helps Haitians with tuberculosis and HIV. I also worked with Inspired Leaders who served vulnerable teens in Miami Florida. Talk about range.

Volunteer Match also linked me up with a sweet gig playing an elf during a recent Holiday Toy Giveaway in Alexandria, Va. The best part- volunteer experience counts just as much as professional experience.

Upset your manager won’t let you take that Marketing class you need to become a supervisor? No worries, there’s a Volunteer Match for you.

4) Business Development: Whether you have an established business, are looking to start one, or are somewhere in between- learning should never stop. I think many people never start their business or move forward in their career because they need ‘more classes.’ Well, a free or low cost to get that training is through the MD Small Business Development Center or the DC Small Business Resource Center. I am registered for both and take classes frequently. In fact, there is a class on procurement that you will find me at this week. I recently received four small business certifications from MD’s Office of Minority Business Enterprise. These are powerful tools used to find partners and win lucrative government contracts. Now, I have to learn how to use this to my advantage and win a government contract.

Both agencies also offer intro level classes like starting a business and nonprofit 101. You can also check out the Free 1 hr Grant Writing 101 training that I offer. I have one coming up on Feb 3 that is currently full- but I will post more in the future.

So, why wait? Don’t spend the shutdown moping in your pajamas or drinking beer at noon. What will you be doing during the shutdown? How does this shutdown impact your life?

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