How I Survived 3 Government Shutdowns and 3 Ways to Keep Moving Forward

Once you get a good government job, you’re set for life. – everybody

Once upon a time, this was the most frequent career advice I heard. But, my heart has always been set on entrepreneurship. The journey to full-time entrepreneurship is filled with peaks and valleys. In fact, it takes a ton of ups and downs before you can fully commit to doing the work you love, full-time. I’m writing to share my journey to success as a source of inspiration in the midst of the current government shutdown, impacting 800,000+ furloughed government workers. Keep the faith, there is sunshine after the rain.

As a native of Huntsville, AL– it was very common for people to aspire to work for the federal government in some capacity. Whether working for NASA, on Redstone Arsenal, or working for a top government contracting company, like Northrop Grumman— many ambitious professionals hope to one day land a career in the federal government. When I graduated from The University of Alabama, I walked across that stage into a world of confusion: So I graduated, now what? Does the career field I chose to pursue owe me a job? Is anyone even hiring for my skill set? Wait, what kind of job do I even want?!

After a heap of questions and curveballs, I decided it was time for me to take control of my destiny by attending graduate school. After taking the GRE and submitting applications, I received my acceptance letter from Kennesaw State University and relocated to Atlanta. The funny thing was– I didn’t quite have a job lined up. Although I’d gotten a job “in my field” soon after graduation, I knew that my purpose was much bigger than what I was doing at the time. So, I was almost ALWAYS applying for a job. My non-stop job application submissions paid off once I got a call back from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Regional Office, located in Atlanta, GA. This was a game-changer. I’d been accepted into the Pathways Student Internship Program, which allowed me to serve as an intern in a federal agency, while pursuing my graduate degree. That’s right, at 22, I found myself a full-time employee of the federal government– a GS and all.

Is this the Pathway for me?

Ahh, a good government job. You’d think I’d be ecstatic and grateful for the chance to work for THE feds, but once I started working day-to-day, I quickly learned it wasn’t the best career path for me, personally. After this realization, I put all of my energy into building my brand, Giselle Ave. I took on freelance work, volunteered my time, traveled, and made it my personal mission to find and do the work I love– in spite of what everyone was telling me about my “good government job.” In hindsight, I’m so glad I followed my heart, because I would not be the woman I am today if I actually took the world’s advice on my personal career path.

The one thing that stood out to me was the lack of inspired work within the office I interned in. There wasn’t a lot of high energy, purpose-filled work being done. It was more so “come to work, get your check, and go home.” Additionally, I was seeking a challenge and simply could not find that in the role I was in. Most people would be completely fine with doing the least, as long as they got their paycheck–but frankly, that was never me.

This experience alone brought me closer to my dreams, and further away from what society deemed as a success story. After working at the U.S. DOL for 3 and a half years, I was finally given an opportunity to get out.

During the Barack Obama administration, a 16-day government shutdown occurred during October 2013 over Democrats and Republicans not coming to an agreement for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare.

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Everyone in the office treated this news as if it were a joke. “Oh the government is probably going to shut down. This is what we will do in case this takes place.” I will never forget the day this actually happened. As a young, millennial, eager to find my way in this competitive job market, I felt the agony of knowing that guess what– that good “government job” was actually a myth. In fact, even the government can close its doors, and leave you on your own to figure out how you will eat, pay your bills, or eventually pay off your student loans.

It was during this time that I decided I would never put my fate in someone else’s hands, and my entrepreneurial spirit instantly filled me with hope, inspiration, and determination.

After a few weeks of submitting applications, I received a job offer in the private sector, submitted my resignation letter, turned in my badge— and never looked back.

Year 2013 marked the end of my “good government job” days and the beginning of an ongoing journey of discovering my unique talents and gifts that would later lead me to working full-time here on Giselle Ave.

Government Contractors are Still Paid by the Government

In 2014, within 6-months of leaving the feds as a full-time employee, I found myself right back in the midst of the federal government culture, but this time as a consultant. I thought, maybe working as a consultant for the government would put me in a safe zone. I mean, I don’t work for the government, I work as a consultant, and it’s totally different, right? Well, not exactly. Depending on the contractor, you, too, will be sent home (with out without pay) in the event of a government shutdown. #TheGag 

Three funding gaps have occurred during the Donald Trump administration: a three-day shutdown during January 2018; a funding gap that occurred overnight on February 9, 2018, which did not result in workers being furloughed.

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How I Survived 3 Government Shutdown and 3 Ways to Keep Moving Forward

As of July 2018, I no longer work for or in the space of the federal government — at all.

That makes not 1, not 2, but 3 government shutdowns that I’ve managed to survive (I’m alive and writing this blog post) and I’m writing to share a few words of encouragement and ways you, too, can turn your pain into power in the midst of a political storm that is impacting you directly.

Revisit your personal life goals.

Since I became a full-time entrepreneur, I find time in my schedule that simply didn’t exist when I was working my 9-5. I’ve been able to spend more time reading, studying new outlooks on the universe as we know it, and I am faithful to my workout routine. Mainly, because I’m not exhausting myself day in and day out, helping my employers’ dreams come true. Just saying.

Consider yourself currently out of the rat race– and use this time to revisit your personal life goals. Are you ready to take back your health? Have you been trying to visit the new local museum in your community? Do you want to reconnect with friends from college? Do you want to learn a new foreign language? Do you want to be a better mother, father, brother or sister? Do it, and do it right now!

Keep the Faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Our country has lost faith. We see what is taking place in D.C. and on social media and we think: is there any hope for our country, under its’ current leadership? The truth is, regardless of our country’s leadership, we as a country somehow find a way to press on, push forward, and keep chartering new territories that generations before us have never seen before. Did we ever think there would be an African-America president, or a Congress full of minority women? Probably not. But faith makes room for the unknown, and I am a firm believer in faith being the greatest anchor in overcoming obstacles and creating the best victorious moments in life. #KeepTheFaith

Commit to creating your own success story.

Call me your average millennial, but I have always been fond of creating my own success story. This doesn’t mean you have to be an entrepreneur, but you can commit to finding success that is solely dependent on you– not an institution. What is your favorite hobby, or past time? Think of yourself prior to attending college and/or “becoming an adult.” This is the person you truly are, and you can find success in embracing every part of you that exists outside of your job title. If you wanted to be a writer, dancer, artist, painter, video blogger, comedian, film critic, a culinary artist—- whatever it may be, go for it! Now is the perfect time to tap into those natural talents of yours. This newfound appreciation may evolve into another stream of income, who knows?! And no, you’re not being silly in doing so– you’re being true to who you really are.

To be frank, the only job security that exists is the job security you create for yourself.

I’m praying for those directly impacted by the current government shutdown, but my faith and hope lies in things beyond this earthly realm and I know the best version of YOURSELF— may in fact, come to life, in the midst of this current storm.

I hope my story inspires you to keep moving forward. Feel free to email me if you’d like to talk about your next steps in lieu of the current shutdown, because I know your best days are ahead! 

Until this current storm is over,

 

Belle in the City

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Featured Photo by Will H McMahan on Unsplash

Author: Belle__Giselle

Founder & CEO fo Giselle Ave. #BelleInTheCity

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