The D.C. (Metro Area) in Me

This blog post is part of a collection created by various Human Resources professionals. This “Carnival” of HR posts centers around the theme of HR and Home. To read the rest of the collection click here. You’ll be glad you did!

When I was little, I was (and still am) a Washington D.C. sports fan. The person I grew idolizing was not a player, it was then Washington Redskins General Manager, Charley Casserly. He started as an unpaid intern for the Redskins and worked his way up to General Manager. I wanted to follow the same path like he did, but later in life I realized being a general manager is a 24/7/365 job and I would have no shot of handling sports management. At George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, I was trying find myself to figure out what should my career be after college. One day, a career counselor forward me the information about SHRM (the Society of Human Resource Management) and it had everything I was looking for in my career: scouting (recruiting/talent acquisition), negotiations, and training and development. It was then that I wanted to go into human resources.

As soon I knew my career path, I started my career in nonprofits (by accident) and ever since I have been am a HR/recruiting  non-profiteer. I enjoy working for non-profits because non-profits they work towards a cause that goes beyond themselves. Although there are budget restraints and fewer resources, that makes HR challenging and rewarding because there’s a purpose of why you are doing the work and the mission is clear.

When I go to networking events in Washington D.C., people always ask, “Where you from?” I always say, “From Fairfax.” If I go outside the D.C. area, I always answer, “I live in the D.C. Metro Area” or, “outside of D.C.” to save the explanation of where Fairfax is.

When outsiders think of Washington D.C., they immediately think of terms like “federal city,” “transient,” and “traffic.” All these are fair terms as people who live in the D.C. area mostly stay for a short while. It is the ultimate “temp” city. I consider myself the exception since I was born, raised, and still living in Fairfax. Part of it is stubbornness (mostly from my parents), but most of it is identifies who I am: the melting pot culture, the landmarks, the sports teams (as you know), and the people.

To understand my area better, you have to understand the demographics in the D.C. Metro area. Northern Virginia is home of a lot of government contracting/consulting groups; Southern Maryland has biotechnology and Discovery Communications (Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, OWN); and D.C. basically has everything, including numerous non-profits. This is why I’m more associated to the HRA-NCA SHRM chapter than my hometown Northern Virginia, but both are great chapters (and don’t forget the Dulles and Montgomery County Chapters)

People come and go in the D.C. Metro area, but there are a few that stayed around you might know: Ben Gotkin, who founded recruitDC; Jessica Lee; Kelly Dingee; Susan LaMotte; Bob Corlett; Gary Cluff; Pete Radloff; Rob Lockard; Rachelle Falls; Lars Schmidt; if you want to know what managers think, ask Alison Green; if you want to know the demographics in D.C. in depth, go to Stephen Fuller; and finally the biggest stars of HR in the D.C. Metro area: SHRM, since their headquarters are in Alexandria, VA.

Although D.C. still remains a “federal city,” the area is trying to shed that label. Hospitality companies such as Hilton Worldwide and Crestline have moved to the D.C. area to compete with Marriott. The tech startup scene is thriving again since AOL were the internet pioneers in the mid 1990s with LivingSocial and a vibrant networking hub that is committed to the D.C. area.

It might be D.C. is a “federal city” now, but it will soon identify what it should strive for and I believe in and that D.C. is an all-purpose area…but don’t tell Fairfax County.

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