Employment Options for Evacuees

What should you know about re-entering the U.S. job market?

The success of a job search is dependent on a variety of factors, including demand for your profession, the health of the job market in your geographic area, and the economy in general.  However, an evacuation adds the additional twist of not knowing how long you will be in the U.S.  Therefore, looking for ppportunities for professional development during a period of evacuation may make the most sense.

To work, or not to work?

Evacuations are disruptive and emotional. They can also hit the pocketbook. Some evacuees prefer to find a job as a way to defray the cost of their temporary stay in the U.S. Others may choose not to work, or cannot work because of child care concerns. Whatever your decision, you can look upon the evacuation as an opportunity to do something to enhance your career. Consider opportunities that help maintain your career, continue your professional development, or further your personal growth. Your temporary stay in the U.S. can be a productive one. Identify activities that help build skills to add to your resume.

Remember that when it comes to job hunting, employers want to know about your knowledge, skills, and abilities--those KSA's! Experience on a resume does not have to be paid experience. Use the time to think about where you are at this point in your life and career and what you can do to develop your skills and get to the next level. If your goal is to maintain your career, identify the occupational area you wish to pursue, think about what you can do to increase your knowledge, skills, and abilities in area you have chosen then look for related opportunities. Prefer to volunteer? In addition to personal growth, consider if there are skills from your volunteer experience that can be transferred to a resume later on. Focusing on something other than the separation from your loved one at post, or your belongings back at post, should help to make the evacuation less painful.

What are some career or personal development options for evacuees?

Temporary Employment
Temporary employment agencies offer short-term, hourly job opportunities, usually without benefits. Many are clerical in nature and may be of interest, depending on your situation. Temporary Employment Agencies in the Washington, DC Area


Training Opportunities
Foreign Service Institute Transition Center Training Course List
A variety of courses for eligible family members in the areas of Foreign Service Life, Personal and Financial Planning, Foreign Service Families, Going Overseas, Expanding Employment Options, Returning to Washington, and Security Overseas. Registration Information

See FLO's Training / Workshops

Distance Learning
If you have access to a computer, distance learning classes may be for you. Taking classes over the Internet lets you increase your education and build your skills, while giving you a flexible schedule. Distance learning classes on a variety of topics are offered by many institutions including local community colleges, universities, and even the NFATC. If you are not aware of the distance learning opportunities available for Department of State employees and their family members, you will want to browse through the course offerings listed in the following resource, Distance Learning Classes.

Professional Development
Short-term, professional development opportunities abound, depending on your occupational area. For example, are you interested in computers? Many community colleges offer courses on Internet basics, Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. Local counties also have community education programs and may offer computer courses for their county residents. Generally the cost is very reasonable. Visit a local library or call a reference librarian to find out what is available in your area.

Also, check with your local community college for the non-credit community education classes. The broad range of topics offered varies from semester to semester. Some workshops may be for a few hours. Others may have two class meetings. All are short-term. Colleges often give continuing education credits (CEUs) upon completion of non-credit courses.

Joining a professional organization, attending the organization's meetings, and interacting with professionals in your field helps you stay current on the latest developments in your profession. This also allows you to network and learn more about opportunities for professional development.

Colleges and Universities and Adult Education Opportunities - These are links to all colleges and universities in the DC area. Also, there is a link to Peterson's which has a search engine site specifically for doing this. Some distance learning links are also noted. Specific programs are not highlighted, just general links.

Personal Development
Personal development opportunities will depend on your individual preference. For example, have you always wanted to learn CPR, but never had the time to take a class? What about financial planning classes, or even culinary classes? Opportunities are out there. It will be up to you to identify what you want, then seek out specific opportunities in your area. An Internet search or a visit to a local library can get you started.

Contact your local community college or university for a listing of non-credit community education classes in each Schedule of Classes. You can also find information on web sites of academic institutions, such as http://www.nvcc.edu (Northern Virginia Community College) and http://www.umd.edu (University of Maryland).

The Career Development Resource Center (CDRC) provides career information and offers workshops on career development. The workshops are also listed in The Network, Family Liaison Office's email subscription service for Foreign Service family members seeking employment in the Washington D.C. area.  Subscribe now!


Volunteer opportunities exist in all communities. You may want to volunteer your time with a school, hospital, museum, food bank, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or some other organization. Decide what type of work appeals to you, then check the Washington Post or your local paper, community newsletters, or a local library for volunteer opportunities in your area.

The Washington Post has a free publication called The Community Service Source that lists organizations in the metropolitan area in need of volunteers. To obtain a copy, call Greater DC Cares at 202-777-4440. 

Sample volunteer activities include:

  • The National Park Service (202-485-5825) often has positions that allow you to educate visitors about history, preservation, and conservation. For example, one can volunteer to be a Ford's Theatre tour guide, Rock Creek Park Horse Center volunteer, "trail partner" at Greenbelt Park, or a visitor-center volunteer at Prince William Forest Park.  Volunteer opportunities at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts can be found here and include volunteer positions such as ranger, volunteer at Theater-in-the-Woods, and usher.  
  • Habitat for Humanity. No experience is required. Volunteers can learn how to frame, roof, drywall, and landscape and sign up for only one day, or several days. Local chapters include: DC 202-882-4600; Northern Virginia 703-521-9890; Montgomery County 301-990-0014 ext. 18; and Prince George's County 301-779-1912.
  • The Friends of the National Zoo or FONZ (202-633-3025) offers a variety of opportunities.
  • Smithsonian (202-633-1000) Monday through Friday, volunteers help out in the museum archives, conservation labs, and curatorial divisions.  Volunteers get a discount at Smithsonian shops, restaurants, food courts, and Associates memberships!

Other Resources

Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office