By Kate Oczypok - 08/05/08 03:48 PM EDT
Many companies in the District offer incentives to their employees to continue their education. Tuition reimbursement and flexible schedules are just some of the many opportunities area employees receive to get their master’s and beyond.
Hire Strategy is a privately held, executive recruiting and staffing firm headquartered in Reston. Hire Strategy also has an office in downtown D.C.
According to Steve Johnson, director of corporate communications, Hire Strategy was ranked the No. 1 staffing firm in D.C. by Washington Business Journal. It was also ranked as one of the best places to work.
Hire Strategy has about 50 employees on staff who are recruiters and another 175 who are contract employees that Hire Strategy places onsite with clients, Johnson said. Some of Hire Strategy’s clients include Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the AARP.
Johnson has been with Hire Strategy since its beginning in 2000. A Hill veteran, Johnson has worked on both the House and Senate sides for two former senators, Gaylord Nelson and John Culver, in the 1960s and 70s.
“I miss the Hill; it sort of gets in your blood,” Johnson said. “I came to D.C. to work on the Hill, and originally thought about going back to Iowa but I never went back.”
Since Hire Strategy is a recruiting firm, it helps match job seekers with the best opportunities for them, according to Johnson. “We offer basic education benefits, such as tuition reimbursement, but of course it’s on a case-by-case basis.”
The criterion for tuition assistance is that the work is related in some way to the work that the employee is doing for Hire Strategy. “For instance, if someone is in finance and needs to finish their accreditation for their CPA, we will help reimburse that,” Johnson said.
Johnson feels that college degrees are absolutely critical. “I have three master’s degrees myself. The more education you receive, the better employee and employer you become,” he said. “One of the interesting things about the D.C. market that sets it apart is that so many people employed in both the public and private sector are doing continuing education.”
All of Hire Strategy’s recruiters have four-year degrees and additional work in their specialization. “It’s not just brick-and-mortar university level courses, but a lot of technical courses as well, including IT skills and finance skills to keep them up to speed,” Johnson said.
Hire Strategy’s hiring process involves a rigorous series of interviews with CEO Paul Villella. Hire Strategy’s clients are called passive candidates, meaning that they are not out of a job but most are going nowhere in their current job and wish to make a change, according to Johnson.
Johnson said that he finds Hire Strategy a friendly place to work that matches his own work style.
“They’re flexible, and with gas prices as they are, it’s nice they allow us to do some telework,” he said.
Johnson’s best advice to those looking to seek higher education and their next career is to figure out what career path best suits you. Some are more comfortable in a corporate environment, with a very predictable career path, and others are more comfortable in a less formal, entrepreneurial environment, according to Johnson.
Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton has been one of the leading strategy and consulting firms for the past 90 years, according to Jennifer Rogers, an associate for the firm, commonly referred to as Booz Allen. In 2008, Fortune magazine named Booz Allen one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, and Working Mother magazine ranked it among its 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers every year since 1999.
“We serve clients on six continents and currently recognize 20,000 employees,” said Pat Golden, senior associate. “We offer tuition reimbursement at $5,000 per year and $2,500 for certification programs.”
Booz Allen also offers flexible scheduling and an extensive internal training program, encouraging participation in external conferences.
In addition to flexible full-time scheduling, Booz Allen offers part-time employment and job sharing in addition to teleworking. According to Rogers, job sharing requires that the responsibilities of an employee be shared and that there are other employees interested in the position as well.
“I think an advanced degree is expected in today’s job market; there are many more Ph.D.s than I’ve ever seen before,” Golden said. “We have lots of learning partnerships with colleges and universities and certification programs at a reduced rate and other things of that nature.”
Golden’s best advice to those seeking to advance their careers is to learn all they can about career development opportunities in their organization that they’re involved with. “Taking advantage of those opportunities is one of the most important things they can do,” she said. “Usually, management is very supportive of that.”
When an employee comes on board at Booz Allen, he or she takes four classes and participates in orientation, “Discover Booz Allen.” Golden said Booz Allen is a great place to work, and that its learning and development opportunities “are just phenomenal.”
Both Rogers and Golden encourage prospective hires to visit Booz Allen’s website for more information on how to get a job at the firm.