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Posted: 10/30/2015 7:55:14 PM EDT
Hello all.
Should I take a job working for the VA? Pay is low and career growth seems questionable. This job is located in White River Junction on the border between Vermont and New Hampshire so anyone with knowledge of the area or experience working at one of the smaller VA Medical Centers please chime in.

Situation: My last job was temporary and it ended on 31 July. I have been searching for a new job since the beginning of March. I've had interviews but this job with the VA is the only solid offer. ( I am a 13 year Navy Vet myself.) There seems to be more job possibilities where I currently live but no solid offers have materialized. I would like a government job due to stability and good benefits so I am hesitant to turn the job down.

I will need to pay for my own relocation $$. After so much time in the military I am very tired of moving and I would like to settle in one area.

The area is rural but nice. I'm really concerned that the VA medical center is too small to offer a good chance for career advancement. I am not a doctor, nurse or researcher, nor do I have any background in healthcare admin.

The job is classified as general management. I found out that there are 24 people at this location with same job series, but no idea what the pay grades are. I would like to someday become a GS13 or GS14. I'm not sure if that can happen here, and there aren't any other government jobs in the area. There aren't any good employment options for my wife either. The job is similar to work I was doing in 2007-2010. I will probably get bored after a year or so. Although I am unemployed, I am in EXCELLENT financial shape. I am not in a panic at all, but I hate being unoccupied.

The location is close to family. They live 2 hours away, so close enough to visit an a regular basis, but not close enough for them to watch my son on short notice. Pay is low, much lower than what I used to make and the cost of living seems to be slightly higher, housing is an additional $400 per month, childcare is slightly more, even gym membership is almost double. I will get hit with paying Vermont income taxes, but I will likely live in New Hampshire which has very high property tax. It's a double whammy.

Summary

Pros

It is my only solid job offer.
It is a government job with stability and good benefits.
Lots of outdoor fun in the area, hiking, skiing, shooting. I could possibly purchase my own land to shoot on someday.
Family is only 2 hours away.
Satisfaction of serving veterans.



Cons

Pay is low. It was the absolute bare minimum that I would consider. I am also near the top of the pay range so it isn't going up very much in the future.
Small hospital and prospects for promotion are questionable. Not many other jobs in the area for me or my wife and I really don't want to keep relocating.
I need to pay for my own move from Pennsylvania to Vermont. Moving in cold weather sucks.
Slightly higher cost of living. Higher taxes, higher utilities.
My wife will probably get bored living out in the country.

Neutral

Schools seem to be a wash. There aren't many school choices in a rural area. If I move to the right area, the schools are top-notch, otherwise they suck, so there is no middle ground. The schools where I live now seem to be average / ok.

So should I take the job and make the best of whatever comes, or do I pass and pray for something better in the next 5-6 months?
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 7:59:50 PM EDT
[#1]
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:02:32 PM EDT
[#2]
It's a great area for outdoors stuff. Some of the best ski/board mtns in the East will be minutes away. Summers in Vermont are nice too, mtn biking, kayaking, etc. You can get to Boston or Manchester NH pretty quick if you had to fly somewhere. Your wife might have a tough time finding a job up there though, there isn't much industry outside of tourism.

I always said if I could actually find a job in Vermont I'd move in a heartbeat.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:05:15 PM EDT
[#3]
Money talks and bullshit walks.

Take the job as a resume builder and keep looking.  Employer's don't like gaps in work history.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:06:05 PM EDT
[#4]
I am from VT. Beautiful area.
The weather is not as bad as you hear.
It does snow, it can get cold but it does not last long.
They snow how to handle snow.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:06:54 PM EDT
[#5]
if only job offer vs being unemployed take the job, it'll build character
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:09:32 PM EDT
[#6]
I am from New England so the weather doesn't scare me at all. What scares me is the possibility of getting stuck in a dead end job in my mid-30's. Of course perpetual unemployment also scares me.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:11:35 PM EDT
[#7]
I lived in W. Lebanon and Lebanon from the time I was 9 until the summer after I graduated HS. You'd better like the cold. I got nothing about what the area is like today, I've been gone since 1985. There's a Taco Bell now. The nearest one when I was growing up was in Springfield, MA.


Does your job translate into civy side ? My dad worked at the VA in WRJ and mom worked for Dartmouth and quite a few people worked both at the VA and at Hitchcock.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:19:50 PM EDT
[#8]
Quoted:
Hello all.

The area is rural but nice. I'm really concerned that the VA medical center is too small to offer a good chance for career advancement. I am not a doctor, nurse or researcher, nor do I have any background in healthcare admin.
View Quote


This is kind of a pain in the ass -- in a lot of internal hire positions you need a specific time in a specific grade for advancement. for instance, I'm a GS5 -- A job opening for a GS7 job that I'm overqualified for on paper opened up and I applied. I was denied because I don't have time as a GS6 for a year and the job went to an external hire with less education and experience because the time in grade requirement only affects current employees. It's convoluted system of advancement is kind of bullshit.

One the flipside, if you want to become a doctor, nurse, or researcher for advancement, after 1 year of service you can apply for the VANEEP program which will change your job to student and send you to a school to get initial certification for a title 38 job -- they pay the tuition up to a certain amount as well as your salary you'd normally get paid. I'm going to be applying for it if I get accepted into a BSN program I'm applying to next month.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:24:01 PM EDT
[#9]
You wont find a better job with great pay.Iam a civil service retiree,
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:32:51 PM EDT
[#10]

I worked at the WRJ VA as a resident.  It's staffed by a lot of interns/residents/attendings from Dartmouth.  It's a great area for outdoor activity.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 8:34:36 PM EDT
[#11]
The area is still very rural. I like it, but it's a long drive to anywhere and everyone will get to know your business. Threre's some culture, thanks to the Dartmouth crowd. Of course, that also means the area is very liberal. The locals are a little more sensible, but they're yankees so they won't accept you for several years. Lots of dead mill towns around. Most young people leave for more opportunities.

Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
I am from VT. Beautiful area.
The weather is not as bad as you hear.
It does snow, it can get cold but it does not last long.
They snow how to handle snow.
View Quote


Link Posted: 10/30/2015 9:31:00 PM EDT
[#12]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
The area is still very rural. I like it, but it's a long drive to anywhere and everyone will get to know your business. Threre's some culture, thanks to the Dartmouth crowd. Of course, that also means the area is very liberal. The locals are a little more sensible, but they're yankees so they won't accept you for several years. Lots of dead mill towns around. Most young people leave for more opportunities.



View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
The area is still very rural. I like it, but it's a long drive to anywhere and everyone will get to know your business. Threre's some culture, thanks to the Dartmouth crowd. Of course, that also means the area is very liberal. The locals are a little more sensible, but they're yankees so they won't accept you for several years. Lots of dead mill towns around. Most young people leave for more opportunities.

Quoted:
I am from VT. Beautiful area.
The weather is not as bad as you hear.
It does snow, it can get cold but it does not last long.
They snow how to handle snow.




Only from like November to April.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 9:32:30 PM EDT
[#13]
Take the job. You can always put in for a transfer/promotion at some other location.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 10:49:58 PM EDT
[#14]
Uh, transfer to where? Find a new school (one that doesn't suck) and doctor and other medical services for my son...then try to find a job for my wife? Relocating is never that simple, that is why I am hesitant to work in a location with only one employer and no other prospects if this job turns out to be less than what I expected.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 10:55:19 PM EDT
[#15]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
if only job offer vs being unemployed take the job, it'll build character
View Quote


I would say this. However, having worked for the VA and experiencing their weapons grade ineptitude first hand, I would be actively looking for other work while there. Unless you are a glutton for punishment. That place is the embodiment of 20% doing 80% of the work.
Link Posted: 10/30/2015 11:03:05 PM EDT
[#16]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


I would say this. However, having worked for the VA and experiencing their weapons grade ineptitude first hand, I would be actively looking for other work while there. Unless you are a glutton for punishment. That place is the embodiment of 20% doing 80% of the work.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
if only job offer vs being unemployed take the job, it'll build character


I would say this. However, having worked for the VA and experiencing their weapons grade ineptitude first hand, I would be actively looking for other work while there. Unless you are a glutton for punishment. That place is the embodiment of 20% doing 80% of the work.


Based on what my dad told me, you must have worked in the VAMC side. He said the VARO side was far worse.
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 1:14:22 AM EDT
[#17]
Take it - (1) it's income, and (2) it gets you in as a "status candidate" for other gov jobs that pay higher.
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 1:39:10 AM EDT
[#18]
Go, get your three years in to become a career status employee and your time in grade.  Then transfer.  It sucks, but that will be your best bet.  My brother was in the VA in a general manager position and did a number of transfers.  Get in and get your benefits going.  Once you are in a federal job, it is much easier to move around and to different agencies then coming in from the outside.

Take it, and then move up.  If you don't want to keep it, you can always move on.  Keep that unemployment gap down.  You might have to sacrifice for a while, but in a few years, I would imagine you will be better off.  The benefits alone, especially for health care costs and retirement will most likely offset the other costs.
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 1:42:37 AM EDT
[#19]
If you don't mind working for the VA, do it.

Get vetted and then transfer somewhere.

I couldn't stand working for the VA, the passive aggressive culture drove me nuts.
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 1:45:33 AM EDT
[#20]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


Based on what my dad told me, you must have worked in the VAMC side. He said the VARO side was far worse.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
if only job offer vs being unemployed take the job, it'll build character


I would say this. However, having worked for the VA and experiencing their weapons grade ineptitude first hand, I would be actively looking for other work while there. Unless you are a glutton for punishment. That place is the embodiment of 20% doing 80% of the work.


Based on what my dad told me, you must have worked in the VAMC side. He said the VARO side was far worse.


Non invasive cardiology in the new hospital. I made it 7 months before tossing my PIV card to my managing practitioner and telling him I was out. Walked out that day at 5pm and never went back. I feel awful for anyone who utilizes their health care, or lack thereof.

Work the same job private sector now and make $8 more an hour. See 3x the patients and have half the work load.
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 1:46:50 AM EDT
[#21]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
If you don't mind working for the VA, do it.

Get vetted and then transfer somewhere.

I couldn't stand working for the VA, the passive aggressive culture drove me nuts.
View Quote


QFE
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 1:51:03 AM EDT
[#22]
Exact job title would help
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 1:35:34 PM EDT
[#23]
The job title is Government Information Specialist. It is mostly a program manager/Admin job with some IT involved.
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 8:32:57 PM EDT
[#24]
I worked at the same VA for 31 years and 6 months.  That VA was in the Southeast.  Your VA may be different.  OP, pm me if you want to hear about my experiences.  I cannot post them in a public forum.
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 8:33:48 PM EDT
[#25]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
I worked at the same VA for 31 years and 6 months.  That VA was in the Southeast.  Your VA may be different.  OP, pm me if you want to hear about my experiences.  I cannot post them in a public forum.
View Quote



VAMC or VARO?
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 9:22:21 PM EDT
[#26]
VA is a good starter agency to begin your career in the .Gov, if that's what you're going to do.



Stay long enough to get your competitive service tenure and then you can apply for jobs with different agencies that are limited to career members of the competitive serivce.




Also, to get promoted to GS13 or 14 in the Government, you will have to move.  That's just the way it is.




I am a GS15, working in my 3rd government agency.  It took me 10 years to get to 15.  It would have took me 30 if I had stayed in the same location.




Did GS7-GS13 at VA.  Then 13 and 14 with Dept Army and GS 15 with my current agency (which I'd rather not name).




I moved, while at VA to go from 12 to 13.  (PA, DE)




I moved while at Dept. Army to go from 13 to 14. (MD, NJ, MD)




Then went to my current agency in DE while living in PA.










Nobody, repeat, nobody is going to hand you anything in .gov.




Run your career like a business and go where the market demand is.










In short, go take the job, get your competitive service tenure and pursue opportunities as a .gov "insider" as they arise.






Link Posted: 10/31/2015 9:30:08 PM EDT
[#27]
look at housing cost. Vermont is freakin expensive
Link Posted: 10/31/2015 9:43:11 PM EDT
[#28]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
look at housing cost. Vermont is freakin expensive
View Quote

Link Posted: 10/31/2015 9:53:29 PM EDT
[#29]
I'm local to WRJ.

White River is a funky little place, but it is right across the river from West Lebanon NH and Lebanon, NH.  All the shopping you want (tax free) is there.  Just up the road a piece is Hanover NH and Dartmouth College.  Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) is one of the finest fucking hospitals in the world - bar none.  And it has a strong affiliation with the VA hospital in Hartford (WRJ is one of 5 villages that is technically Hartford VT.)

The current inventory for rentals apartments is just about zero.  Housing can be tough to find.

ETA, there are a lot of jobs in the Upper Valley.  Check out Indeed.com for the area - Lots of tech and skilled IT etc., openings..

Link Posted: 10/31/2015 11:39:46 PM EDT
[#30]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
I am from New England so the weather doesn't scare me at all. What scares me is the possibility of getting stuck in a dead end job in my mid-30's. Of course perpetual unemployment also scares me.
View Quote


You do realize that your active duty time counts towards retirement with the VA correct?

13 years active duty and in mid thirties you say, you will have retirement benefits in your early forties!

Also, once you are in the VA system you will find it easier to move within the system if you choose to. I say go for it but maybe rent first and see how you like it.

Where in PA are you?

Any chance of a VA job closer to home?
Link Posted: 11/1/2015 4:30:14 PM EDT
[#31]
I am between Harrisburg and York. Lots of Govt jobs here and I probably applied for 70+. This is the only offer so far, but not in PA.
Link Posted: 11/1/2015 8:59:36 PM EDT
[#32]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Money talks and bullshit walks.

Take the job as a resume builder and keep looking.  Employer's don't like gaps in work history.
View Quote



solid advice.
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