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Stimulus Job Hunt Success Stories

Stimulus Job Hunt Success Stories

Wondering who’s getting those jobs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)? We talked to some workers with economic stimulus success stories and tapped them for tips to help you in your job search.

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When his contract at the Savannah River Site (SRS), a Department of Energy nuclear storage and processing facility in Aiken, South Carolina, ran out in 2007, Jim Flora took a contract at another DOE facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico. “That was two years of travel for work because of no funding for work here in South Carolina,” he says.

His 1,400-mile commute ended in June, when Flora landed a technical training job at SRS, one of 3,000 positions expected to be saved or created by more than $1.6 billion in ARRA funding to accelerate decommissioning of nuclear facilities and clean up contaminated areas of the site. “I’m on a team that develops and provides technical training for operations personnel, from the use of a fork truck to preparing licensing agreements to handling waste,” he says. More than 1,600 jobs are now open at SRS. Search for SRS jobs on Monster or visit the Department of Energy Web site for more information.

While working in New Mexico, Flora made sure SRS knew of his desire to return and actively looked for opportunities. “People have a tendency to think others will do the legwork, but you have to be willing to go to any lengths, to make phone calls, submit your own resume and follow up,” he says.

Finding a Job on the Road Again

Bob Petrak had a good career supervising projects and paving crews until the economy began flagging, and heavy construction projects like road- and bridge-building dried up. He was unemployed for two months before landing a gig as a paving superintendent for Laskey-Clifton in Reedsport, Oregon.

The company was awarded $5 million for an ARRA-funded asphalt paving project. The contract allowed Laskey-Clifton to save 15 jobs and add seven more. Petrak, a member of Operating Engineers Local 701, learned of the superintendent opening through the local union business agent.

Competition for stimulus jobs is high, he says. “Have a positive attitude and a strong will to work and perform on the job,” he says. “You have to be skilled in the work and rely on your experience and education to get a job. Sell yourself and your abilities.”

Roundabout Recovery

Not all stimulus success stories are so direct. Mia Burroughs, a part-time grant writer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has added new clients who are seeking ARRA funding.

“Since I started my business seven years ago, I’ve written half a dozen federal proposals,” she says. “Since March 20, I’ve written three federal proposals that have the word ‘recovery’ all over them. I added one client who is specifically looking for stimulus dollars, and I’ve written another six for the Department of Justice that are brand-new initiatives and I’m sure are stimulus-related. My production was one federal proposal per year, and now it’s three a month.”

Though Burroughs expects her stimulus-related business to slow as the federal government completes the allocation process, she’s confident opportunities will continue to come up periodically. “Interested grant writers can keep a close eye on Grants.gov,” she says. “New grants are being announced daily, so there is no telling when one will show up that works for an existing or prospective client.”

Relieved and Rehired

Union laborer and single mother Tracey Williams had been out of work for five months when her former employer, General Constructors Inc. in Bettendorf, Iowa, called her back to work on an ARRA-funded bridge repair project. It’s one of two ARRA-funded projects that allowed the company to rehire 17 people -- including Williams -- and add four new workers.

“There are a lot of people still [looking] in our [Laborers Union] Local 309 hall,” she says. “It’s taken a long time for the stimulus to get to this area.”

Her advice for job seekers? Don’t lose hope. “There are always going to be bad times, but good times are ahead,” she says. “There’s always hope.”

Ready to stimulate your own personal economy? Check out our Stimulus Jobs Guide for more advice and opportunities in your state, and look for additional ARRA job postings on USAJOBS.gov.

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