While government employment is in high demand, it can be difficult to even know where to start to find a federal job. Luckily, Brad Traverse, director of government relations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, can help. In his spare time, Traverse runs Brad Traverse Jobs, a service designed to help people in the D.C. region find employment with the government.
ABERMAN: Well, this show, What’s Working in Washington, is about people who get things done. For many people listening, I think that there’s a stereotype that people who work with the government aren’t interested in making things happen. Why do you think that misunderstanding exists?
TRAVERSE: You rely on media too much, and mis-perceptions about what a lobbyist is. The old throwback was the fat guy with a cigar taking money and being influenced. That’s really never been much of the case, and even less so now. Government relations is really research, analysis, information gathering, sharing that information, and trying to make whatever world you live in a little bit better. I’m in healthcare. My goal is to try to make insurance affordable, and a quality product for everybody, in my instance from the state of Tennessee.
The one thing I’ve realized working in D.C. is that these are the smartest, most committed people I’ve ever seen, and they’re dedicated to moving product. There was a congressman who used that term all the time, his goal was to get bills passed, and he wanted to move product, and I’ve always been driven to do the same. And that’s really why I started my website, bradtraverse.com.
Twenty-five years ago, I started gathering jobs together and putting them together in emails, because there really weren’t any kind of resources available for folks to get jobs on Capitol Hill, federal government, lobbying, PR, that type of work. So, I started gathering it together for friends, and eventually, I did for free for ten years. Now, it’s five dollars a month to subscribe. We’ve got over four thousand jobs. We try to cut them off at about ninety days, and they’re really across the whole gamut. You’ve got, like I said, federal government, Capitol Hill, nonprofits, corporations, agencies, consultancies, and the titles go across the gamut.
ABERMAN: It sounds to me that you’re exactly what I expected from reading your bio, Brad. You care about this stuff so much. It’s really refreshing. I’m going ask you, with all with things that have happened over the years, what’s been the most satisfying personal moment you’ve had in your life in this field?
TRAVERSE: In the field of the job listing site, I get that personal satisfaction almost every day, because virtually every day someone comes up to me and says, I got my job on your website, and that what makes it all worthwhile.
ABERMAN: That’s so cool!
TRAVERSE: And working in the Senate, I worked for two different senators. I got some bills passed, and to have a bill signed into law that you worked directly on, and you know was going to help and influence people, nothing better. And that’s really what draws people to D.C., I really think they want to make a difference.
ABERMAN: You know, a couple weeks ago, I had Neil deGrasse Tyson on the show, and he made exactly same point. I asked him, what do you think about D.C., and he said, he loves coming to D.C., because this is a place where young people come to make a difference.
TRAVERSE: That’s right.
ABERMAN: And I thought, if he sees that from his perspective, and now I’m hearing it from you, that is really great to hear. Many of our listeners are thinking about growing their careers, maybe starting their careers. Why should a young person consider a career in government relations?
TRAVERSE: Well, like I said, you make a difference. I’m not going to kid you, it’s long hours. It’s not the greatest of pay, but every day, you’re working on something different. Every day, you are drafting letters, or you are writing amendments to bills, or you are writing talking points, supporting a position, or you are talking directly with constituents, if you work for a member of Congress. It’s exciting. There’s just a feel in the air that these are people, again, that want to make a difference.
ABERMAN: So, as we look around us, and you mention the media a few moments ago, all the cynicism, all the negativity. It sounds to me, at some level, that what you’re connected with is the purity of people who actually just want to participate in democracy in some way, and make the world around them better.
TRAVERSE: Exactly. They want to make that difference, they want to be a part of that process. And you know what, D.C. is a fun town, too. There’s a lot of neat stuff to do, a lot of great people from all walks of life, from every state in the nation, and virtually every country. Very diverse, every time you go to a happy hour somewhere, you’re going to meet somebody fascinating.
ABERMAN: Well, I want to tell you, Brad, I really enjoy when I have people on the show who enjoy what they do, because I think it’s really infectious. Did you play some sort of team sport, or how did you become the kind of person who really just could become so enthusiastic? I know that question is off the wall. I apologize, but I just had to ask you.
TRAVERSE: I don’t know. I just have always enjoyed it. can I say it? I’m a people person. There, I said it.
ABERMAN: But you are, and you’re in government relations. Brad Traverse, you and I today, on What’s Working in Washington, we just blew up the stereotype, and for that, I really thank you, most of all. Thanks for joining us on the show.