I’ve been here for a while now and here’s what I’ve learned:
Say Yes to All Tasks- and Do Them Right Away
When a staffer says “Hey, would you mind running across the hill to get a vacuum?” and you’re busy in the middle of scrolling through your twitter feed, stop and immediately do whatever they want. Yeah, they give you all the shitty tasks that they don’t want to do themselves, but if you put in your time, they’ll start giving you bigger and better things to do.
Attend Hearings as Much as Possible
This is where the magic happens. There’s nothing like watching your favorite Congressmen go at it in person. Plus, you get a great insight on your favorite political issues. (Also a plus- sometimes you get to be on CSPAN!)
Seek Out Receptions After Work
There is one of these babies pretty much daily. It could be for anything- I attended ones for franchising, Politico, save the wildlife. WHO CARES WHAT IT’S FOR?! It’s free food, probably from a delicious place, and free booze. They expect interns to show up and freeload. After all, we are either getting paid little or nothing at all. Every free meal counts.
Bake Things for Your Office
Or, if you tend to burn everything you make, buy a big bag of candy and share. Why? Networking. Your coworkers are your network, and when you want a job on the Hill someday, they’re the ones that will hear about it first. If they think you’re great, they’ll let you know first. It’s all about getting that competitive edge.
It’s Not About What You Know, It’s Who You Know
This has never been more true than it is on Capitol Hill. I majored in health science for crying out loud. I got this internship because of who I knew on the Hill. And how did I meet him? NETWORKING. I meet tons of great people that have great opportunities by doing this. I go to receptions and make small talk with some guys in suits. Oh, you’re looking for a new staff assistant? Interesting. Oh you started your own multi-million dollar company right after college? Please give me advice (also, are you married?)
Capitol Hill is like one big frat house. Most people working here are under 30 and are just looking for a fun life. Take your work seriously from 9-5 and then go out and get weird and make some new friends. We’re in our twenties- that’s all the excuse we need.