- Citizens United Case Helped Elect More Republicans
- House Republicans Don't Expect Government Shutdown
- Christie Makes Mexico Trip as Foreign Policy Test
- Franken Maintains Lead in Minnesota
- Senator's Refusal to Resign Changed South Dakota Politics
Posts in "Graduate School"
June 25, 2014
For some of us, that answer is “yes.” It’s a reporter’s life’s for you.
And who can blame you? You can spend your day writing. You have readers. You can break news. You can write about issues you care about. It can be incredibly rewarding. So much so, that we all keep coming back every day to do it — Hill Navigator included.
Part of maintaining an effective advice column is knowing when someone else can provide the better answer; so when a question on cub reporting came in, Hill Navigator sought counsel from one of Roll Call’s own experts: Politics Editor Shira T. Center.
March 4, 2014
Each of us has a short list tucked away someplace: the handful of people who say nice things about us and are willing to serve as recommendations. By their very nature, recommendations are favorably biased–we’re more likely to provide the names of the people who view us as successes, rather than failures, so this is a less a scientific examination and more of a praise-a-thon. But what if you want to use your member of Congress’ office on your short list, even if your internship was back in the days of Speaker Dennis Hastert? Hill Navigator discusses.
Q. I used to intern on the Hill. What is proper etiquette on using my recommendation letter from the Member’s office once he or she is out of office?
A. Hmm, Hill Navigator is not sure if you mean a “recommendation” — like having a former co-worker attest to your stellar interpersonal skills — or an actual letter, which once upon a time people would produce as validations of their good character. Full story
February 25, 2014
Public service isn’t easy. Once upon a time it was lauded as a job with cushy benefits and easy hours, but talk to anyone who works on Capitol Hill or for a government agency, and you’ll find their experience indicates the opposite. In every branch of government there are smart, motivated, hard-working, high-achieving staffers who could be doubling their salary in the private sector. And yet they choose to stay.*
Programs including the Presidential Management Fellowship serve as a pathway for would-be staffers with graduate degrees to enter public service. The process is competitive (about 600 of 12,000 applicants win the opportunity), time-consuming (finalists can take up to a year to find placement) and expensive (travel expenses for the interviews are your own).
So why do people do it? The PMF finalists I spoke to were excited for they opportunity. They wanted to be in public service. There was an overarching shared goal of wanting to make a difference. Unfortunately, many PMF finalists from the class of 2013 won’t find jobs. The government shutdown, sequestration, hiring freezes and agency budget cuts have provided far fewer available positions than in recent years.
As the final deadline of April 8 looms, the PMF class of 2013 is asking for an extension so they may have more time to secure a placement. They aren’t asking for jobs they aren’t qualified for, nor are they asking for positions they haven’t earned. On the contrary, they’re asking for a chance to make a difference. Which is what much of public service is about.
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January 23, 2014
Thinking about graduate school? Sure, you could join the ranks of the JDs seeking employment, but what if you want something less traditional for government, like an MBA? Hill Navigator discusses below.
Q. I am a former campaign staffer who is going back to school for my MBA. Will this help me secure employment on the Hill or other institutions in DC?
A. Short answer: No. Pursuing an MBA will provide lots of things: a valuable education, an expanded network, a better chance at landing a business-related job. It won’t hurt your chances of getting a job on Capitol Hill — where there are a handful of MBAs — but it’s not the straightest route to Capitol Hill.
(For that path, the campaign experience you mentioned might help, as would an internship or fellowship on the Hill).
But if you’re pursuing your MBA, presumably it’s because of your interest in business, not government. Perhaps both are your passions; perhaps you want to put your MBA to great work on Capitol Hill. Start networking now. See if your graduate program offers opportunities to connect with government offices in D.C. If you worked on a winning campaign and have some friends in Congress, reach out to them and see what opportunities you can take on while in school, so that when you graduate you’ll have a better understanding of the job landscape.
Hill Navigator is a strong proponent of grad school: you can learn a great deal, you can expand your network and you can increase your professional qualifications. You cannot, however, go to grad school as a means to guarantee a Hill job. There is no such guarantee. Not now, not ever.
December 10, 2013
Legislative assistant. Legislative correspondent. Legislative director. Intern. Capitol Hill jargon is filled with important titles. But what if your title confuses your colleagues? And what separates an “intern” from the elusive “fellow”? Hill Navigator discusses below:
Q. After a few years in the private sector and completing an M.A. in foreign affairs, I started work in the Senate as an unpaid “Policy Fellow” with a prominent member. The experience is proving substantive, affording me the opportunity to work on policy research, committee work and speeches for the member.
However, staffers in other offices sometimes take issue at my designation as “fellow.” They claim it is disingenuous if not sponsored by an agency (State, DoD, etc.) or outside organization (Brookings, CFR, etc.) and I should actually just be called an intern. My LD and chief disagree and assure me it is kosher and will back me up.
Nonetheless, as I look for a salaried, staff level position with another member or committee staff, I don’t want to come across as misrepresenting myself. Especially since reputation is important.
What do you advise? Stick with the title as-is? Re-brand in some other way to be more accurate?
A. Titles are super important. Not important in an “I’m more valuable than you are” sort of way, but important because it tells your work story on your résumé. And often you need that to be compelling to land an interview.
Traditionally, “fellows” are paid by an outside organization or agency, as your colleagues mentioned. But keep in mind that interns can also receive compensation, either through an organization that sponsors them or through college credit. Not every intern works for free.
The lack of compensation is not relevant to the work you are doing. For purposes of your current work, use the “policy fellow” designation that you and your office agreed on. If a colleague asks you to explain further, say the office provided the title because they felt it was best suited to your level of experience.
Often policy fellows like yourself take meetings with constituents and interest groups. In situations like this, titles matter; a group may feel differently meeting with an intern, rather than someone they believe to be higher up in the office hierarchy.
(Hill Navigator is not minimizing the important and valuable work of interns in congressional offices — just acknowledging that even with the deluge of staff titles, “intern” tends to indicate bottom-of-the-staffing food chain.)
Are the staffers who take issue with your title curious about your arrangement or just playing a game of “I’m more important than you?” If it is the latter, keep your explanation brief. Don’t fall for the ego-baiting. But if it’s the former, take time to explain what you’re doing and why. These could be the people who help you get your next job. Hopefully one that is paid.