Hill Job 411
Posted at 1 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2013
Hill Navigator wouldn’t have a column without questions from people clamoring to get on Capitol Hill. But it’s an answer that never gets old, so we’ll give it another go.
Q. I moved to the District a year ago (about two years out of school) with the hopes of landing an internship or entry-level position in a Hill office. I ended up taking a job at a large organization to pay the bills. I was only able to develop a couple of minor contacts in a senator’s office from my home state, and they didn’t yield much. I don’t have any other contacts on the Hill. What can I do to meet staffers, or get my résumé in Hill offices (more effectively than mailing it or using the online job banks)? And should I mainly target my home state’s representatives and senators?
A. Smart first move: Home-state senators and representatives are the best place to begin your job search. Even if they don’t have a job opening, a staffer from their offices should be able to provide an informational interview for you. You should have contacts in each of your home-state offices — particularly ones from the party you’d prefer to work for.
And these minor contacts you refer to — why are they minor? Follow up with them. Ask them for additional people you can talk to about the Hill. Even if they meet you for a surly coffee and give you a name of one person who doesn’t email you back, still be gracious and send your friendly thank-you note.
But let’s assume you’ve visited your home-state offices, met for countless coffees and your handwritten thank-you notes have already been delivered — yet you’re still running dry on contacts. Try talking to former staffers. People who work off the Hill often still have connections and can help arrange more informational interviews. Former staffers sometimes have an even greater motivation to help you — once you land a position on the Hill, it’s one more contact in their coffer.
And don’t despair when contacts don’t initially “yield much.” Landing a job on Capitol Hill can be a long, cumbersome process — but keep at it. Just think, the government shut down and staffers nearly lost their paychecks and health insurance, yet people still are clamoring to work there …
And for more on the Capitol Hill job hunt, here are some Hill Navigator posts that might help:
Have a question? Let us know. Hill Navigator wants to hear from you.