Alumni Staffers Give Their Best Advice: Making the Most of Capitol Hill
Working on Capitol Hill can be quite a tricky experience—stick with us, and you’ll get to hear enough first-person accounts to last a life-time, from former congressional staffers about their best and worst experiences and how they navigated them. However, the Hill doesn’t have to be so daunting if you know exactly how to make the most of it. Whether you’re new to the Hill, or an ambitious staffer looking to climb the Hill faster, here are some quick tips that are sure to help you thrive.
CONNECT WITH ALUMNI STAFF
It can prove highly-valuable to connect with people who previously worked in your current office and perhaps held the position you now hold.
Communicating with your predecessors will provide critical insights on how to do your job and advance quickly. Reach out for a coffee chat with a personalized message explaining your connection (they used to work for your boss!)—they’ll be more likely to say yes based on your connection.
A great place to start doing this is on the Dome platform where you can look up alumni staff since 2008!
TAKE A BREATH
Life on the Hill can get hectic so it's always a good idea to just step away from your desk and take a walk. Give yourself at least 10 mins to explore the halls of Congress... and while it may sound corny, breathing exercises go a long way in keeping a clear mind!
SCHEDULE SOME 'SCHEDULE-FREE' TIME
Give yourself the gift of meeting-free time. Take at least an hour or two of your day so you can plan your day ahead of time, respond to emails, finish projects, etc. Control your calendar—don't let your calendar control you!
FIND PEOPLE WITH SIMILAR INTERESTS
It's always a good idea to make connections with people in your industry, and one really enjoyable way to do this is by finding people who share your hobbies/interests. Whether via a faith-based connection or through your love of playing softball, connect with people at social events, and seek out clubs and teams through your professional and alumni circles to build your own dynamic Hill community!
Dome is building tech solutions to facilitate these connections. Visit www.domecompass.com to find out how!
LEVERAGE YOUR EXPOSURE
You won't find a place with more public policy experts and lawmakers than you do working on the Hill. Take advantage of the uniquely valuable network the Hill provides—frequently request coffee meetings to build relationships. And don't forget to reconnect with contacts you haven't caught up with in 2-3 months!
Plenty of people fail to get noticed on the Hill simply because their job titles don’t capture the full value of their talents. While little can be done about this (besides advocating for a better title), you can have your profile reflect this on professional networking platforms like Dome.
For instance, one set of skills that rarely makes its way into staff titles are digital media and tech skills.
did you know that only...
3 staffers have ‘social media’ in their job titles
117 staffers have ‘digital’ in their job titles
7 staffers have ‘new media’ in their job titles
Market yourself better by using terms that adequately reflect the skills you possess/nature of the work you do. By adding ‘Digital’ to your job type on Dome, you become more discoverable alongside your fellow digital colleagues.
GO TO EVENTS
Whether it's a breakfast event, lunchtime panel, or reception, going to events will help you develop valuable relationships and learn new things. Use resources like Dome to find free events on/around the Hill, and take advantage of the free food and drinks!
Check out the rewind for our event ‘Skills, Knowledge, and Relationships: Alumni Staffers Helping Current Staffers’ for more useful tips directly from Tamera Luzzatto (Senior Vice President of Pew Charitable Trusts; former Chief of Staff to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)) and Jeff Berkowitz (Founder & CEO of Delve LLC; former manager of messaging/research operations for the George W. Bush White House)