Setting yourself apart from the masses is no easy task. To help, Roll Call asked workers who have already made it to the Hill for the advice they would offer to those trying to follow in their footsteps.
The seven, who were profiled as Roll Call Hill Climbers this year, explained their career paths, from school to internships to first jobs. No two were alike, but many found their way through home-state connections, and all agreed that the successful job seeker is a relentless go-getter who is willing to climb up the Hill’s hierarchy of positions.
It would be nearly impossible to duplicate any of these seven career paths, but each one offers the next generation of Hill workers — or those on the inside who are looking for a promotion — a model for achieving their goals.
Legislative director for Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.)
Education: Earned a bachelor’s in public and corporate communications from Butler University in Indianapolis and a master's degree in government from Johns Hopkins University.
Internship: Interned during her junior year of college with Dingell, who represents her home state, then returned to school to finish her education
Career Started: First job on the Hill was with Dingell as a staff assistant. She has worked her way up the ranks in his office to her current position
Career Notes/Advice: Trzeciak kept in touch with Dingell’s office after her internship to ensure that she was not forgotten and would be thought of when positions opened. “A friendly hello once in a while, whether you see that your former boss passes a big bill or you saw him give a floor speech, I think just a little email to say hello helps to keep people’s minds focused on you,” she said. For interns, Trzeciak stressed the importance of keeping your head down, not complaining, and remembering that you have to start somewhere.
Staff director for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee
Education: Earned a bachelor’s in government from Sacramento State University and a master’s in security policy from George Washington University
Internship: Interned for political consulting firm Russo Marsh and Rodgers in Sacramento, Calif.; volunteered for Rep. Dan Lungren’s (R-Calif.) campaign
Career Started: First job on the Hill was as a legislative assistant for Lungren, who represents Weaver’s home state of California
Career Notes/Advice: Weaver said to treat everyone with the “utmost professionalism because it will follow you.” She called Washington, D.C., a “bit incestuous,” referring to the constant rotation of jobs. She recommended contacting a home-state Senator or Representative for unpaid internships. “As someone that now hires people, I don’t necessarily look for somebody that has the substantive background in a particular area,” Weaver said. “It’s more important to hire somebody that has the character and work ethic you want to be with for 10 to 12 hours a day.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.