The career door is ever-revolving, especially on Capitol Hill.
Staffers come and go, whether they switch from office to office or from the public sector to the private sector. When the job announcements come, the process seems easy: “So-and-so is leaving this office to become a legislative aide at this other office.”
But there’s that tricky interview process in between for employed job seekers whose bosses don’t know they are on the hunt. It’s a conundrum for roaming employees everywhere, but one that holds special significance in the insular Beltway community, where it can sometimes seem as if everyone knows one another.
So where can an applicant and prospective employer meet discreetly?
Roll Call conducted an informal reader survey this summer to see where people go for job interviews. Most suggest getting off the Hill altogether. One former Hill staffer advised: “Don’t do it at Capitol Lounge. It’s too obvious.” But if staying close is the only option, Roll Call picked five safe spaces for bragging about your résumé and describing your dream job.
Care for a Cup of Coffee?
The Starbucks at 237 Pennsylvania Ave. SE is full of Capitol Hill staffers and Members of Congress, but they usually come just to pop in, place an order and head right on out. Rarely frequented is the upstairs seating area, where the atmosphere is quiet and relaxed. It’s also far enough from the barista station that you won’t have to worry about running into your boss.
“Most people don’t even realize there’s an upstairs to that Starbucks,” one current Hill staffer said. “It’s a good place to know about.”
Another place for an interview over cappuccinos is Ebenezers Coffeehouse (201 F St. NE). The shop is appreciated for its range of coffee choices and eclectic music performances, and its location near Union Station makes it unlikely that a job seeker would run into colleagues from the House.
But be aware that it’s just blocks from the Senate office buildings.
Let’s Grab a Meal
For the sit-down interview over food, avoid the spots along Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast or at Union Station. Instead, hit up Jimmy T’s Place (501 East Capitol St. SE).
The interior of the breakfast-and-lunch destination is as nondescript as its website, which only features its name, its address and a map of its location. But the staff at Jimmy T’s is quirky, and the seats are usually full of people who live on the Hill, as opposed to those who work on it. The only thing you might have to worry about is getting grease on your interview clothes.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.