April 17, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Hill Navigator: Stranger in a Strange Land

The bad news is that title changes donít mean that much outside your own office. Senior LA, senior policy adviser, deputy legislative director ó what people tend to look for is what you do, whom you worked with and what you can bring to the table. So if youíre a top energy staffer for a member active on that issue and serving on the relevant committee, it shouldnít matter if your title is policy adviser extraordinaire or plain old legislative assistant. If a future employer is looking for an energy expert, your cover letter and rťsumť can position you as such.

And as for your own office, withholding a title change is unusual, but Iíve heard of situations where they are ďsavingĒ it up to reward an accomplishment or as an end-of-year promotion. See if itís an option down the line. Or at the very least, talk to the former senior LA and see what that person had to do to make it happen.

Q. Many Hill offices promote from within, but some do not. If Iím an intern or a staff assistant in an office that doesnít promote from within, how do I go about getting that coveted LA job in another office when Iím competing with other applicants that are already LAs?

A. I hate to tell you this ó but youíve got to get promoted. You wonít be able to make the leap from staff assistant to LA very easily ó there may be some exceptions out there, usually they involve a fellowship or masterís degree or some nontraditional role.

If your office wonít promote from within, talk to your direct supervisor and ask to take on more LA-like responsibilities and learn the skills that way. If theyíre reluctant to let you do anything out of your lane, you may need to find another office or work environment that is going to help you grow. Capitol Hill can be a fantastic place to work, but if you donít have an opportunity for growth and improvement, then youíre better off elsewhere.

Got a question, concern or complaint about navigating life on Capitol Hill? Send us your questions, concerns or just regular confusion about how it all works. Want to submit a question? Email us at hillnavigator@rollcall.com or submit online at roll.cl/12tvZqI. All submissions are treated anonymously.

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