Heard on the Hill

Staffer Guide: Interning Do’s and Don’ts

Former staffers share some horror stories

An aide walks on the fourth floor of Russell Building on the first day of the 115th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A lot of staffers you meet on Capitol Hill have been interns. It’s part of how D.C. works and a natural steppingstone to the job you may want. Staffers shared some intern horror stories, so you’ll know what’s a “do” as an intern and what’s a definite “don’t.”

Do

  • Have a positive personality, optimistic outlook and be humble. Don’t think you’re too good for any task and remove all preconceived notions you might have.
  • Meet as many people as you can and keep in touch with them by writing thank you notes once your internship is over.
  • Find a balance between being friendly with staffers and being excessively chatty or so comfortable that it could be seen as unprofessional. Working on people skills can help in any job.

Don’t

  • Dress like it’s a nightclub — wearing excessive amounts of makeup, extremely short skirts, and giant heels.
  • Microwave fish in the office. (True story, you can’t make this stuff up.)
  • Get drunk at work happy hours. Interns really don’t have to be invited to these events, so be happy that staffers want to continue to get to know you and limit yourself to one drink (age permitting, of course).

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