A: Members often want to handle staff decisions (hiring, firing, salary, etc.), when they should focus on a chief, then let the chief handle the icky — and constant — staffing matters. They should review, but not adjudicate, dinky staff stuff. They get pulled so many ways on policy and politics, it’s best to let the chief deal with staff issues.
There are so many rookie mistakes for new staffers; but primarily the mistakes are substituting their judgment for their boss’s (or for the chief or [legislative director]), and talking out of school. Remember the political axiom “those who talk don’t know, and those who know don’t talk.”
The motivation behind “Manifesto: Staffing Capitol Hill” was entirely to help new staffers avoid obvious mistakes.
Q. Final piece of advice for someone who wants to get a job on Capitol Hill?
A: Understand the essence of the job, the backbreaking hours, the delicacy of the work. Be willing to take an unpaid position as a fellow or intern in an office to get valuable experience as you look for a paying job. That experience can make all the difference in competing for jobs in other offices, or the office where you work for free.
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.