Ah, the joys of working in a personal office: those unexpected “drop-by” visitors, a daily interaction with an elected official, even the chance to learn the legislative ropes vis-a-vis writing stacks of constituent mail. But what happens when a staffer wants to tackle a particular legislative issue and make the leap to become a committee staffer? Hill Navigator discusses.
I’m in a personal office on the House side. It’s been a great opportunity to get my feet wet and learn the ropes on the Hill. But I worked on a particular policy area before coming to the Hill, and I want to get back to focusing on those issues. How can I make the jump to committee staff?
You’re savvy enough to know that if you want a policy-heavy role (one that usually comes with more pay, better hours, and less turnover) then working on a committee staff might be the place for you. But how to land one of those coveted jobs?
One way to make the transition is to get involved with the committee staff that currently work with your boss’s office. Let them see your work ethic and policy expertise, and they will be glad to add you to their list of go-to enthusiastic personal office staffers.
As that relationship grows, take time to get to know them and express your interest in working committee side. A committee familiar with hiring practices agreed that personal offices are often good feeders for committee staff. “Certainly if I was able to hire anyone on my issue areas, a quality personal office LA from one of our members who had a strong background in our issues would be one of the first places I looked,” he said.
But say the leap is larger, and you want to work with a committee that your current boss is not involved with in any way. Consider making an intermediate job switch to a member’s office who serves on the relevant committee.
This will also deepen your own involvement in the policy issue you’re interested in, while providing meaningful connections that help both with immediate job prospects and those further down the road. Even on Capitol Hill, where nearly everyone is an “expert” in some field or another, the circles around certain policy areas tend to condense, and strong connections will help you for years to come.
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