Unfamiliar Ground: What I’ve Learned During my First Few Weeks Interning on Capitol Hill

Hi everyone! I am currently finished with the first part of my internship and have been focused on adjusting to a professional environment and working full time. This summer, I’m interning with a representative in their Washington D.C. office! I had never worked directly in the political field with an elected official, so going into this internship I had very little idea what the expectations, job duties, and tasks given to me would look like. 

Throughout my internship, I’ve realized that one of the key skills someone can possess to succeed in this position is initiative. There are so many opportunities and events happening on Capitol Hill, and in order to get a full experience during your internship you have to take advantage of as many of these opportunities as possible. Taking the initiative to find meetings, hearings, and events to go to during the week and asking your supervisor to attend is crucial!

Another important skill to have in this industry is excellent communication skills. Most of my job is centered around researching and writing about policy. As a legislative intern, I get to do a wide variety of policy work from writing memos to researching and summarizing bills and their implications. When I’m not working on policy work, my job focuses on more constituent centered tasks such as giving tours of the Capitol and taking phone calls. Needless to say, the vast majority of my internship revolves around communication skills and research. 

Despite general skills such as communication and initiative being crucial to flourishing in the public sector, I’ve also found there are tons of other more specific skills required. One of those skills is a good grasp on policy, legislation, and the structure of our political system. In order to be a full-time staffer for an office or committee, you need to have an excellent grasp of the United States’ political system and the structure of the House of Representatives. As an intern, I find that I learn something new about the way Congress runs everyday. From learning floor procedure rules to the process of introducing new legislation, it feels like there’s a never ending stream of information necessary to succeed in this field. 

Another skill specific to this industry is a passion for public service and advancing policy issues. In the few weeks I’ve been interning on the Hill, it’s become very clear that no one works there unless they’re passionate about something. At times, the job can be stressful, difficult, and feel like an uphill battle. It is crucial that those who work in this industry genuinely love what they’re doing and focus on celebrating the small victories that occur within the job. 

During my first few weeks interning on Capitol Hill, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to work in the political sector and the type of skills required of full time staffers. It’s taken a lot of time to adjust to all of the new and unfamiliar aspects of my internship, and I’m still learning something new everyday. Despite the stress and unfamiliarity of working on the Hill, I’ve loved every second and have truly seen personal and professional growth within myself during my first few weeks here!

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