People to me about how to get a job on Capitol Hill:
people: how do I get a job on Capitol Hill?
me: quit your job and work for free for a campaign for a year and they will give you a job or get an internship for free through the summer the year you…
okay, so I’m feeling some kind of way about these internship discussions. The whole reason I am in DC right now is because of the internship I did 12 years ago. I interned for Jim Traficant (yes, that one) because he was good friends with my Poli Sci advisor and I was bored with podunk town in ohio where i went to school and thought DC would be a nice change of pace. I didn’t get paid. I accumulated a fair amount of debt. Did I have to do shitty work? You bet. Answering phones, stuffing envelopes, writing BS letters to constituents, giving tours of the Capitol to sweaty obnoxious tour groups, learning how to sign Jim’s name (there is a science to it), going to boring committee hearings and taking notes. But I also learned more in that 6 months than I had in my first 3 years of college. I also got to do some fucking amazing things: tour of the West Wing of the White House, I met Bill Clinton (the photo of the two of us still hangs on the wall in my house), and writing Jim’s 1 minute speeches. I will never forget the feeling of standing in our office and watching on tv as he read the very first speech I ever wrote for him. It was…amazing.
After 6 months, I was asked to become a full time staffer. I accepted. Continued writing his speeches until he was subsequently indicted, expelled from Congress and sent to jail. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it in a heart beat. It was an incredible privilege to do the work that I did, and if you want a job on the Hill then you gotta pay your dues. If you’re not willing to do that, then look for another calling.
I think the major takeaway is that the vast majority of people that I at least know could not afford to pay their dues. The opportunity cost to spend a year in D.C. not getting paid (and still having to pay to be there) is pretty enormous at that point in most young people’s lives. Some can that cost handle it marginally better than others, and those people tend to (anecdotally) be overwhelmingly white and upper-middle-class.