Newspaper article Roll Call

From the Trail to the Hill: Does My Campaign Experience Mean Nothing?

Newspaper article Roll Call

From the Trail to the Hill: Does My Campaign Experience Mean Nothing?

Article excerpt

What's worse than working in a dysfunctional Capitol Hill office? Not having the opportunity to work in one at all. And for a number of wannabe staffers, the road to Capitol Hill is paved with obstacles. Today's question comes from a spirited campaign worker who wonders why his or her skills on the trail haven't earned a congressional ID badge.

Q. I need to vent a little bit. I have spent the last 10 years, a HUGE chunk of my adult life, on campaigns helping getting congressmen, state reps. and governors elected to their office. However, now I want to transition from campaigns.

To be fair, I have been a field director for a majority of my time, but I learned a lot about politics and legislative process, and if that isn't enough, I also have a bachelor's in political science; all to be just shot down or never ever called for an interview for a legislative aide position.

It's funny really, almost ironic. I help get people elected, and the benchmark for working as a legislative aide on the Hill is: Must Have Hill Experience -- This is not an entry level position.

Two things: 1) How am I supposed to get said experience if no one will take a chance on me? 2) Do my 10 years in campaigns and politics mean nothing? Sure, I could be new to the whole game of legislative affairs, being an aide or assistant; but one thing is for sure, I am not an idiot, either.

A. You have the proverbial chicken-and-egg problem: How can you get a Hill job without Hill experience, and how can you get Hill experience without a Hill job?

I sympathize with this. I've written about it before, but I think it's worth going over again.

First, all those people you helped get elected? Talk to them. Specifically, talk to the ones who are in Congress. Whether you knocked on doors, cut turf or raised the cash, you worked on their campaigns, and your formidable experience helped get them where they are. …

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