Newspaper article Roll Call

Bigger and Better Things: Staffers Who Run for Office

Newspaper article Roll Call

Bigger and Better Things: Staffers Who Run for Office

Article excerpt

Think being a congressional staffer can lead to bigger and better things? What about public office? You're in good company: 75 of the current House and Senate members previously served as congressional staff, according to CQ Roll Call Member Information and Research. Hill Navigator discusses what aspects of the job may serve you well.

Q. How do you wisely use intern or Hill experience if you want to be in public office? I would be happy working on the Hill as a staffer or a similar role, but my real passion would be to actually be a government representative. (I intend on going to law school and practicing law for a few years if that helps as well). I realize there are so many unique stories that there isn't a single answer, but I would appreciate your insight.

A. A Hill staffer with greater ambitions?

Welcome to the best candidate boot camp there is: Being a congressional staffer.

Hill staffers do run for office. They're well prepared for it: They understand constituent service, the hours it takes to fundraise and the grueling schedule that comes with a campaign.

And while you're correct there is no single answer or pathway, here are a few good guidelines on how to maximize your Hill experience to boost your political aspirations down the road.

Network: All those people you meet? Keep their business cards. Groom your Outlook contact list and find small and meaningful ways to keep in touch with people. Hill Navigator is not a fan of mass emails, but there are people for whom staying in touch is an art form, such as short notes on birthdays, or a quick email when you see a familiar name pop up in Roll Call. When you do catch up -- be it for coffee or a "hello" in the hallway -- spend time inquiring how the other person is doing, rather than launching into a list of your own accomplishments. If you can successfully build a large network of people connected to Capitol Hill, you'll have a great place to start generating support and raising money when you decide to run for office.

This includes your stint in law school, which is a well-trodden pathway to public service: 209 of the current House and Senate members list "lawyer" as a previous occupation. …

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