Downside to Working for Congress?

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FSK

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby FSK » Thu May 04, 2017 5:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
FSK wrote:I've done a lot of research on this. Starting from the bottom is awful, but it can be done. I know of one Chief of Staff who started from the bottom from a mediocre law school.

The better way is to grind out 5 years in a relevant substantive area, while volunteering on campaigns and doing ACS/FedSoc and the like, and then jump in at the LA/Counsel level.


Interested in this. I assume "relevant substantive area" would have to be something in litigation (i.e. white-collar crime, etc.)? Does it matter whether you're practicing in NY or DC before you try to make the jump?

Currently a first-year NY corp associate and I hate it. Want to move over to lit ---> fed govt and the path you outlined above seems ideal.


Some corp areas would be useful for the financial services committees. Its not too hard to figure out when you're trying to come to the hill as a policy guy. Know your shit, have connections, and be willing to work a lot for low pay.

Want to work on judiciary? Be an expert in patents or antitrust or civil rights or w/e. Want to work for Health? Know something about the health industry. Super points if you have connections on and off the hill from the outset.
Last edited by FSK on Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

globetrotter659

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby globetrotter659 » Thu May 04, 2017 7:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Currently working on the hill. For the poster asking about how to get a job. It's always about who you know. Moving up on the Hill is not hard, its the initial getting your foot in the door that is challenging. Think about, you have hundred of thousands of newly minted undergraduates a year who want to "change the world" so to speak who would love to chance to work on the Hill. You're competing with ALL of them.

Ways to get in by order of importance IMO
1. Know someone inside who can vouch for you
2. Work on campaigns
3. Intern for free (Congress basically runs on this. Without free interns, Congress would slow down to a snails pace)

I've seen people with graduate degrees and JD's start out as an intern or more commonly, entry level positions. You don't automatically get to have senior positions even if you have the educational credentials. Hill experience is the most important part--you start from the bottom and climb up. But again, getting to senior positions can be as short as 3-5 years. Turnover rate is extremely high on the hill. Barely anyone has institutional knowledge which is why lobbyists run our country. Blame it on the pay.

And if your office has the budget, you can get up to 10k a year towards your student debt. Not sure if there's a cap, but I assume there is. DC is expensive, but you can survive on 36k a year if you change your lifestyle.


This has pretty much been the only accurate/good advice so far. Getting a Hill job is not easy assuming you don't have many connections. Most of my JD Hill friends started out as interns or fellows (Jud Conmittee fellowships are great). I've also known a lot of very qualified people who completely struck out.

Also recess =/= vacation. If you are in an active office, you'll be working 9-5 during recess (maybe 10-4). Some days you might be able to work less. An office I worked in used recesses to catch up on work that slipped by when the Member was in DC.

JustHawkin

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby JustHawkin » Thu May 04, 2017 10:00 pm

globetrotter659 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Currently working on the hill. For the poster asking about how to get a job. It's always about who you know. Moving up on the Hill is not hard, its the initial getting your foot in the door that is challenging. Think about, you have hundred of thousands of newly minted undergraduates a year who want to "change the world" so to speak who would love to chance to work on the Hill. You're competing with ALL of them.

Ways to get in by order of importance IMO
1. Know someone inside who can vouch for you
2. Work on campaigns
3. Intern for free (Congress basically runs on this. Without free interns, Congress would slow down to a snails pace)

I've seen people with graduate degrees and JD's start out as an intern or more commonly, entry level positions. You don't automatically get to have senior positions even if you have the educational credentials. Hill experience is the most important part--you start from the bottom and climb up. But again, getting to senior positions can be as short as 3-5 years. Turnover rate is extremely high on the hill. Barely anyone has institutional knowledge which is why lobbyists run our country. Blame it on the pay.

And if your office has the budget, you can get up to 10k a year towards your student debt. Not sure if there's a cap, but I assume there is. DC is expensive, but you can survive on 36k a year if you change your lifestyle.


This has pretty much been the only accurate/good advice so far. Getting a Hill job is not easy assuming you don't have many connections. Most of my JD Hill friends started out as interns or fellows (Jud Conmittee fellowships are great). I've also known a lot of very qualified people who completely struck out.

Also recess =/= vacation. If you are in an active office, you'll be working 9-5 during recess (maybe 10-4). Some days you might be able to work less. An office I worked in used recesses to catch up on work that slipped by when the Member was in DC.


So much this.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 09, 2017 12:30 pm

globetrotter659 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Currently working on the hill. For the poster asking about how to get a job. It's always about who you know. Moving up on the Hill is not hard, its the initial getting your foot in the door that is challenging. Think about, you have hundred of thousands of newly minted undergraduates a year who want to "change the world" so to speak who would love to chance to work on the Hill. You're competing with ALL of them.

Ways to get in by order of importance IMO
1. Know someone inside who can vouch for you
2. Work on campaigns
3. Intern for free (Congress basically runs on this. Without free interns, Congress would slow down to a snails pace)

I've seen people with graduate degrees and JD's start out as an intern or more commonly, entry level positions. You don't automatically get to have senior positions even if you have the educational credentials. Hill experience is the most important part--you start from the bottom and climb up. But again, getting to senior positions can be as short as 3-5 years. Turnover rate is extremely high on the hill. Barely anyone has institutional knowledge which is why lobbyists run our country. Blame it on the pay.

And if your office has the budget, you can get up to 10k a year towards your student debt. Not sure if there's a cap, but I assume there is. DC is expensive, but you can survive on 36k a year if you change your lifestyle.


This has pretty much been the only accurate/good advice so far. Getting a Hill job is not easy assuming you don't have many connections. Most of my JD Hill friends started out as interns or fellows (Jud Conmittee fellowships are great). I've also known a lot of very qualified people who completely struck out.

Also recess =/= vacation. If you are in an active office, you'll be working 9-5 during recess (maybe 10-4). Some days you might be able to work less. An office I worked in used recesses to catch up on work that slipped by when the Member was in DC.


Are you saying that the above advice re: work for 4-5 years, gain substantive knowledge, come in at counsel level for a committee or member, is not accurate? Or just really, really difficult to pull off?

Jchance

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Jchance » Tue May 09, 2017 12:34 pm

FSK wrote:The better way is to grind out 5 years in a relevant substantive area, while volunteering on campaigns and doing ACS/FedSoc and the like, and then jump in at the LA/Counsel level.


Can you expand on what the bolded entails? I thought ACS/FedSoc activities are only during law school...

FSK

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby FSK » Tue May 09, 2017 1:09 pm

Jchance wrote:
FSK wrote:The better way is to grind out 5 years in a relevant substantive area, while volunteering on campaigns and doing ACS/FedSoc and the like, and then jump in at the LA/Counsel level.


Can you expand on what the bolded entails? I thought ACS/FedSoc activities are only during law school...


Nah they're career long network things. You need to convincingly signal your party afiliation, and if you can show you've put in some time to the party, all the better.

ACS and FedSoc are great because they have obvious party affiliation, but don't breach Hatch Act/Judicial Ethics issues
Last edited by FSK on Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jchance

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Jchance » Tue May 09, 2017 1:41 pm

FSK wrote:
Nah they're career long network things. You need to convincingly signal your party afiliation, and if you can show you've put in some time to the party, all the better.

ACS and FedSoc are great because they have obvious party affiliation, but don't breach Hatch Act/Judicial Ethics issues


Would like to hear more about what's bolded, like attend their year-round events or do the Olin-Searle Fellowship?

FSK

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby FSK » Tue May 09, 2017 2:28 pm

Jchance wrote:
FSK wrote:
Nah they're career long network things. You need to convincingly signal your party afiliation, and if you can show you've put in some time to the party, all the better.

ACS and FedSoc are great because they have obvious party affiliation, but don't breach Hatch Act/Judicial Ethics issues


Would like to hear more about what's bolded, like attend their year-round events or do the Olin-Searle Fellowship?


I mean like knock on doors for campaigns, if your job doesn't prohibit it
Last edited by FSK on Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mickfromgm

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Mickfromgm » Tue May 09, 2017 11:26 pm

Man, I just shiver whenever I see stuff like the ACA, tax overhaul IRC statute, so on, are voted on by the House or Senate. You just know there are gazillion legislative aides who stayed up all night for weeks to draft 2,000 pages of statutes, cross checking defined terms and cross-references. . . . and then most of the friggin' Congressmen never read a word of it.

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Re: Downside to Working for Congress?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 10, 2017 7:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
globetrotter659 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Currently working on the hill. For the poster asking about how to get a job. It's always about who you know. Moving up on the Hill is not hard, its the initial getting your foot in the door that is challenging. Think about, you have hundred of thousands of newly minted undergraduates a year who want to "change the world" so to speak who would love to chance to work on the Hill. You're competing with ALL of them.

Ways to get in by order of importance IMO
1. Know someone inside who can vouch for you
2. Work on campaigns
3. Intern for free (Congress basically runs on this. Without free interns, Congress would slow down to a snails pace)

I've seen people with graduate degrees and JD's start out as an intern or more commonly, entry level positions. You don't automatically get to have senior positions even if you have the educational credentials. Hill experience is the most important part--you start from the bottom and climb up. But again, getting to senior positions can be as short as 3-5 years. Turnover rate is extremely high on the hill. Barely anyone has institutional knowledge which is why lobbyists run our country. Blame it on the pay.

And if your office has the budget, you can get up to 10k a year towards your student debt. Not sure if there's a cap, but I assume there is. DC is expensive, but you can survive on 36k a year if you change your lifestyle.


This has pretty much been the only accurate/good advice so far. Getting a Hill job is not easy assuming you don't have many connections. Most of my JD Hill friends started out as interns or fellows (Jud Conmittee fellowships are great). I've also known a lot of very qualified people who completely struck out.

Also recess =/= vacation. If you are in an active office, you'll be working 9-5 during recess (maybe 10-4). Some days you might be able to work less. An office I worked in used recesses to catch up on work that slipped by when the Member was in DC.


Are you saying that the above advice re: work for 4-5 years, gain substantive knowledge, come in at counsel level for a committee or member, is not accurate? Or just really, really difficult to pull off?


It is not impossible, but it is still really hard to pull off. There is a (misguided) belief on the Hill that you can only do the job there if you have Hill experience. An open LA or LC job will get over a hundred applicants, and the number goes up the more sexy the committee or member in question is. Prior Hill experience is one filter they use to cut the stack. For most people out there, this means that to get on the Hill, you need to do an internship or fellowship, likely for free just to get your foot in the door. And then begin the process of working your way up (starting off at a ritzy $30k per year). If you lack Hill experience and want to go straight into an LA or Counsel position, you need someone to flag your resume or tip you off that an opening is coming so you can get in early. Simply having a law degree (even if it's from a good school) is not going to be enough to wow them by itself.



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