Before moving to Washington D.C. for six weeks, I had only visited once. Therefore, most of my expectations came from Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde.” While I might not be fighting for my dog’s mother to be released from a research lab (although, what a noble cause, am I right??), I am here to learn how policy comes to fruition. While there is a lot that Elle got right when it comes to life on The Hill, I’m here to clue you in on a few things she got wrong.
One of the biggest misconceptions about D.C. is that to be successful here you can only advance by being cutthroat, ruthless, and greedy. That thought could not be further from the truth. The movie portrays Elle working in a representative’s office for months on a bill, only to be undercut at the end, due to the congresswoman needing to please her campaign sponsors. After only one week of personally working on The Hill, it is easy to see how much the staff and representatives want to work together to try and pass good policies. This is not to be confused with everyone getting along perfectly, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the bi-partisanship I have seen after only five days in the office. Another interesting take on the matter is that jobs as a staffer in the House are not a typical nine-to-five position that someone gets to pay the bills. Frankly, these people could probably make more money somewhere else, but their passion about certain topics and belief that this is where they need to be make it such a special work dynamic. I think that the passion the people here have is something that truly embodies the American dream. I have learned there are so many people here that, like me, believe in something greater than themselves.
Another aspect Elle Woods seemingly forgets to mention is the cost of living in the D.C. area. I learned very quickly that grabbing a few things from the grocery store will add about $20 more than what I would spend in Texas. I suppose it is a good thing I’m used to living the broke college kid life! But seriously, I think one blonde to another Elle should have mentioned all the money I would have to shell out to eat. I mean, can’t a girl get an HEB on the East Coast??
The BIGGEST thing Elle left out is how she made herself look more glamorous by walking around The Hill all day without getting blisters the size of Alaska on her feet. On my first day, I even made sure to wear flats, but unfortunately, fell victim to the most stereotypical intern problem. Some would say that Elle Woods’ biggest accomplishment was passing Bruisers Bill, but if you ask me, it is the fact that she could make it even one day on The Hill in her sky-high pumps without getting blisters.
While some of the things on my list are negative, I do not want it to overshadow how much I absolutely love living and working in our nation’s capital. I can see why Elle Woods loved being here so much. After one week in the office, I am sure now more than ever that policy is where I want to take my career after college. This blonde with blistered feet and big dreams is excited to see where this experience will take her!
House Committee on Agriculture – minority office
Washington, D.C. | summer 2020