Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an intern on Capitol Hill? Through my time as a Congressional intern, I have picked up a few tips that will help you survive on the Hill.
#7 Dress to Impress
Make sure to dress appropriately. It’s always a good idea to dress business professional at first and just feel out your office. In my office, we dressed business professional when we were in session and business casual on out of session days. We were also allowed to wear nice jeans when we were out of session, but make sure that is appropriate in your office. When in doubt, throw on a blazer to up your look.
#6 Be On-Time
ALWAYS be on time! It looks very unprofessional if you are late to work frequently. In my experience, I was usually the first one at the office and had to wait in the hallway until one of my coworkers got there. It looks much better for you to be early and waiting rather than late and people waiting for you.
#5 Communicate with Your Supervisor
Tying back to my last point, if you are going to be late, make sure you communicate this to your supervisor. Your supervisor is there to make sure you have a successful internship experience, so you need to communicate with them what you hope to gain from your internship and what you hope to accomplish during your internship. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand or need help.
#4 Confidentiality is KEY!
When interning in a Congressional office, you have to keep some information confidential. For example, if you have access to your Congressperson’s schedule, you shouldn’t share that with anyone! What is said in the office, should stay in the office most of the time. Its ok to share stories of your day with your roommates, but just keep certain information to yourself.
#3 Don’t Take Things Personally
This was one of the biggest things I had to learn. If a caller is rude to you, don’t take it personally. They probably aren’t really upset with you, but just with the situation in general. It is also important to know what your office’s protocol is for rude callers. In my office, I was allowed to tell the caller that I was going to put them on hold until they calmed down and most of the time they just hung up after that. If a caller ever makes you feel uncomfortable or starts making threats towards you or your Congressperson, make sure to notify your supervisor.
#2 Be Open to Learning New Things
Don’t close yourself off to opportunities just because you think it might not be interesting to you. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Don’t close yourself off to only one area of interest. Any time someone in your office asks you to help with something, say yes! You have nothing to lose by learning new skills.
#1 Put 110% Into Your Internship
The most important rule is to put your best effort into your internship experience. What you get out of the experience is dependent on what you put into it. Make sure to take every opportunity offered to you and seek out opportunities for yourself! If there is a hearing you want to go to or a meeting you want to attend, just ask! The worst they could say is no. This internship experience opens a world of opportunities to you so make the most of it! You don’t want to leave having any regrets that you didn’t get to do something.
Office of Congressman Louie Gohmert
spring 2022 | Washington, D.C.