How to Work for Congress in Washington

The political papers of Washington offer job listings for job seekers.
The political papers of Washington offer job listings for job seekers. (Image: Images)

Washington, D.C., is the epicenter for legislation and policy in the United States; working for congress puts you in the middle of the machinery that runs the country. Unlike a traditional company or organization, you cannot "apply" to congress for work. To work in congress you have to network with legislators and their staff to find available positions and opportunities. Do not despair if you start at the bottom for your first job; there are many opportunities for advancement in congressional offices.

Network with elected officials, no matter where they work. Networking is necessary to garner recommendations for potential jobs in congress and to find lawmakers or other members of congress that are hiring. Start by attending speaking engagements of incumbent and new congressional representatives. Speak with council people and lawmakers in your home state to acquire leads that can lead to a job in congress. Keep an eye out on rising political candidates. Network with these candidates early on to land a job later.

Work for a political campaign at the state or national level. If you have a particular skill or educational background that is useful for campaigning, ask to help. Political campaigns need effective communicators, writers and strategic minds. You gain valuable contacts in politics whether your candidate wins or loses. If your candidate wins, you can contact the candidate later looking for positions within her office.

Ask a retiring congress person if she needs help in her staff. The position may not last very long and it may not pay, but you can more easily find congress positions in Washington with the contacts you gain from your job.

Check the websites for the Senate Placement Office and the House of Representatives' Office of Human Resources to find available staff positions in congress. Both sites ask that you submit a resume and fill out an online form detailing the areas of politics in which you are interested. Jobs range from entry-level to professional positions in congressional offices. The sites offer more positions during election years.

Read "The Hill," "Roll Call" and "Opportunities in Public Affairs" -- three Washington newspapers covering politics -- to find available positions in congress. Each paper has its own classified section with job listings.

Attend congressional job interviews wearing a full suit. Carry extra copies of your resume to hand to anyone that interviews you. Map your route to the interview and allow extra time for parking and walking around The Mall in Washington.

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