Putting myself in context | #3

One of the chief takeaways I have glistened from my Hill internship is that career advancement depends on who you know. I have made networking a top priority of mine, which I will delve into later. One big impression that I have gleamed – right or wrong – is that you have to have a niche. In many ways, I feel both very similar to other “Hillterns” while also feeling a sense of detachment.

It seems like many people on the Hill have a deep sense of devotion to their work and a strong sense of patriotism, however defined. Public service is the rallying cry that all seem to carry, coming in many different flavors. In addition, many people on the Hill have nonlinear paths – e.g. they studied religion before working on Capitol Hill. I have met many people who share these characteristics, some of which I share.

In other ways, I feel like I stand out from the crowd, though not necessarily in a marketable way. I feel like my brand of politics (ideologically speaking) makes me feel like an outlier – my hunger for bipartisan action over increasing partisanship seems at odds with the political winds, which is regrettable. In addition, my hobbies – I’d much rather go out to a restaurant and watch a movie with a group of friends than go to a nightclub – are not shared by many, or if they are, people are reluctant to express them.

The most interesting and frustrating part of my Hill experience has been my struggle to capture the essence of why I am interested in public service, and my peculiarities are part of this. I also feel like I should stay quiet, lest I cross someone who is higher up on the totem pole.

Jake

I am a rising senior studying Political Science at the University of Michigan, where I study American Politics and foreign affairs while enjoying all that Ann Arbor has to offer. This summer, I am interning with Congressman Fred Upton in his Washington D.C. office.

2 thoughts on “Putting myself in context | #3

  • July 15, 2018 at 2:01 pm
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    Hi Jake,
    Is “Hillterns” a real term?!

    I really enjoyed reading about your challenge (and motivation) to articulate the “why” of your interest in public service. I really look forward to hearing what you discover this summer! It can be difficult to explain the why behind our work; and it’s also the strongest driver behind our work!

    It sounds like you’ve found things in common with folks dedicated to public service, and have been interested in learning how people come from a wide range of paths on their way to Capitol Hill. It can be challenging, and I’m sure isolating, to feel like you don’t have a niche that you fit neatly into. Are there advocacy groups you’d be interested in connecting with? Are there specific topics regarding bipartisan action that you’re most passionate about? You may also be in an environment that may be very “pick a side.” Do you feel like bipartisan action is more common in state or local governments? Being able to understand issues from multiple perspectives can be important, and even if your views differ from others, there’s much you can learn about communicating. Your comment around needing to stay quiet is a little discomforting – consider how you might prioritize wanting to be in an environment where you feel comfortable and safe sharing your thoughts. Let me know if you’d like to chat more about this – we can schedule time to talk virtually!

    You hinted at some networking developments as well as the struggle to find others who are more open to exploring the city beyond the nightlife. Have you heard of MeetUp before? It’s an awesome site for a huge range of interests (sports to book clubs to trying out new restaurants) – check it out if you’re interested: https://www.meetup.com/cities/us/dc/washington/ In Ann Arbor it’s on a pretty small scale, so I’m sure DC has a deeper pool of participants! Along the professional lines, I’ve recently heard of the app Shapr? I don’t know much about it, so can’t back it with evidence of success, but it’s basically a professional networking app – something else to consider; if you do, let me know how it goes!

    Looking forward to hearing more!
    Beth

    Reply
    • July 17, 2018 at 10:58 pm
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      “Hilltern” is a real term, if a denigrating one… I embrace it though.

      You bring up a good point. Even though I work with a lawmaker many perceive of as more moderate than his peers, I feel like I should still keep my opinions to myself. I think it’s just a power dynamic. Connecting with groups that have similar thoughts and aspirations is a good idea – I am going to one which is holding an event in a little over a week, matter of fact.

      Professional networking is my favorite part of my internship, bouncing off of the point you made above. I’ll discuss that more in a future blog post.

      Thanks!

      Reply

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