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.