Five Things You Didn’t Learn During Your Hill Internship (but should have!)

On April 4, 2024, the Network of enlightened Women hosted the Spring Capitol Hill Intern Summit in Washington, DC. During this program, 57 Capitol Hill interns and staffers had the opportunity to network with like-minded women and hear from successful female leaders in the network.

The summit kicked off with “Five Things You Didn’t Learn During Your Hill Internship (but should have!),” featuring Adeline Sandridge. Sandridge, NeW alumna from the University of Virginia, serves as Congresswoman Kat Cammack’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Operations. 

If you are considering interning on Capitol Hill, here are five tips for a successful experience.

#1: Ask Questions 
Your supervisors want to interact with you and help you be successful, but you must engage and ask questions. Asking questions will help the staff in your office better understand where your interests are. If they know your interests, they can send you to briefings on that topic or connect you with experts on that topic.  

#2: Be Persistent and Follow Up 
People will be more willing to prioritize you if you show initiative and strong engagement. This includes bringing a notebook to a meeting or event and writing things down, especially if someone offers to connect you with someone. In the follow-up, thank them for taking time to meet with you and offering the introduction.

People love receiving mail, even if it’s just a short and simple note. It is good to get in the habit of sending a handwritten thank you note after any meeting or phone call that you ask for.  

#3: Build Relationships with the Staffers in Your Office 
Take advantage of the fact that the people who are currently in higher positions were once in your shoes. They are approachable and want you to engage with them so they can help you succeed. Sandridge encouraged the audience to ask their supervisors about their most memorable experiences on the Hill as an example.  

#4: Keep in Touch 
The office that hired you as an intern is investing in you. They want to see you be successful, whether you continue to work on the Hill, at a think tank, or move to the private sector. Maintain that relationship even after your internship. You never know if you might find yourself looking for a position on the Hill again, or that connection could be helpful elsewhere.

#5: Have Fun and Make Memories 
Interning on the Hill is a once and a lifetime opportunity. The time will go quickly, so make the best of what you are doing and don’t be afraid to say yes to different opportunities.

Sandridge closed out her session by saying, “If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be: Go to that reception. Go meet new people. Relish this time. Learn. Grow. Make new friends. Take new opportunities.” 

This blog was written by Kirsten Golinski, NeW Development Manager.



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