Empowered and Ready to Go! – Kevin Wei

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci

With 8 weeks on Capitol Hill at an end, I’m thinking about lessons learned and ways I could have performed better as an intern in my office. Here’s a couple helpful tips for future #VictoryInterns, especially for those coming from a non-government background like me:

  1. Don’t be afraid to take initiative: if you see a problem, don’t just complain – propose a solution! Work processes everywhere have inefficiencies, so don’t be afraid to speak up and correct them. The worst that can happen is being told no, and at the very least you’ll develop a reputation as a thinker who tries their best to improve the functioning of the office.
  2. Always be doing something or find yourself something to do: work days on Capitol Hill can be slow, especially if the Congress is in recess. But that doesn’t mean you have a carte blanche to twiddle your thumbs behind your desk. You could always write an extra memo (even if it’s unasked for), help with constituent services, or attend a hearing. This brings us to 3…
  3. Watch the committee hearing schedule, and plan on arriving at the popular events early: working on Capitol Hill, you’ll be around plenty of luminaries in just about any field you could ask for. A number of world-class experts come to Congress to testify or hold events for staffers – and popular events are always crowded, so show up early! I learned this the hard way after arriving late to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s semi-annual House Financial Services Committee hearing…the room had only a few seats for the public (that weren’t reserved for press), and I had to move to the overflow room to watch a livestream even though I arrived on time.
  4. Learn to effectively express gratitude: if you’re having plenty of coffee chants and making those hilltern connections, you’ll want to have a way to say thank you to everyone who’s spending time with you. Handwritten notes are best, especially for Hill staffers whose office numbers are easily available. If you don’t have an address, at least send a thank you email.

So that’s a wrap: one amazing Victory Institute Internship complete, 11 new friends made! I’m looking forward to the Conference in December and meeting Victory Interns in future years.