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Hill Climbers: Crisis Management

Calls from constituents concerned about the bailout were pouring into Representatives’ offices last week, but Blair Bjellos was prepared — sort of. After a summer of interning on the Hill and then becoming staff assistant to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in mid-August, Bjellos was skilled at manning the phones and dealing with the public. But this was unlike anything she had experienced before.

[IMGCAP(1)]“It was hard to do anything besides answering the phones all day,” she said. “It was crazy.”

Even with the occasional crisis, the Hill is exactly where Bjellos wants to be. She began her college career as a psychology major, but she eventually caved to her love of politics and switched to a government major during her junior year at the University of Virginia.

Bjellos’ interest in politics developed at home. Her parents are not involved in government professionally, but Bjellos said politics was frequently a part of the conversation, which is how she first became interested.

An internship during the summer of 2007 in the office of Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) solidified her decision to go into politics professionally.

“It kind of took the pressure off, knowing exactly what I wanted to do,” Bjellos said.

And since she grew up in Rockville, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C., this career path was a natural choice.

“I’ve lived here my entire life, and I couldn’t leave the city, and I think it’s a perfect place to be if you’re interested in politics,” she said.

Bjellos’ interests outside of Washington politics include wine-tasting and people-watching, and she is a black belt in karate. She enjoys spending time in Georgetown, which is her favorite neighborhood for shopping or eating out.

While vice president of marketing for her sorority, Alpha Phi, Bjellos organized fundraisers to benefit their philanthropic cause, cardiac care for women. That experience led to an interest in nonprofit event planning, which could be a career path she might explore sometime in the future, she said.

Right now, however, Bjellos is enjoying the city and working for her new boss.

Bachmann is “extremely friendly, high energy and passionate about her work,” Bjellos said.

“I wanted to work for her not only because she is a woman, but because she has strong beliefs on which she stands firm,” she said.

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