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Hill Climbers: Staffer Urges Patience in Job Search

Eloy Martinez never thought he’d leave his home state of Texas. 

But after volunteering on the 2004 Congressional campaign of former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) – and with a little push from a cousin who had made the move to Washington, D.C. – the new staff director for the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee decided to leave the Lone Star State and head east. 

Martinez said his goal was to find a job on Capitol Hill, but with too few funds to fly back and forth from Texas to D.C. for the numerous interview rounds required for a Hill gig, he said he decided to take a paid internship at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and continue to look for employment in a Congressional office from there.

“When I moved here, I wanted to get a job on Capitol Hill,” Martinez said. “At the time they asked me if I could come back for second and third interviews, and I asked if they were going to pay for my plane ticket and that wasn’t an option, so I couldn’t afford to invest in coming back and forth. … So I took [the internship].”

Martinez’s internship led to a full-time job at the public relations firm Terracom in August 2005, about a year after making the move to D.C. That job, Martinez said, involved event management and dealing with Hispanic and other minority interest groups that all had a stake in the business of Capitol Hill.

“At Terracom, my boss was a lobbyist,” Martinez said. “He exposed me to the government relations world.”

Four years later, an opportunity on the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee arose, and Martinez finally got his chance to work on Capitol Hill.

“They were looking for someone that had event management experience, had experience with the groups that I had been working with very closely and had an interest in working on Capitol Hill. And I read the job description and it just seemed perfect,” Martinez said. “This was my entrance. This was my golden opportunity. My résumé and the job description made total sense.” 

Martinez began at the committee as the associate director in April 2009 and was tasked with bringing in groups to speak to the Senate Democratic Caucus whose values and goals match up with those of the party. This July, the staff director role within the committee opened up, and Martinez jumped at the chance.

“The opportunity to bring groups in and give them a voice and an opportunity to express their concerns in front of the Senators is not something I take lightly,” Martinez said. “These [Senators] are people with power, and not all of these groups have the voice that I think they need. And for me, I liked reaching out to those who don’t necessarily have the access and providing that.”

For others looking to get a job on the Hill, Martinez said to be patient and not to dismiss opportunities off Capitol Hill.

“Don’t give up,” Martinez said. “Things may seem all doom and gloom if this is your only goal, to work here immediately. It took me four years to get to Capitol Hill. … Sometimes you have to do things to make sure to get to that goal, and don’t get discouraged.”

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