Hill press secretary: great job OR greatest job? Hill Navigator personally understands the grandeur and appeal of the communications world. So how to get there? Some suggestions below.
Q. I am a recent graduate looking for my first full-time job. I have Hill internship experience but working there isn’t my ultimate goal (which is to do communications). Would working as a Staff Assistant or Legislative Correspondent provide me with a path to getting a communications job off the Hill? What is the leap like from SA/LC to a Hill comms position?
Guess what: You can do communications on Capitol Hill! Hill Navigator is a former press secretary and communications director and thinks those are both outstanding positions with plenty of growth potential (You could become an advice columnist ! Who’d have thought?).
But say you want to do communications OFF Capitol Hill — a worthy endeavor indeed. Here are some tips to go about doing that.
— Get some comms experience. What?! Doesn’t Hill Navigator realize you’re a new graduate, not someone who regularly appears on MSNBC? There are several ways to go about getting communications experience, even when you don’t have any to start. First, apply for an entry level position at any of the reputable PR/communications/consulting firms in town. Begin with informational interviews and network from there. Your Hill internship experience will be a good place to seek contacts. Even if you don’t want to work on the Hill, your former Hill colleagues might be able to help with introductions.
— Second, consider going back to the Hill. Hill Navigator is wary of suggesting anyone work on Capitol Hill if he or she doesn’t absolutely want to. But if you have an “in” with your existing office, it could be a great place to work while looking for your ultimate spot doing communications. People do make the leap from staff assistant to press assistant, or from legislative roles to communications one, but this tends to be in offices where they are working closely with the press secretary. Press secretaries have an eye for enthusiastic co-workers, especially ones likely to pitch in on time-consuming tasks, like compiling media clips. If you find yourself back in a Hill office, see how you can make yourself useful to the press team — especially if you’re keen on the daily task of collecting clips.
— Third, keep your goal in sight and realize there are many paths to get there. If you’re smart, hardworking and want to do communications, you’re in a town where that can happen. If you have an opportunity to work on the Hill, it’s a great path to just about anything else in Washington, D.C. The entry-level job search is a tough one, but you’re already in a good spot with your Hill internship, so view that as your jumping-off point for finding your next move.
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