October 30, 2014

Professional Development

The Insider’s Guide to Getting a Job on Capitol Hill: Never Give Up and Always Give Back

By: John Maniscalco


Trying to get a job can be frustrating. It can make you want to give up but the best thing a person can do is never give up, this includes trying to making it on The Hill.


It is possible to do all the right things and still not land a job right away. It literally took me years to get on the Hill. I almost gave up. The last Hill job I ever intended to apply for was the one I just so happened to get. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I often think about how I almost missed out on it. Washington is filled with a lot of smart people but those who truly succeed are those that never give up and fight for what they want. Just as with everything in politics, you should conduct your job search with passion and determination.

Give Back

Once you land a job and become established, complete strangers will ask you to sit down for coffee so that you can talk about your experiences and provide professional advice. Always, always take those meetings. First, it is just a smart career move. Washington is a small town and you’ll run into the same people over and over again. This person may even be your boss someday. But most importantly, everyone remembers how difficult it is to get their start and every time I asked for advice, all I was asked to do in return was to return the favor somewhere down the road. Never turn down a chance to help someone. You owe it to everyone that helped you along your way.


John Maniscalco is the Director of Congressional Affairs at the Cato Institute. He served as a legislative staff member in the House of Representatives for three years. This is the third post in the series “The Insider’s Guide to Getting a Job on Capitol Hill.” The first post is can be found here. The second post can be found here.