How to Gain More Responsibility in the Office as a Hill Intern

Posted on Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017

“Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock.” Now, when 2000s pop sensation Miley Cyrus sung these lyrics as her pop alter ego “Hannah Montana”, I don’t think she was referencing working in a professional office. However, her words do have hold some truth. When it comes to interning in an office on the Hill, your internship is what you make it, and I’m going to give some tips on how to make it rock.   
                                               
Now, I’m sure when I say the word “intern” there are some images that pop straight into your head. Probably somewhere along the lines with the picture that follows:
 
There’s a reason that we instantly think up scenarios of fetching coffee or running errands when we think of the role of interns, and that is because those types of tasks are usually delegated to the fresh, new, and young interns. However, this doesn’t have to be the extent of your role as an intern. With the right actions and the right mindset, you can begin to make yourself more valuable to your office. Here’s how.
 
Tip #1: Humble Yourself
This one might be hard for some, but humbling yourself and knowing your place in the office food chain is one of the most important steps in being able to move up that chain. If you show up at the office and immediately expect to be given comprehensive projects and access to important meetings, reality might hit you hard. When you first start out as an intern offices usually like to “test” you out first to make sure you can handle the little stuff before being trusted with important tasks. The first couple weeks might be frustrating and you feel like you’re wasting your time, but I guarantee you that the staff notice the work you’re doing and it will not be forgotten on them when they need somebody to do something more challenging for them. If you appear uninterested or frustrated with the menial tasks at the beginning of your internship, the staff might be worried you’ll have the same mindset when they need you to do something of more substance. The sooner that you accept your starting the role in the office, the sooner you’ll be able to gain more trust and responsibility.
 
Tip #2: Reach Out
I can’t stress this one enough. Reach out, reach out, reach out! One of the most important things I have learned while working on the Hill is that opportunity will not come find you; you have to hunt it down yourself. If you wait around all day for another staff member to walk up to you and ask you to help them on a super important project, you’re probably going to be waiting around for a while. Instead, ask around the office if anybody needs help with anything and you’ll be surprised how often you now find yourself with a new task. Interns are usually scared of seeming annoying and often don’t reach out to see if anybody needs help, but I promise you that most of the time staffers don’t want to seem like they’re bothering YOU by asking for your help. The easiest way to get more involved in the office is to go find the involvement yourself.
 
Tip #3 Have Fun!
Now I know this one might not make too much sense in the context of gaining responsibility, but having fun does have its place in offices on the Hill. Make sure to take the time to go to events with other staff members outside of the office, and don’t be afraid to even invite them yourself sometimes. The more you hang out with the staff members outside of the office, the more you’ll become “part of the team” and less of “just an intern”. Plus, by going to cool events, you’ll get a more overall pleasing experience while living in Washington D.C. It’s a win-win.
 
None of these tips are in order of one being more important than the other, but that you follow them on a day-to-day basis, the better experience you’ll find yourself having. I recommend asking yourself before you start your internship “what do I want to walk away from this experience having gained” and adjust these tips to help meet those goals. Do that, and you’ll walk away from your internship satisfied with the results.

Jason Fitzgerald
Senator Ted Cruz
Washington, D.C. | spring 2017