Coffee, Coffee, and Coffee

Posted on Friday, Apr 03, 2020

During the two months or so that I have been in DC, I have easily drunk more coffee than I had in my entire life before that. Though it started to become important on a day-to-day basis just to keep myself from falling asleep, it soon became a networking necessity.
Coffee is key in DC. Any person that you meet and would like to sit down and get to know, coffee is your answer. I have already sat down with over twenty people at the Dunkin Donuts in Longworth since I have been here, and I have several more planned. It’s almost as if getting coffee is a codeword among DC professionals to network and essentially pitch your skills to a potential boss or colleague. Expanding your network in this city is such a crucial part of being successful, and coffee is a crucial first step.
Nearly every single professional connection that I have made outside of my office has been over a cup of coffee. On several occasions, I have even met people for coffee and we didn’t even drink any! We literally just met at the coffee shop to network and exchange information for twenty minutes or so and that’s all it takes.
Beyond just grabbing coffee with people, going to receptions and taking every opportunity you can to introduce yourself to somebody new is essential. Don’t be afraid to go to those receptions that you’re not invited to, in nearly every case they will still let you in (and have free food which is definitely a plus). Advertise who you are and where you work, people will notice the confidence and it looks really good to potential connections.
On top of making some essential professional connections, I have made several good personal friends through those professional connections and just through meeting people at random receptions! Particularly if you intern on Capitol Hill, you never know who you will run into and you never know who knows who. Take every opportunity to make the most of being in such an interesting environment with access to a tremendous group of influential individuals. Nowhere else in the world can you pass by the people who run our country in the hallway on a daily basis, and you shouldn’t waste a second of it.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Everybody who is in that space has been in your shoes. Nearly every person who works on Capitol Hill started off as an intern, and they understand what you’re going through. A good quote I like to live my life by is, “closed mouths don’t get fed”. Extend a hand and ask for help, you will be surprised with what can happen.

Tyler Hinkle
Office of Congressman Marc Veasey
Washington, D.C. | spring 2020