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Career Story: Congressional Liaison And Transportation Policy Advisor

Congressional Liaison And Transportation Policy Advisor

Job Title: Federal Policy Advisor To A State Governor

Type of Company: I monitor federal policy with an eye to the ways it will affect the state I work for.

Education: BA, Political Science, Dickinson College •• currently pursuing Masters, Communication, Johns Hopkins University

Previous Experience: I interned while in college for three members of Congress and after graduation began working full-time as a Congressman's staff and legislative assistant.

Job Tasks: Basically, I was assigned by the Governor to lobby on behalf of our state. At his request, I take a particular interest in transportation issues and work with our Congressional delegation to promote our state interests when federal legislation's being drafted. I act as a liaison between federal agencies, Congressional delegates, the Governor's office and our state and local agencies, but in order to do so effectively I have to keep up with current issues in my policy fields, as well as with state and national news. I am also responsible for knowing and understanding what's happening in the state legislature.

Every day is different for me. There'll be days when nothing happens, and then abruptly, out of the blue, a crisis comes along and has to be responded to swiftly. My routine duties, on days when there isn't a crisis, run to answering questions or responding to issues from Congressional offices and, on occasions when I cannot answer their questions myself, putting staffers in touch with the appropriate experts at the state or local level. I keep track of federal grants and work with federal agencies on a range of issues that affect state funding. For all of this, a general understanding of the legislative process is necessary, along with good communications and people skills and a familiarity with specific policy issues.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is how interesting and varied it is, and how rewarding it can be. You can see your hard work in legislative results.

The worst part of my job is the crises. Issues that need immediate attention often blow in without warning and I always have to be on my toes. Indeed I'm pretty much always "on-call," and if something comes up, I have to handle it.

Job Tips:
1.) If you are interested in politics and in working on Capitol Hill, start out with an internship. Since I'm from the Washington area, interning (unpaid: be prepared for this) was relatively painless. But in general, if you work for the government, be forewarned: you are NOT doing it for the money. You won't make much.

2.) Take as many politics courses as you can in college and get as involved as you can: student government, clubs, anything to build up your resume and broaden your horizons.

3.) Stay up-to-date on current events and what's going on in Washington and in Congress.

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