From the Hilltop to Capitol Hill

“To be employed by a House office in a paid position in the continental United States, an individual must:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen
  2. Be lawfully admitted for permanent residence
  3. Be admitted as a refugee or granted asylum
  4. Qualify as a non-citizen U.S. national under federal law.” — house.gov

I don’t meet these requirements. I’m not supposed to be here. But I’ve decided to stop navigating systems of power that weren’t built for me and start building my own power. This DACA recipient is a Legislative Fellow for the United States House of Representatives at the Office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

Working on the hill has been one of the most transformational experiences of my life. It has challenged me to understand and validate different perspectives while maintaining and expressing my values authentically. I have grown to become a good listener and internalize feedback I receive from colleagues.

Through orientation week with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), facilitators and speakers stressed the importance of reading a room and observing the work dynamic of staffers in congressional offices. After completing my first week, I have gained a sharp grasp of the work style my colleagues and supervisors work in.

In my internship experience, I have strengthened my written communication skills and ability to work in fastpaced environments. On a day-to-day basis, I write press statements and talking points for the Congresswoman, manage her Facebook page, and draft letters responding to constituent inquiries. Throughout this experience, I learned to build relationships with Texas and national media to promote the engagement of Texas residents with the federal government by strategizing and coordinating media relations with the Communications Director and Legislative Assistant. By collaborating with community stakeholders to strategically communicate the city political landscape, the staff and fellows in my office uplift the narratives of marginalized groups and inform policymakers to promote upward mobility.

I came into this experience very cynical of the federal government but was surprised how passionate staffers are to become changemakers in their role. My office views legislation as a means to dismantle systematic inequities and advance equity in education, economic development, civil and criminal justice, health and wellness, and housing.

As I begin my search for positions I want to explore after graduation, I am more intentional with how I draft cover letters and resumes. In my current experience, I have identified three hard skills: qualitative research, data analysis, and report writing. I am excited to leverage my experiences in any position I enter after graduation. 

Now, I realize that I work best in areas of support where my colleagues are encouraging and uplifting. Considering my personal and professional experiences, I learned that leadership and upward mobility is best achieved by collaborating with groups from multiple backgrounds. By identifying our shared experiences with disparities and leveraging our privilege to include underrepresented groups, my community can empower itself and champion movements that dismantle the inequities institutions sustain. I found that my passion lies in analyzing symptoms, coordinating approaches with colleagues, and developing solutions that will strengthen the infrastructure of an institution.


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