I started my time on Capitol Hill during my last semester of college as an intern. After graduation, I was hired to sit at the front desk of our office and answer phones for my home state senator, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. My job wasn't glamorous, the bottom of the hill staffer totem pole, staff assistant, but I was THRILLED to be there. At the time, Senator Reid was leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus and Senate Majority Leader, and after years of watching the West Wing, longing to be in the political world, I was finally in the room where it happens, or close enough at least!
I worked hard, answering many calls from constituents who wanted to complain directly to the senator but got me instead. I hardly made any money but was in DC living my dream, working on Capitol Hill. Any chance I got to interact with the senator, which was very limited, I did. We hosted weekly “Welcome to Washington” breakfasts for Nevadans visiting DC and this was my best chance to be seen. The constituents would meet Senator Reid and then go on a Capitol tour which I would lead. I knew anytime I could be recognized as doing my job and doing it well, it would pay off.
After a couple years of taking calls from what seemed like everyone in the state of Nevada, I was promoted to be a direct assistant to Senator Reid in his leadership office in the United States Capitol. As a special assistant to the Senate Majority Leader, I was part of a small team who managed the senator’s time and schedule. It was incredibly busy with long, uncertain hours. We did everything from grabbing him lunch (banana and a yogurt) to staffing calls with the President of the United States. Sometimes I would look around and wonder how I ended up there, the Senate Leader’s office in the United States Capitol, working alongside the brightest group of people I have ever met, most of which were women. A building I used to give tours of now had a desk with my name on it.
I started my political career like so many, as an intern and it is such a great way to start! I found my internship through my university’s Washington, DC internship program. Many universities have DC programs which can help you land an internship, find housing and even get college credit for your work. That internship changed the course of my life. Because of my internship, I met my now-husband who was also a Hill intern. So many of my friends came into my life because of my time on the Hill and in DC. Many internships lead to full time jobs, like mine did. If you are considering an internship or job opportunity in DC, go for it.
My former boss, Senator Harry Reid, passed away at the end of 2021 after a long battle with cancer. His funeral featured speeches from both the current and a former President of the United States. There were multiple musical performances by Grammy nominated and award-winning artists. The guest list was long and impressive, and I was once again lucky enough to somehow be in the room.
Though hearing President Obama speak is always a thrill, as I looked around the room and saw so many of my former colleagues who I had worked so hard alongside, I was blown away by the caliber of women I got to work with. Senator Reid fought hard for women during his entire political career. He staffed his team with women in the most senior posts. Largely due to “Reid Machine'' Nevada became the first state to have a women-majority state legislature, we have a woman-majority supreme court, a women-majority congressional delegation, including two female US senators. I am proud to have worked for a senator who left a great legacy of advancing women in politics.
Though I no longer work on the Hill, I have two daughters now and last summer I was able to take my oldest to visit Washington, DC and show her the Capitol Building where I used to work. The whole visit she was in awe looking up at the magnificent building. Now whenever we see the Capitol Building on the news she will say proudly “That’s where my mom worked.”
As I raise my two daughters to be hard working women, I want them to know they can do anything they want. I want them to know if they want to work in DC, in politics that they can. I want them to know how important it is to be involved civically because they can make a difference.