Thursday, April 7, 2016

EUC Washington DC Trip 2016: Part One

Picture by Maxime Larivé
By Andrew Schwenk

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester.  This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 24.  This article is Part One of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students.  In this article, Andrew Schwenk writes about the first day of the trip, March 21.

On the first day of our trip in Washington D.C., we visited the Law Library of Congress and a staffer for U.S. Representative Rodney Davis. The Library of Congress was located in a beautiful building that contained a stacks' section that made the stacks at the University of Illinois pale in comparison. The librarians that we met there are all responsible for being generally knowledgeable on a certain body of law, such as the law of France and the French-speaking world. Their job consists of addressing questions that Congress has about the law of their area when it is relevant for the U.S. legislative process. The librarians informed us that non-lawyers could also get jobs as analysts at the Law Library of Congress or could apply to another part of the library. As would become a theme during our trip, they also urged us to regularly check usajobs.gov for relevant openings for our skill-sets and interests.

We also learned good Washington networking tips at our meeting with an Illinois staffer on the Hill. He told us that a good way to get a job in Congress is to actively work with a political campaign. If your candidate is successful, it could mean an automatic job in Washington for you. But even if that is not the case, getting your face and skills known in political circles is essential to getting a job in the legislature and in Washington in general. Everyone we talked to on our trip seemed to emphasize the importance of doing an internship and being nice to everyone you meet if you wish to have a career in Washington. On the more substantive side of things, he also advised us to concentrate on becoming an expert on one policy area and to read the news everyday on issues that affect it. While getting a job in Washington is tough, we learned that there are definitely ways to achieve it, if one is strategic about how one goes about it.

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