Hilltop Grads Flock to Hill
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 02:04
For Lori Rowley (SFS ’83), who worked as a congressional intern during her university years, the move to working as a Capitol Hill staffer after graduation was a logical one.
“The Congressman and his staff already knew me and my work product as their intern. The transition was pretty easy,” she said.
Ex-Hoyas have long been a formidable presence on the Hill. Thirteen members of the House of Representatives and seven members of the U.S. Senate are Georgetown graduates.
But in addition to these public figures, graduates can be found working behind the scenes in almost every government office building. According to the university’s Office of Federal Relations, 17 Georgetown alumni serve as officials for the administration of President Barack Obama alone.
Rowley began interning on Capitol Hill soon after graduating and credits her Georgetown education with helping to launch her career.
“The academic experience prepared me so well [that] I passed the [Foreign Service Officer Test] the first time I took it,” Rowley said.
Sean Foertsch (SCS ’05), an assistant working in the Department of Veterans Affairs, recalled the fiercely competitive nature of applying for a job on Capitol Hill.
“I can remember being so excited about getting a call from a chief of staff to come in and interview, but then my excitement quickly faded as I learned that the interview pool was quite large. But I got the job,” he said.
He said the strong presence of Georgetown alumni creates a sense of solidarity and community on the Hill.
“Getting a degree from Georgetown … is an introduction into a community that becomes part of your life,” Foertsch said. “Our school is a special place, and it is not hard to see how it binds us to each other.”
Scott Fleming, Georgetown’s associate vice president for federal relations, said that having so many alumni in the federal government can be beneficial to Georgetown students in a variety of ways, such as when students have trouble with work visas.
“We interact a lot with Capitol Hill,” Fleming said. “We do not receive preferential treatment, but sometimes doors can be opened and direction given.”
Foertsch, for one, has mentored Georgetown students seeking employment in the government and values the new connections he has formed with Hoya alumni on the Hill.
“I have both hired Hoyas and worked with them,” he said. “It is always a nice thing to see a Georgetown degree listed on a resume.”
Jonathan Ossoff (SFS ’09), a senior assistant to Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), maintains regular contact with the federal relations team and has returned to campus to appear on career panels. He considers a Georgetown education good preparation for a job on the Hill.
“Many of the challenges that we’re dealing with I studied from a theoretical perspective in school,” he said. “That training has helped me understand the implications of policy we debate up here.”
Ossoff described his job, which includes finding staff for Johnson and writing legislation for the Department of Defense, as demanding yet rewarding.
“It sometimes requires you to make difficult policy decisions that impact people’s lives with imperfect information and little time,” he said. “It can be frustrating [but] … it’s often thrilling.”