Now that we’ve recovered from our post-election celebrating/drowning of our sorrows, let’s get back to things that matter: backroom deals. Lady K is a real-life lobbyist on K Street, and here to answer your questions.
What’s the easiest way to get a job on K Street?
Besides running a masterful election campaign? If you’re less than ten or so years out of college, you have several routes to a K Street firm:
1) Start as an intern and work your way up. You’ll gain institutional knowledge along the way, and position yourself well for quick advancement up the company totem pole. Eventually, if you stay for more than five years, you may hit a ceiling, but in the meantime you’ll make more money than your friends on the Hill and see a completely different side of the political process. A drawback is that you won’t have diverse work experience, which can be a notch against you once you try to get a job elsewhere. Another thing to keep in mind is that many interns are not college students; rather graduate students or folks in their mid-twenties.
2) Work on the Hill for a few years and transfer over to K Street. Expect a bunch of folks to attempt this plan starting next week, after their bosses lose elections. If you don’t currently work on the Hill, now is not the time to look for a job on K Street, folks. Stay where you are.
3) Get incredibly smart on a very obscure policy topic and/or work in-house. This option is rarer, but if you’re lucky, can lead to a more lucrative job. Interested in small business tax loopholes? What about 501(c)(3) funding for cancer prevention organizations? If a firm gets a new client and needs to get smart quickly, they may occasionally hire outside help. On the other hand, you’ll be pigeonholed, and you’ll also have more to prove when you have to diversify your client portfolio.
What’s the best perk of your job?
Perks are what you make of them. To the cubicle-contained temp worker, a consulting job may sound glamorous. But to the consultant who spends hours commuting to client sites each week, living out of hotels and eating Chinese take-out, the life is exhaustively dull. Sometimes I want an office with Google-style perks, even if it means a salary cut; other times I can’t believe what my firm spends money on instead of my paycheck.
On K Street, we get all the perks other private sector employees get: retirement money, insurance, bonuses based on your performance. But you can’t beat our kitchen situation. I had a friend who worked for a federal agency who told me her coworkers would chip in every month if they wanted to order bottled water. Bottled. Water. We have a fridge entirely devoted to beer. And people ask why I don’t have a government job.
How will the outcome of this election affect K Street?
It won’t. The “status Bo” will remain, save a few cabinet and congressional committee chair reshuffles. On the bright side, this election’s insipid outcome gives me more time to devote to more practical pursuits: deciding which inaugural ball to crash.