This week I was able to snag the newest employee on C’Hill, Aline Sredni, for a quick sit down at a posh wine bar (aka our apartment) to give us an inside peek on what life is like working in the Senate…
Q: How do you feel that your undergraduate degree in Psychology prepared you for work in politics?
A: A lot of my work is interacting with people and being the face of the Senator to her constituents, and people usually call when they’re either really upset or really happy and so with the current political climate, my degree in Psychology has really helped me be able to deal with difficult people. Especially given the current political situation, people have been much more fearful and so Psychology has really helped me to understand and sympathize with them. Also, having a double-major in Global Studies has helped me learn how to multitask and see the world from multiple perspectives.
Q: How do you see your current position leading to future opportunities?
A: The way that jobs work on the Hill is kind of like a pipeline, and because my goal is to work in legislation, my position as Staff Assistant is pretty much the first step towards that career.
Q: Could you describe one of your typical workdays?
A: Well, there really isn’t a typical workday (laughs). It’s been a crazy past few weeks, especially with everything that’s been going on with the Trump administration. Every day is different, whether a new nominee is being voted on or figuring out new systems for mail. Every day I sit at my desk, answer phones, deal with correspondence, take care of legislative mail, manage interns, etc. Every day is different but at the same time it is so exciting and I love it.
Q: What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
A: Multi-tasking, organization, people skills, and you have to always be able to quickly adapt.
Q: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
A: We have like 100 things to deal with at once, and so it can be challenging knowing what to prioritize. As a Staff Assistant, not only do you have to focus on doing your main job, but you also have to attend to all of the staffs’ needs, anything from administrative tasks to helping with legislative work.
Q: What do find most enjoyable?
A: The thing I love the most about my job is working for someone that I admire and love, and for a state that I love and have lived in for most of my life. Everyday when I’m walking to work I feel like the luckiest person alive to be able to walk into the US Capitol, a place that I’ve read so much about in textbooks, and realize that it’s actually my office. I am so excited to be here and have the opportunity to make a difference. It’s surreal and I love my job so much.
Q: Are there any negatives to your job?
A: Not so much about my job, but it is a pretty frustrating time to be a Democrat. With Congress being all red and Democrats being the minority, it is hard to talk to people and hear their desperation but not be able to effectively help them and implement the changes that need to be made.
Q: How would you describe the corporate culture?
A: In my office, everyone is pretty young and even though we are co-workers we are also friends. However, everyone takes their job very seriously. Everyone helps each other out, and there is a huge (yugeee) teamwork mentality. The work environment is constantly changing, though, depending on whether or not Congress is in session.
Q: What educational preparation would you recommend for someone who is interested in this field?
A: Definitely intern on the Hill if you have the chance. It’s also good to have a background in some sort of administrative work. I would advise someone to really make sure that they have a passion for politics, because working in the field can be very mentally challenging unless you really love it.
Aline Sredni is currently working as a Staff Assistant in the office of Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and is a graduate of the University of Illinois. When she’s not out changing the world with her political prowess, she can be found hanging out at home with her cat (Stanley) and her awesome roomie (Abigail), where they are probably watching re-runs of The Office and ordering UberEats. Or Postmates. Or both.