Everyone gets their start somewhere. For some members of Congress, their careers kicked off at the bottom of the totem pole, by serving as interns for other members of Congress. Below is a list of key current members whose experience with the legislative branch started with answering phones and other administrative duties.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
The only woman to serve as speaker of the House of Representatives was exposed to politics at an early age, with her father serving as a Democratic Congressman from Maryland, and later, as Mayor of Baltimore. Pelosi herself first dipped her toes in the political waters when she interned for Sen. Daniel Brewster (D-MD) while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in political science at Trinity College in Washington, DC.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Also serving as an intern in Sen. Brewster’s office alongside the future speaker was the future majority leader, Steny Hoyer. At the time, Hoyer was finishing up a BA in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. Just a few years later in 1966, Hoyer was elected to the Maryland State Senate.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Hoyer isn’t the only University of Maryland alumnus serving in Congress. While studying for his BA in government and politics, the California native interned with Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) in 2001 and 2002. Swalwell has stated that his experience interning on Capitol Hill during the September 11 terrorist attacks cemented his desire to pursue public service.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
While studying at the University of Miami School of Law, Rubio interned for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a fellow Cuban American who retired from Congress only a few years ago. Rubio also worked on the 1996 presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) while in law school.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
While attending George Washington University in the mid-1970s, Warner interned for Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT). Shortly after graduating, Warner took a job with then-Rep. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and went on to manage Dodd’s senatorial campaign while studying in law school.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Like Pelosi, Gillibrand was born into a political family. Her father was a staffer for Sen. Al D’Amato (D-NY), and her maternal grandmother founded the Albany Democratic Women’s Club. While studying at Dartmouth College, Gillibrand interned in D’Amato’s Albany office.