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Finding New Passions on Capitol Hill

This week, we spoke to Marijose Ramirez, Legislative Correspondent for the Office of Representative Veronica Escobar.

Can you tell me about your career path that you’ve taken that’s led you to where you are now?

My whole life I had a plan on what life would look like after I graduated college. Things have greatly changed since then; I have realized that no path is linear, and it is okay to stray away from a plan that does not align with your current goals. After graduating, I decided to apply for a congressional internship, which changed my world. Since then, I have found new passions and have continued to learn so many things that I don’t know if I would’ve if I would have followed my original plan. I have loved the opportunities and people that I have met that continue to inspire me to continue working towards policy that I am passionate about. I am grateful to be able to work for a member I trust and admire and hope I can help make change for the people back in my district!

Which specific policy areas or legislative issues are you most passionate about, and how do you stay informed and engaged in those areas?

I’ve always known that I wanted to focus my career working towards indigenous sovereignty and rights. After my congressional internship, I realized how passionate I was about water policy. Growing up in the southwest, water has always been a topic we deal with every single year and after learning and understanding how that intersects with indigenous issues, I knew it was something I wanted to continue pursuing. I stay informed by going to committee hearings and briefings as well as constantly keeping up with local stakeholders on what is going on and what resources are needed to move forward.

Describe a challenging or rewarding project that significantly influenced your growth as a professional. How did you handle the challenge, and what did you learn from the experience?

Dealing with burnout is very real and learning how to avoid/deal with it is a crucial part of succeeding at a job. When I was in undergrad, I was doing extracurriculars, a full-time workload, internships, a part-time job, and somehow found time to socialize. Doing that for years brought me to multiple burnouts and yet I had not found a balance that worked for me.

My first week on the Hill, I had an amazing conversation with my now mentor and she highlighted the importance of leaving work at work. Working on the Hill, leaving work at work can sometimes be hard, but setting boundaries where you can have time to focus on yourself at least once a day and not have your Hill staffer hat on is something I have found to help me so much. Working in such a fast-paced environment, we all become awesome multi-taskers with great time-management skills, but learning how to incorporate those skills into my personal life has helped me be a better staffer with little to no burnout!

Stay true to yourself. Staying curious and true to your beliefs is so important. Capitol Hill needs fresh ideas for this constantly evolving world. I think it can be easy to fall into a mindset of “well that’s just the way it is”, I encourage you to always push towards change and trust your heart and mind.

What do you believe sets Capitol Hill apart as a unique work environment, and how do you navigate its challenges in your everyday work?

The ability to change the status quo. Everyone working in Congress is working towards a bigger cause that has the potential to impact so many people. Nowhere else will you find a willingness to work with people who may not look like you, think like you, or speak the way you do, all for a greater cause. Working together is necessary to drive that change. That said, it can be hard to navigate conversations when disagreements sometimes feel so big, I think it is important to remember that we are all working for greater good and use that as a catalyst for change.

Word association, what is the first word that comes to mind for each of these?

Policy – Change

Networking – Relationships

Writing Skills – Impactful

Working on the Hill – Meaningful

Leadership Connect – Helpful

To be featured or learn more, reach out to Gabi Thomas, and spread the word to any colleagues who would be interested.

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Gabrielle Thomas

Gabi joined Leadership Connect as a Research Analyst and is now the Legislature Outreach Liaison.