Vanessa Paige VandeHey (B.A., 2017), Senior Staff Assistant, Office of Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. is an exciting place (just ask all of our alums who live there and love it!), but there’s probably no place quite as exciting as the U.S. Capitol. For someone who loves American politics, this is as thrilling as it gets. For Political Science alum Vanessa VandeHey, the U.S. Capitol is also where she gets to go to work every day.
Vanessa has been working in the Office of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for about a year, first as an intern during the Fall 2016 semester. Her work as an intern led to a job offer, and forced Vanessa to figure out creative ways to finish her degree at Oshkosh while also accepting a job that put her in the middle of the action in exciting political times. She was able to successfully juggle life in D.C., frequent trips to Wisconsin, and a pile of coursework in order to complete the requirements for graduation this summer.
More than anything, Vanessa understands the power of internships. “Internships are very beneficial to a career on the Hill,” she writes. “As an intern you have the opportunity to build relationships with staff and members of Congress, as well as get a taste for the expectations of working on the Hill. From my experiences, you can never go wrong with a positive attitude. The environment on the Hill can become very intense at times, and a positive mindset and determination to work hard can go a long way.”
Maintaining solid work relationships is critical in a job like Vanessa’s. “My daily duties include assisting office Senior Staff, creating daily schedules for the Staff Assistants and Interns, and helping with the operations side of outside groups visiting the office (located inside the Capitol building). I enjoy all aspects of my job, which I think is a symptom of working with and for really great people,” she says.
Political Science was an obvious choice for Vanessa, and she uses the skills she earned here every day. “I chose Political Science as a major because of my passion for politics and interest in the minutiae of studying law. Many of my skills obtained through my Political Science degree have extended into my current job,” she writes. And she echoes something we hear from employers a lot: critical thinking and research are not just classroom projects, but essential job skills. “First and foremost, I would say that the skill of being able to think critically has been the most significant as many of my daily duties involve quick decision-making,” Vanessa writes. “The ability to know how to conduct research has also proven itself to be invaluable, which was a skill emphasized during my time in the Political Science department at UW-Oshkosh.”
We’re thrilled that Vanessa was able to pursue this opportunity in D.C., and we are eager to learn where it takes her next. Want to know more about Vanessa’s path, working on the Hill, or living in D.C.? We have a lot of wonderful connections there, including Vanessa. Let us know how we can help you! You know where to find us. #TitansAre
Note: The Political Science Department sends out offers for internships and work from politicians, political parties, and candidates for office as a service to our students. In this space, we will feature our alums and employers from all across the political spectrum. We do so regardless of their political affiliation. No endorsement of the individuals or party is intended.