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  • 29 May 2013 1:42 PM | Anonymous member

    Last night, Deborah Charles met with members of WCSA as part of our Dinner & Dialogue series. Deborah is a homeland security and national security issues correspondent at Reuters. She has covered four presidential campaigns, five Olympics, and has worked at bureaus in Madrid, Bangkok, Montreal, Toronto, New York and Buenos Aires. After earning her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, Deborah got her start at Reuters while studying in Argentina.


    With her experiences working around the world, Deborah gave some great advice on making contacts in a new place and the importance of keeping in touch. She said if she were to go back in her career, she wishes she would have kept better track of some of the contacts she’s made. We also appreciated her advice on knowing when to ask questions and admitting when you don’t know something. She said that as a reporter, she’s had to cover issue areas that she is unfamiliar with, so being able to reach out and ask for guidance was an important lesson.  


    Thank you so much to Deborah for all of your advice and for joining us for dinner last night! If you haven’t been able to make it to our Dinner & Dialogue series yet, watch for upcoming dinners in the WCSA newsletter!

  • 16 Apr 2013 10:36 AM | Anonymous member

    A dozen WCSA members spent their Sunday morning volunteering at SOME – So Others Might Eat. Teams of WCSA members served hot lunches and bussed tables for over a hundred guests of SOME. They had a chance to learn from staff and long term volunteers about the work of the organization in the community. In addition to offering breakfast and lunch 365 days a year, SOME provides health care, counseling, job training, and affordable housing to the homeless and low income of DC. Thanks to all the WCSA members who volunteered on Sunday!


    Elizabeth, WCSA Outreach and Community Service Committee

  • 21 Feb 2013 1:09 PM | Anonymous member

    Thank you to everyone who made it to our salary negotiation panel this week! We’re especially grateful to our panelists for joining us and answering our questions.

    If you missed it, read below for some of the advice from our panelists.


    Question: When is the best time to negotiate my salary?

    Advice: It’s easiest to negotiate your salary right after the initial offer, when you are accepting the position. Once you have been with the office, it’s important to be strategic about when you bring up salary negotiations. An appropriate time is during your annual review. August recess is also a common time. If your office does not have a formal review process in place, don’t be afraid to ask for one. The Congressional Management Foundation provides paperwork to act as a guide.


    Question: How should I prepare for a salary negotiation?

    Advice: Start now by creating a running list of your accomplishments. This will help demonstrate the value you’ve added to your office. If you’re entry-level, make sure you have enough experience and accomplishments to support your request.

    It’s also helpful to have an advocate in your office who knows your goals. If a Chief of Staff or Staff Director is ultimately responsible for your salary negotiation, meet with your Office Manager or Legislative Director to check in on your progress beforehand. Meet regularly to discuss your accomplishments and the direction you hope to move in the office. Then when it’s time for your salary negotiation, your advocate can also speak on your behalf.


    Question: How should I begin to negotiate without knowing the outcome of the upcoming sequester?

    Advice: It’s always important to be strategic about when you ask for a salary raise. Don’t ask for a raise when you are unlikely to get one. In this case, it’s probably best to postpone a salary discussion until after the sequester. Office managers on the Hill have very little salary flexibility, so consider negotiating other benefits as well. Some ideas include a new title, more flexible recess hours, or half day Fridays. Also keep in mind parking, metro, and student loan benefits.  

    Question: If title and salary promotions are not available, how do you figure out how much you're worth?

    Advice: If you work on the Hill or in the Administration, you can refer to Legistorm, the White House Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff, and the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions book. If you are looking to transition to the private sector, good resources include:,, and If you are looking to transition to nonprofit, look to Professionals for Nonprofit, a nonprofit staffing agency that produces a salary survey every year. It’s available at

    It’s also a good idea to meet with a handful of select people that you trust to ask their advice. Look to people who have made similar transitions or who have first-hand knowledge of what salary ranges are typical in your position.


    Do you have a favorite piece of advice that we missed? Post it in the comments section!

  • 08 Jan 2013 10:25 AM | Anonymous member

    Wondering what to do with your recess Tuesday?  Wonder no more because today the first round of WCSA’s 2013 Mentoring Program will kick off!  Whether you are new to D.C. or have been on the Hill for years, this is a great chance to hear the wisdom of someone who’s been there and meet a great group of women. 

    Here’s how it works: with a few exceptions (like if you’re an intern) WCSA members sign up to both be a mentor and mentor someone else.  From January 8-29 you can fill out the application at, and on February 1 you’ll get an email letting you know who you’ll be mentoring and who will be mentoring you. 

    And everyone in the mentoring program is invited to join us on February 8 at a kickoff event and mingle in a relaxed setting.  If you have any questions as the program goes on don’t hesitate to contact me, Sara, at Looking forward to seeing everyone on 2/8!

    Sara, WCSA Vice President
  • 14 Dec 2012 2:21 PM | Anonymous member

    This week, WCSA celebrated our annual Holiday Party at the Dubliner hosted by our Events and Activities Committee co-chairs Kara and Joy (awesome job ladies!). Our holiday party is always filled with good food, good drinks, and of course great company.

    I joined WCSA at our Holiday Party last year.  A couple women from my office invited me to go with them and encouraged me to join. I’ve been involved with WCSA ever since. As our members well know, WCSA is only as strong as the women involved. So if you haven’t already, reach out to the women in your office or around the Hill and invite them to our next event! It’s never too late (or too early in your Hill career!) to join. We’ll begin another round of our mentoring program this spring, and we’ll be starting to plan for our annual summer leadership conference soon – so there are lots of great opportunities to get involved!

    As we are wrapping up our events for 2012, thank you to all of our current members for making WCSA such a powerful community and to our new members who joined this year. We are looking forward to the great things we’ll all accomplish in 2013!

    Lindsay, New Media Director

  • 20 Nov 2012 2:52 PM | Anonymous member

    Last night, WCSA hosted a Job Search “Boot Camp” to help our members land their dream jobs. Thanks to everyone who came out – especially our panelists and resume reviewers!


    In case you missed it, here’s some advice we learned from our panelists.


    Job Search Tips:

    • Have a good answer when the hiring manager asks why you want the job. You should have very specific reasons for applying to the position you are interviewing for.
    • When applying for jobs on the Hill, do detailed research on the Member, such as their committee assignments and positions taken in recent press releases. Then cite this information in both your cover letter and the interview to show your interest and why you’re a good fit for the position.
    • Don’t be afraid to negotiate your pay – but make sure to do your homework! Know the typical salary range for the position, and then negotiate accordingly. For example, if you learn that the typical salary range is $33,000 – 35,000 ask for $34,000 – 36,000.
    • When a job posting says “no calls”, this means you shouldn’t call the office and ask to speak to the hiring contact. However you can call to ask for the name of the hiring manager so you can address your cover letter properly.
    • When in doubt, address your cover letter to the Chief of Staff; his or her name is usually publicly available.
    • Set all social media accounts to private. Hiring managers will Google you and, ahem, read your “after hours” tweets. Partisan posts (even thoughtful ones) could hurt your search for bipartisan positions.

    Resume Tips:

    • Always, always proofread your resume – and then have a friend proofread it! Don’t let yourself be written off for preventable grammar and spelling errors.
    • Limit your resume to a page in length, and tailor it to the position you are applying for.
    • Keep a long-form resume for your personal reference. This is a good spot to keep track of specific projects and greater detail that you may not include on every resume. It will help you tailor your resume to each position you apply for – and will make sure you don’t forget anything from previous positions!
    • Consider your audience when using industry-specific words, titles and acronyms (for example: PPACA or IQ).
    • Don't treat your resume like a job description. Instead of telling hiring managers what your job WAS, tell them HOW you made a difference there.


    Do you have a favorite piece of job hunting or resume advice? Leave it in our comments section!

  • 16 Nov 2012 2:22 PM | Anonymous member

    Thanks to everyone who made it out to our financial planning discussion this week! And an extra thank you to Stephany Kirkpatrick from LearnVest for Skyping in with us!


    If you had to miss our discussion – no worries! We’ve taken some notes for you.



    Stephany shared six key money mantras from LearnVest:

    • 1.    Organization is half the battle. The first step is to manage and track your spending, and LearnVest has a tool called My Money Center to help you do it.
    • 2.    Know your three most important numbers: your income, your expenses, and your credit score.
    • 3.    Conquer your debt. Prioritize debt with the highest interest rates (like credit card debt).
    • 4.    Have an emergency savings fund. This should be enough to cover about 6-9 months expenses.
    • 5.    Start saving for the future now. We know it’s early, but you should! Check out these 11 Biggest Retirement Lies to prove it to yourself.
    • 6.    Protect yourself. This means insurance: health, life, renters’, home and car.

    There’s a ton more to learn, so you can also visit for more tips and tools.



    And in case you missed it, it’s Federal Benefits Open Season here on the Hill. That means you can switch your insurance and benefit plans. Payroll & Benefits took the time to answer questions from WCSA members:


    Q:  What is the process for making changes to benefit plans during Open Season?


    A: The Open Season period is November 12 to December 10, 2012. Any Open Season Elections made during this period will be effective January 1, 2013. In order to make an Open Season Election, you can utilize the below self-service tools and websites to enroll, cancel, or make a change.

    1.         Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB): Self-Service Tool

    2.         Combined Federal Campaign Charity Contributions (CFC):

    3.         Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA): Third Party Administrator - enroll, cancel or change here. FSAFEDS customer service for questions on enrolling or making changes is 877-372-3337

    4.         Supplement Dental and Vision (FEDVIP): Third Party Administrator - enroll, cancel, or change here. BENEFEDS customer service for questions on enrolling or making changes is 877-888-3337


    Q:  How would a staffer who has a private money market retirement account from a previous job roll those funds into their TSP?


    A: You would need to complete the TSP-60 form here.


    Q:  Is the Student Loan Repayment Program open to all offices equally? If an office has not set up Student Loan Repayment for their staff, how would they go about doing that?


    A: It is open to all offices if the employing office has chosen to participate. More information is available here.



    If you’re feeling overwhelmed or have additional questions, Payroll and Benefits has been very helpful so reach out to them for more information!


  • 12 Oct 2012 10:02 AM | Anonymous member

    WCSA members met Tuesday, October 9th, to brainstorm activities for the Outreach and Community Service Committee. The seven members shared ideas ranging from learning about school improvement projects to volunteering at animal shelters and women's veterans associations. Be sure to look out for alerts about upcoming events in the weekly newsletter.


    Anyone with ideas for volunteer activities or with an interest in participating should contact either of the co-directors, Liz Murphy or Elizabeth Darnall.


    Elizabeth, Outreach and Community Service Co-Director

  • 26 Sep 2012 3:55 PM | Anonymous member

    On Saturday, September 22, a group of WCSA ladies ventured out to the East Potomac Golf Course (located on Hains Point) for an introductory golf lesson. Our instructor, Corey, gave us a quick intro on proper grip of the clubs and then set us up on the driving range, trying different swings. We started out with quarter swings and then moved on to full swings, with Corey giving each of us tips for how to get the ball off the ground in a straight line. By the end of the clinic, even those among us who had never held a club felt like we were getting the hang of it!


    East Potomac has invited us out for more golf clinics whenever we have interest - so keep an eye out for the next WCSA golf outing!


    Anne, WCSA Treasurer

  • 24 Sep 2012 3:43 PM | Anonymous member

    On Friday, September 21st, eleven members of the Women's Congressional Staff Association gathered for dinner at The Hamilton restaurant with Catlin O'Neill, Minority Leader Pelosi's congressional office Chief of Staff.


    As the waitress took people's orders, Catlin began by having each person introduce herself and talk about her work on the Hill. After learning about the women, Catlin discussed her own career path.


    Catlin was living in New York when September 11th happened, and the events of that day helped spur her decision to change careers and get involved in politics. Starting out on Governor Bill Richardson's campaign and then coming to DC to be an assistant to the Democratic Leader, Catlin talked about her journey to becoming a Chief of Staff, noting that timing and luck were on her side.


    As dinner was served, smaller discussions broke off and Catlin was able to answer people's more specific questions, including how to communicate effectively with your Chief of Staff, how to look for jobs when your member is retiring, and how to talk about going to campaign with your supervisors. Catlin also discussed the importance of taking care of yourself in the often stressful work environment and making sure you utilize the resources available to staffers, including the Office of Employee Assistance.


    As dinner came to a close, Catlin told everyone she was more than happy to continue these discussions. At the end of the evening, everyone left with some good tips for advancing their careers on the Hill as well as new connections with other WCSA members!


    Liz, WCSA Outreach and Community Service Co-Director

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