Congratulations... Now What? Your Congressional Office

The following is the second in a series of three posts from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) that provide new members with tips on how to succeed in Washington. You can read the first part here.

Your Congressional Office

• Why is it we always have time to do something over but never take the time to get it right the first time? Take your time setting up your office. Do not make snap decisions. Remember that you’ll be overwhelmed with input from friends, supporters, well-wishers, and people who now wished that they had supported you.

• You’ll have to make immediate decisions about committee memberships, requests for support from various people competing for leadership positions, even personal decisions. Make a priority list of the ones that are most important for you. Don’t try to make all of these decisions all at once.

• Your important immediate decisions will be your Chief of Staff, your living situation, your schedule for the months ahead, and which congressional colleagues you're going to rely on, not just for advice, but actually to help you.

• Ask for advice and reach out now. You will be stunned at how many people will help if asked.

• Do not make snap decisions about opening numerous district offices. If you subsequently find out that, for whatever reason, it’s not working out, closing it will certainly create a firestorm.

• Likewise, do not make snap hiring decisions. Every hire should be with the expectation that this person’s experience, talents, and personality is the right fit for the task at hand, the dynamics of your office, and your needs. Having to let the wrong person go can be traumatic, disruptive, and of course expensive because you're investing time and money in people who aren't performing the way that you wanted. Taking time to get this right will pay rewards many times over.

• Consider hiring people on a temporary basis. On several occasions, I have been able to get extraordinarily talented and capable people to work with me for a limited period of time, including my transition into office. Some lawyers, business people, recently retired individuals, and former Capitol Hill staff will accept a paid assignment for a few weeks or a few months. They can be extraordinarily valuable in “jumpstarting

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