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Nov 4, 2014

Spotlight: EUPS Alumni Kevin Herzik

Kevin Herzig

Kevin Herzik (EUPS class of 2010) sat down recently to discuss his D.C.-based professional endeavors. Kevin has worked on Capitol Hill for Senate majority leader Harry Reid for about three years and is currently the Associate Director of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. Challenging EUPS students to consider the Hill after graduation, he emphasized the opportunity to apply the critical analysis skills obtained during their time in Florence.

So, what’s the trick to landing a job in the cutthroat Washington job market?

“I think that anybody looking to work on the Hill must have three skills: networking, determination, and a hook,” Herzik shares. “I can't tell you how many people I know, have gotten their job thanks to extensive networking, including informational interviews, which are the most important. It is also critical to be willing to do whatever it takes to showcase your dedication to a politician. It is not uncommon for somebody with a Master's or law degree to start as an intern. If you work hard enough, you will be rewarded. Finally, you need to have a skill that sets you apart from the extremely competitive job seekers. I have found that obtaining your Master's in Italy is definitely something people talk about.”

A former intern at the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, Kevin was able to impress employers with his extensive knowledge of the EU and all of its complexities. He attributes this and much of his success to the skills developed in the EUPS program. An extensive knowledge of how European Union politics works is incredibly rare in the American context. With only a handful of Europe-focused master’s programs in the United States, this sort of expertise helps students to stand out in a competitive job market.

For Kevin, the Hill has been a positive experience, but he emphasizes that the lifestyle may not be for everyone. “There may be people who do not enjoy the fast-paced, high-stress environment, or [who] may be more interested in participating in government in other capacities, either at the local level or in the administration.” Partisan divisions can also create tension amongst coworkers, however Kevin does not let that stand in the way of making new friends. “I know people who will instantly stop talking to you if you are from the other party,” Kevin shared. “But, generally, I think it’s beneficial to get to know your colleagues from the other side of the aisle. This social interaction makes it easier for you to find areas where you agree.”

Washington, D.C. offers a wide range of jobs for those interested in politics. Thousands of non-governmental organizations and businesses are based in the nation’s capital. In recent years, the process of negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has increased the need for American expertise on European policies.

While D.C. provides Kevin, and countless others with engaging political debates and an interesting social environment, he admits that nothing beats Firenze.

“I miss the city of Florence—the food, the culture, the nightlife, the ability to travel through Europe. I have been back since I left the program, but not enough times.”

Written by Sara Kinas








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