What Washington Staffers and Interns Secretly Think About Working for Politicians


After reading these Whispers from actual D.C. political staffers and interns, you might be forgiven for wanting to pass up a job in the nation's capital.

You have to have a driven personality to succeed in Washington, where grueling hours and intense pressure coincide with low salaries and lots of drinking. This kind of frenetic lifestyle would probably be too much for most of us.

A poll from the Congressional Management Foundation and the Society For Human Resource Management found that 46% of staffers wanted to change jobs within a year because of a "desire to earn more money." Pay rates are 20-30% lower than equivalent private sector jobs, with most Capitol Hill workers making around $30,000 annually. Just 48% of the staffers say they had adequate time for a personal life. That said, 80% of staffers expressed overall satisfaction with their work for Congress — with 94% saying that they stay on the job because "they believe what they’re doing is meaningful." Staffers report satisfaction ratings that are generally considered much higher than private-sector jobs.

But the result of such a hectic lifestyle is ultimately high turnover. Former staffer Carter Moore said that some offices he worked for approached a 50-60% annual turnover rate. Low respect for Congress (with approval ratings at record lows) has frustrated many workers who feel their work is unappreciated. Whisper, a service that allows users to post anonymous confessions and other gossip, put together this compilation of unfiltered thoughts from congressional staff (some are NSFW):

The Whispers were authenticated by the site's editors who describe the process:

"Whisper allows users to share personal experiences and thoughts they might not be comfortable sharing publicly or while tethered to a user profile," said Whisper editor-in-chief Neetzan Zimmerman. "The anonymous nature of Whisper creates an entirely safe space for discussion, advice, and support. The only incentive for posting whispers is to be able to participate in an authentic conversation around themes that matter."