By Raegan Lindsey
On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the University of Montevallo Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences held an informal presentation called “What can you do with a history degree?” University of Montevallo alumna, Ashley Sills, came to speak about her current career in Washington D.C., as a scheduler for U.S. Representative Gary Palmer.
Sills is from Alabaster, Alabama, and went to Thompson High School. When she started at Montevallo, she majored in history with a goal of becoming a history teacher. In January of her senior year, and she decided that she wanted to pursue a different career path than becoming a teacher.
Sills credits a trip to the United States Capitol for where her career is today.
Sills explained that, “Spring of my junior year, I had visited D.C. and contacted Gary’s office about getting a tour of the Capitol. So, one of the staffers was our tour guide, and at the end, she was like, ‘you should apply for one of our internships at the office. I think you would be great.’” The deadline for that year’s submission had already passed, but Sills knew that she wanted to apply for the internship. She waited and applied again the following year.
“I went and applied and got the internship, but that’s when COVID happened, everything was really uncertain, and the internship got canceled. However, the old scheduler went to work in Colorado, and I got her position,” Sills said.
As a scheduler, Sills filters meeting requests and oversees traveling and office finances.
She explained what an intern does throughout the program. Interns are given a six-week project working on policy issues and doing writes ups about legislations. When the Capitol is open, interns give tours and answer phone calls from constitutes.
The internship allows students to work in public service, whether they want to go into politics or not. For anyone who is heading out into the workforce, Sills said, “Following your gut and heart is what is best to do. If you want to take the internship, take the internship. No matter what field it is in, get that experience.”
Sills also answered questions about her life in Washington D.C. When asked about her favorite spot, Sills was quick to answer, “Oh, the Capitol doesn’t get old.”
Sills stressed how close she is to the people she works with and how that has helped her adjust during this stage of her life. “I love my office. We’re a family. That’s one of the things William, our chief of staff, said. He said, ‘we are a family, and I need you to be comfortable with that, and I need you to be inclusive of everyone in the office’,” Sills said.
Sills’ path to her career was not easy, and like everyone else, she was impacted by COVID-19, but she doesn’t regret the hard work she has put in. Sills has navigated the past year like many students have by relying on what she learned here at Montevallo. For Sills, the most important thing Montevallo taught her was how to communicate, especially with people who had different opinions than her.
“I think Montevallo helped prepare me to stop and listen to another person’s point of view,” Sills said.