Written by: Sophia Schlesinger-Guevara
Corporate Board Member of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI), John Hoel, spoke to the Fall 2020 Global Leaders offering advice on how to prosper in our careers and futures.
John began by introducing himself and telling us the story of how he got to where he is now. John Hoel is the Managing Director of Federal Government Affairs for Altria Client Services, LLC where he oversees federal, legislative, and regulatory activity concerning both the Altria Group as well as its operating companies.
Before John’s time at Altria Client Services, he served on Congressman Bart Gordon’s (D-TN) counsel and as Associate Staff on the House Rule Committee from 1990 to 1996.
Originally, John is from Kansas City, Missouri who left his home state to attend Pitzer College in Southern California where he studied political psychology. John described how it was not until his time in college where he experienced diversity. In college, he studied abroad in Italy, opening his eyes to the rest of the world.
John moved to Washington, D.C. for the summers between his junior and senior years where he fell in love with politics. This passion led John to spend a semester in D.C. to intern on Capitol Hill. After graduation, John went back to D.C. determined to work on the Hill where he eventually landed a job in Congressman Gordon’s office.
As many of the Global Leaders are interested in law school, John said that waiting to go to law school was a great decision. Attending law school in Missouri, John then moved back to D.C. explaining how his law degree launched his career.
Although a law degree is technically not necessary to complete his work, it is still very beneficial. He talked to us about the positive aspects of waiting to go to law school which made me excited to go to law school myself and work towards my future.
John’s service at Altria allows him to lobby in Congress and access legislation. He said that working in a controversial sector is a great learning experience.
Through his work, John explained the idea of harm reduction. If the government is never going to get rid of alcohol, marijuana, or tobacco products, one may as well reduce its harm.
Before the end of our call, John gave us one last piece of advice. He told us to be proactive and make opportunities for ourselves. To take initiative and let your supervisors know what your interests are.
He described how supervisors appreciate when you create your own opportunities as it shows an excitement for learning. John and his work inspired me to pursue a career within politics while also convincing me how working in the real world before law school could be beneficial. As a member of CHLI, John taught me the importance of being proactive within your career and internship.