Introducing Cloakroom: Connect, matchmaking for informational interviews

Long-gone are the days of smoke-filled backrooms in Congress. Despite their merits, congressional ethics rules have eroded the bonds of community on Capitol Hill. Pile on the demands of the endless campaign season, and Members of Congress barely spend three days a week legislating. It’s no wonder our policymakers are incapable of reaching a bargain on anything; some don’t even know each others’ names.

Nevertheless, one important social tradition is still alive and kicking in DC: the informational interview. An informational interview is a face-to-face meeting with someone whose career or work you want to learn more about. In a recent Cloakroom poll of congressional staffers, 75% said they currently participate in informational interviews.

Traditionally you would find informational interviews through your personal network. Today we’re launching a new tool that will make arranging informational interviews as easy as finding dates on Tinder. Cloakroom: Connect, our latest app update, leverages the Cloakroom network to bring professional matchmaking to the cloud. Instead of networking solo, you can now draw on the entire Cloakroom network to find informational interviews and meet new colleagues.

Cloakroom: Connect is a browsable and searchable facebook of public policy professionals interested in networking. Willing mentors and aspiring mentees can use it find each other by issue area or role. Legislative staffers can use it to connect with off-hill policy experts. Political reporters can use it to find new sources and double-check their facts.

In order to build trust in the network we are offering to verify any public policy professional who wants to connect to Cloakroom using their real identity. Our inaugural Cloakroom: Connect guinea pigs include notable verified users like former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Reddit cofounder and net neutrality maven Alexis Ohanian, the king of DC job hunting Brad Traverse, and Slate Political Gabfest host Emily Bazelon.

It may not be the smoke-filled room of yesteryear, but Cloakroom: Connect may strengthen the policymaking community as a whole one informational interview at a time. Download the latest version of Cloakroom from the App Store, and start networking together.