Sanford Embark Careers for Good Event – Introduction


(upbeat music) – We are just delighted to
introduce Provost Sally Kornbluth who has taken time to be
with us here this afternoon to welcome you and welcome
our wonderful alumni panelists to Sanford EMBARK’s Careers for Good. Let’s give Provost
Kornbluth a round (mumbles). (audience applauds) – Well, thanks Molly, and good
afternoon to everybody here. Actually I’m very happy to be here to help kick off the EMBARK
Careers for Good event, so thanks to the students for coming, thanks to all the panelists,
and all the other attendees. I hear it all the time from students, so I know that thinking about careers immediately triggers anxiety. And there’s so many
options, so many unknowns, and part of this I think is
to kind of make you aware of your options and
calm some of your fears. First of all, remember
that you’re at Duke. You all will be employed. You’re receiving a topnotch education. You’re gonna be exposed to a wide variety of fields, techniques, perspectives from excellent
faculty, researchers, peers. And you’re also gonna be
learning more about yourself, your skills, your strengths. And these are all things that are wonderful
preparations for any job. Again though, I know it
can feel overwhelming, and the idea of trying
to focus on the one job that’s right for you can feel,
again, anxiety producing. Although, I will say that most
of the people graduating now will say that the job they
get right out of college is not the job necessarily
they’re gonna be in, you know three or five years from now. So, whatever commitment
you make, it’s not forever. I’ve actually been in a university setting my whole professional life, but I started out as a scientist, and you know, running experiments
on whatever cell death, is not the same as leading the
academic and research mission of the university which was
not my original intention when I got a Ph.D. in
molecular cancer biology. And I will also say that I
was a political science major in college, so even becoming a biologist was not one of my original intentions, so you never know what’s gonna happen. I also have two children, and I’ll say that when my
son was a senior at Yale and decided to become
a high school teacher, all of his friends who
were going into consulting couldn’t understand why
he would spend his time being a high school teacher. You know, and he just sort of was like, “Well, that’s what I’m
interested in doing.” And he’s now actually in grad school and wants to be a college professor as an outgrowth of his
experience in teaching, but there was definitely
this pushback from peers that didn’t understand why he
would make a choice like that. And I think a panel like this is great so that you can see there
are a wide range of choices, because historically,
some careers will get a very sort of great deal of play at Duke, and you may have peers and friends that are going in one direction; it doesn’t mean that you
have to go in that direction. You might, again, be lead to believe there’s a common career path
that goes like econ major to finance to consulting, or
comp-sci major to tech job, but it’s just not the case that those are the only or
primary paths or opportunities, and many of you know that. There’re many students
pursuing opportunities on political campaigns,
in service fellowships like Lead for America,
College Advising Corps, which as you just heard
will be here today, to work for advocacy groups or
global health organizations, or you know, to prepare for grad school or gain skills through an
advanced degree program. So, it’s really about
finding your own path and navigating the many many opportunities that are gonna be available to you. So as you hear about what’s
going on tonight, today, and also take advantage of all the resources available at Duke. Think about EMBARK, the
Career Center workshops, networking opportunities,
groups like POLIS, thinking about speakers that come in from outside the university that you have an opportunity
to interact with, and really get as many
insights as you can. Because, again, there’s no
rush to find the perfect job the minute you graduate. What you wanna do is explore
a lot of opportunities and see what might
ultimately be the best fit. Also, as you’ll see here
today, there are faculty that have networks of professionals in areas that you might be interested in. But also, Duke has a vast alumni
network that many of whom, as you see today, are very happy to have you tap into their expertise in terms of picking
what you wanna do next. In the particular area of
public sector and public policy, it’s not hard to see
everyday in the headlines the importance of having well-prepared, well-educated individuals
addressing current issues. The US and the global societies grappling with so many
changes and challenges, from climate change, to human rights, to education access,
global health, many others. And this requires people
working in collaboration from many different backgrounds and people that are broadly trained to be liberal arts type thinkers, to really think outside the
box, to learn to question, and to learn to think critically. So if I can make a pitch to any of you who are interested in jobs in these areas, it would be to make sure the
policy solutions you work on are connected to inform
by research being done at places like Duke. In other words, we need people who think about what the evidence is, what the data are, in
terms of decision making. And that’s the kind of thinking you’re learning in your Duke education. So we look forward to what
you’ll do going forward, what you’ll add to the world, and how you experience your
journey at Duke and beyond. So with that, I wanna
turn it back to Molly and the first panel, and
I hope you all get a lot out of today’s discussion. Thank you.
(audience applauds) – Thank you so much, Provost Kornbluth. Your comments really resonated with me, and our team and everyone
here is so appreciative that you could be here and share your thoughts
with us this afternoon. Before we begin our first panel session, I wanna check in with Kathryn Gann, who’s a Duke undergrad who decided to take a
year off of her undergrad to work on a presidential campaign. She joins us today via Zoom from Iowa where she’s been working hard in support of Kamala Harris for president. Hi Kathryn. – Hi, how are you? – [Molly] Good, it’s
good to see you. (laughs) – Yeah, good to see, well
I can’t really see you, but yeah, good to see you. (laughs) – [Molly] (laughing) Yeah! Well thank you so much for
making yourself available. I know this is a really busy time. We have about 10 minutes here to check in, and I have a few questions that we’re interested in
hearing your perspective. So can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing these past few months
on the campaign trail? – Yeah, so I started
in late May, early June as a fellow, and then
became an official organizer in September and have been
an organizer since then. I would say what’s changed is that the summer is about
establishing relationships and kind of building
the infrastructure here, and now it’s like, you know, we have 83 days until the Iowa caucus, and so it’s very much grinding. I would say now, you know,
knocking on a lot of doors, making a lot of calls,
having a lot of meetings in the community to
establish relationships. I think the Iowa caucus is unique, because one, it’s the first in the nation, and so any presidential candidate who hopes to become our
nominee against Donald Trump needs to do well here in
order to be that nominee. But two, unlike New Hampshire,
or even North Carolina, it is a caucus, and so that
means that you literally go to like a gymnasium or
a school on February 3rd and are in a corner of the
candidate you’re supporting. It’s very public, it’s
very community based, and that means that
leadership, in terms of, for us, recruiting volunteers
and precinct leaders in Iowa is really really important
and what will win the caucus. – [Molly] Wow, thank you. That’s so interesting. But can you tell us a little bit about how you made the decision to leave school and move to Iowa? – Yeah, so actually I
think I made the decision like literally a year ago. But for me, the big thing
that happened or triggered that decision, was the Kavanaugh hearings. I worked at the Women’s Center,
along with Molly actually, and you know, doing a lot of
work about empowering women, and trying to combat sexual assault, and I felt very frustrated that you know, you could do all this work on campus, and then nationally someone, yet again, was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite sexual assault allegations. Our president has
committed numerous accounts of sexual assault and rape, and so I just wanted to be involved. I think 2016, 2018, you know, 2018 results really showed that. (electronic buzz)
Like a lot of women and a lot of people of color running for office for the first time. And I think similarly just wanted to be involved in the process and changing who we have in leadership. – [Molly] Yeah, I– – In terms of, oh sorry, yeah, go ahead. – [Molly] No, no, no, go ahead. – Oh, well I was gonna say, in terms of whether that
was a difficult decision, I mean, yes, and like I
would not be here in Iowa if it were not for my mentors at Duke. I wanna shout out
specifically to B.J. Rudell, to Deondra Rose, to Dr. Edwards, to Bibi my mentor at the Women’s Center. Without them, I wouldn’t have known that a position like this was available and wouldn’t have had the confidence to take time off of school. So it’s not without Duke that, you know, I didn’t find my interest or even find out about
an opportunity like this. – [Molly] Yeah, that’s amazing. I remember you making
that decision last year working with you at the Women’s Center, so it’s awesome to see you. Well, so what advice would you give to someone interested in
getting a job on a campaign? – Yeah, yeah, I would say
people have actually reached out to me about that. I have a friend who’s at Duke now and planning to take off next semester to work for a campaign. So, when I was applying,
like this past semester, I only wanted to work for Kamala Harris. And it was very stressful, because it feels like you send your resume into a black box, and then
no one gets back to you. And then it’s May, and you’re like, “I’m planning on driving to New Hampshire, “and no one has contacted me.” What I will say, is for people who are planning on doing
something like summer 2020, I feel like positions
will be more available because our nominee
will have been decided. If not, the campaign will
have been run for a while. I would say in terms of wanting
to get a job at a campaign, what I did that actually worked was one, tap into your network. So B.J. Rudell, he worked on a campaign; he had friends from that campaign. They still work on campaigns, and so they know people who are involved. I also can serve as a resource,
if anyone is interested or has questions, definitely let me know, especially with the Kamala
Harris team obviously. I think asking anyone that
you know that’s been involved, Rachel Binder, she’s someone
who graduated from Duke; she’s also working for Kamala
Harris here in Iowa City, 30 minutes from me. So I think it’s like tapping
into Duke alumni resources, tapping into maybe scholarship resources, you know, whoever you know. But also, I would say,
like I said, the timing. Summer 2020, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of internship positions available, volunteer positions available, organizer positions available, because next summer is gonna
be the nominating convention, and we’ll have decided our nominees. So it won’t be focused on which Democrat; it would be on taking on Donald Trump. So that will make it a lot easier. And then something else I’ll also say, which B.J. told me a
lot when I was applying, and I realize now that
I’ve been on campaign, but campaigns value hard work. This work is literally the hardest thing I have ever done in my
entire life (laughs). But it is also the most rewarding,
and the most fulfilling, and so if you show up,
like let’s say you show up as a volunteer, whether
that’s for 2020 race, whether that’s for North Carolina, trying to flip Thom Tillis’s seat, or Kentucky trying to flip
Mitch McConnell’s seat, and you just work really hard. You knock a lot of doors, you
make a lot of conversations, I think campaigns value that. So that will be rewarded in the sense of even if you show up as a volunteer, I’m sure you could get an
internship position eventually. But yeah, I would say definitely
the timing of summer 2020 makes it easier to get a position. And if you have any specific questions, you can feel free to email me or to tap into resources
at Duke like POLIS. Or even Dr. Rose worked for a campaign, and she put me in touch
with some of her students who had and told me about
her campaign experience. – That’s awesome, thank
you so much, Kathryn. I really appreciate you taking the time. I have one final question
if I could ask you. I know some people were
concerned about making ends meet working on a campaign. Can you talk about how some people navigate the difficulties
of that potentially? – Yeah, so what I will say is
really nice about this cycle is that basically all the
presidential campaigns I know are, the Kamala Harris’s team
for sure, is paying well. I would say paying a good
salary, and also for us at least, we have been negotiating
with the Teamsters, which is a union to up our salary. Right now I think it stands
at around $3,000 a month. And it will be up to like $3,200. Healthcare is something
else, for me, I’m not 26, so I’m still on my parents insurance, but healthcare is something else that can be provided through the campaign. I would say that the
campaigns this cycle or round, I know our team as well
as some other teams have made a huge emphasis on making sure that their
staff are paid and compensated. Because, to be quite honest,
before I took this position, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be paid. But I think it’s a change in terms of the dynamic from 2016 to 2020. If we’re preaching about
union rights or worker rights, we have to treat our campaign
staff that way as well. We can’t say we wanna do it
for the rest of the country if we’re not even treating
our organizers that way. So, I would say it’s fairly manageable, especially in a state like Iowa; the cost of living is much much less than even in Durham for instance. I would also say, so I’m
not in supporter housing, but a lot of people are,
actually most of our team is. And these are basically very kind Iowans, or volunteers who say, “Yes, you can like live in my basement.” Or like, “My kids moved off to college, “so you can like stay in our room.” And that means you don’t have rent, right? So then the only costs
really become driving. If you’re on rural turf, that
is a little more of a concern. For me, the max I have to
drive is like 15 minutes because I’m in Cedar Rapids. Food, right? And honestly, yeah, I think that’s it. There’s not many else expenses, so I would say I understand
if it is a concern, but I will say, at least a lot of the Democratic presidential campaigns have made it a priority
to pay their workers well. You know, for us, negotiating
with a union to make sure that we’re represented and
we’re getting our fair share, and we can advocate for
a higher pay as well. So, I think that’s awesome. – Awesome, thank you so much, Kathryn. We really appreciate it.
(audience applauds) – Yeah, of course. – Well, now I’m excited to
turn to our first session, Landing a Job on a Campaign, the Hill, or the Governor’s Office. And I’ll hand things over to
our moderator, Professor Rose. Assistant Professor of Public
Policy, and Political Science here at Duke, and Director
of Research at the Center for Political Leadership,
Service, and Innovation. We are so grateful she
was able to join us today to facilitate this session
with our wonderful alums. Professor Rose, thank you. – Thank you so much, Molly. Hi everybody, nice to see you today. Thank you for being here. We’re really excited to kickoff
today’s series of panels with this discussion of
Landing a Job on a Campaign, on the Hill, or in the Governor’s Office. And I should note that after our panel, our panelists have agreed to
stick around for a few minutes so if you have any questions, please do feel free to get
in touch with them then. Also, we will open it up
for Q and A at some point. So please do think of your
questions and have them ready. So, I should say, we have an amazing panel of distinguished alumni
here with us today. And so I will offer brief introductions and invite them up to the stage. So, first we have Pat Thompson. Pat Thompson is a 2011 pub-pol graduate who also earned a Master of Arts in 2013. Pat serves as national
security advisor in the office of Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker. Thanks so much for being with us, Pat. – Thank you.
(audience applauds) – Next we have Darryl Childers, who’s a Masters of Public Policy
degree graduate from 2014. And Darryl serves as policy advisor in the office of North
Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. Thank you so much for
being with us, Darryl. (audience applauds)
– Thank you. – And finally we have Jasmin Palomares who is a 2017 pub-pol grad. And Jasmin serves as legislative aide in the office of New York
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. So Jasmin, thanks so much
for being with us today. (audience applauds) So, to jump right in, I
wonder if we could start by having each of our panelists offer, say a one minute or so overview, of how you got to where you are today. So we’d love to know about
any jobs that you’ve had, your work experience, maybe
internship experience. And if you could give
us just a step-by-step of how you arrived at
your current position. – Sure. I’ll start. Again, good afternoon. My name is Pat Thompson. I work currently for Senator
Roger Wicker of Mississippi. My route in one minute,
I kinda took a little bit of a circuitous route to D.C., graduated in 2011. I actually worked for the
men’s basketball team here. I was the grad assistant for a year. I was then the director of basketball operations for two years. And then I ended up making
a career transition. I majored in pub-pol, knew
I wanted to go to D.C. I actually worked for Booz
Allen Hamilton for about a year. I was on a intel contract with them, and then kinda got the
bug to go to the Hill. And I worked for a member of
the House of Representatives for three years, and
then I just interviewed this past year for Senator Roger Wicker. And I started with him this past year. So from basketball to
consulting, to then the House, to then the Senate,
and now I’m here today. So looking forward to
speaking with all you today. – [Deondra] Thanks. – Hi, good afternoon. Glad to be here with y’all, at least partly because
I have three boys at home who are out of school today. And they were literally
climbing the walls when I left, (audience laughs)
so this is a nice break. So I think I might be a little bit older than my fellow panelists. So (laughs) my path may
take a little bit longer to describe, but I’ll describe
it in sort of broad strokes, and we can talk after if you
all would like to know more. But I actually went to
undergrad at Davidson College in North Carolina, finished in 2004. I had a history major, and
the thing about history major is you can do anything
with it as people tell me. But you aren’t necessarily prepared to do anything at all with it (laughs). And so I was sort of stuck and I didn’t know if I
wanted to go to law school. And I was sort of tired of school. And so I decided to do AmeriCorps; I did a version called AmeriCorps NCCC. I was placed in Sacramento, traveled all around doing
different service projects in a team of 11 other people. And this was right
after Hurricane Katrina, so I ended up spending
a good amount of time in Louisiana and Mississippi
doing hurricane relief. So I was very far away
from home for that year. I decided to come back
home to North Carolina, did a second year of AmeriCorps placed at the Gaston County
Health Department for that year. Ended up staying there a second year and trained as a phlebotomist. Ended up doing HIV testing
in jails, prisons, churches, basically anyone who would have us, we would come and teach them about HIV and offer them a test afterwards. And then that sort of led
me on into Peace Corps; I’d been thinking about
Peace Corps for a while, but it was intimidating, you know, moving to a different
country two whole years. Two years seems not
that long now, (laughs) but at that point it seemed
like a really long time and might to you all. And so I sort of worked up
the nerve to do Peace Corps. I had gotten married
during that time before, and so my wife and I, we
did Peace Corps together in the Dominican Republic
where I was a health volunteer. Really great experience,
but ridiculously hard. So much need, and basically
what I had to offer was, “I can teach you all how to, you know, “put a condom on a banana (laughs), “and teach you about, you
know, healthy eating.” Which, you know, all
very important things, but people aren’t able to eat at all and so it was just really
hard and it was a lot. But I came back to North Carolina. My wife started a Ph.D.
program here at Duke, and I actually started to work at Duke in the Division of Community Health. I was a case manager working with people who had either children with Medicaid or adults who were uninsured, which was another job
that was really demanding; it was rewarding, but just demanding. And after a little while
I was just burnt out. I just couldn’t do it anymore. (laughs) And that was when I decided
to go back to school, came here to work on a
Masters in Public Policy, which was a really great decision, and it allowed me to move
into a different area as I continued my career after Sanford, in an area where I could have more impact. So after I finished Sanford, I spent another year in
the Dominican Republic and then came back to North Carolina. I worked at a community
foundation for a while before I got the call to apply
for the governor’s office. And I’ve been in the governor’s office for about 2 1/2 years now. – [Deondra] Thank you. – Hi, so I guess I’ll just let you know what got me interested in public policy. I’m from San Antonio, and
despite my Texan pride, anyone will tell you, I’m
very big on my Texan pride and San Antonian pride. I grew up seeing a lot
of injustices growing up. And so both of my parents
are Mexican immigrants, and San Antonio has a huge
immigration population. So immigration was a huge
part of my life growing up. In addition to poverty, I had
a lot of friends and families who had multiple jobs and
still couldn’t make ends meet. And that just seemed not right. And I knew I wanted to do something, I just wasn’t exactly sure quite what. So at the time, Julian Castro
was mayor of San Antonio, and his brother Joaquin Castro was thinking of running for congress. And I knew I needed to do my part, and I ended up campaigning for him. So I was there in my
junior year of high school every day after school and on weekends going door-to-door talking to constituents and hearing about the issues
that they cared about. And I think that’s what really sparked my interest in public policy. And I continued to try
to find what I can do, like my role in public policy
and what that really meant. So, going to Duke, I
majored in public policy, and I ended up interning
my junior year of college on the Hill, so I got a
little taste of what I can do and how I can help draft policy, and what kind of impact that can make. So I ended up doing a fellowship after I graduated called CHCI, the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus Institute Fellowship. And then I got hired like six months in, in the current job I have. And just really quick on what
I do, I do health education, immigration, for Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand, and I basically get to meet with some of the smartest people, some stakeholders and interest groups and try to find solutions
to today’s issues. So even if you don’t have
a particular interest in pursuing a career on the Hill, I would definitely recommend it. There’s no other place like it. And if you guys have any
questions afterwards, please feel free to ask me. – Thank you, okay, so I’m (mumbles) to go right back down to Pat for the next one. If you could go back in
time and give some career and job search advice to
your undergraduate self, what would you say? – Yeah, I’d say the
first thing I’d recommend is specialize if you know. So if you already know
that you’re interested in a certain issue area or working for a certain
member of congress, or the governor, or whoever it is, if you know exactly what you wanna do, start specializing already. And that doesn’t mean that
you can’t take classes in other things and try
to expand your horizons in that way as well, but
I’ll take myself for example, I wish I had done this as an undergrad. I’m a national security advisor; I advise the senator on defense, international affairs,
those kinds of things, and I’ve always been interested in that. I was an Army Reservist,
always interested in defense, and so I think as an undergrad, what I wish I would’ve
done, I took some classes, but I wish I would have taken more classes in international relations, defense. I’m also a Republican;
I’m a proud conservative, and so maybe linking up with professors that ideologically align with me and people that could
mentor me in that way. So if you already know
kind of where you’re at, whether it be political
spectrum or interest area, find people here at Duke
that are really accomplished that can help you in that. And that’s just me. You may be on the other
end of the spectrum, you may be interested in
health, tax, whatever it is, whatever your passion
is, find it, know it, and then be really good at it. And then I would also say
find internships and jobs along the way that can help you get to wherever it is you wanna be in those few years after you graduate. The other thing I’d add
is don’t do it alone. So specialize, and then don’t do it alone. So again, finding a professor, finding even a friend, a
connection, whatever it is. It’s one thing to be a Duke
grad and a Duke student, and that’s impressive in and of itself. And you guys are way
ahead of the game in that, but find a team that can help
you and go with them to do it, because doing it together is
a much better way to do it. – Thanks, next one. – Yeah, so I would say ditto to everything that Pat just said. And I would also add in network. And I know you probably
hear that already anyway, and it’s probably easier
for some people than others, but I can’t overstate how
important it is to network. I think about people in
my office where I work, and the folks that are there are there, I don’t think there’s anyone,
I’m not sure if I can say it, (laughs) but I don’t think
there’s anyone in there who got their job because
they submitted an application on a website and somebody
saw it and was like, “Wow, this person’s
fantastic, I wanna hire them.” It was because of the networks that they had created over the years. So, super important. I myself, am an introverted person, so networking is not easy. I’ve stood outside of receptions before deciding if I wanted
to go in or if I wanted to go back home.
(audience laughs) Go in, meet some people, it
will absolutely be worth it. And I will also say, you
sort of heard my path, and I’ve been all over the place. I would say take the opportunity
to do something unusual; you know, leave school and
join a political campaign, I don’t know if I can say that. But yeah, do something unique. Do something that will make
you stand out from the crowd. You all are young, take that opportunity to do something that later
on in life, when you’re 38 and you have three kids (laughs)
climbing the walls at home, you can’t do, but that
will absolutely payoff in the long run. – Right, absolutely. I definitely wanna emphasize networking. On the Hill, whenever interns are applying for legislative correspondence positions or legislative aides, they’re
always wanting to know if you know like a friend
of a friend of a friend who knows someone in
the office who can say, “Hey, I’m applying, like
please flag my application.” And that’s so important. So definitely try to just chat
with people and make friends. Even though you might not
consider that networking, that’s networking; that’s making a friend who you can later call up
or shoot an email saying, “Hey, like this is something
I’m interested in.” In addition, I would’ve
done more job fairs. I feel like I’m also,
like I’m half introvert, half extrovert, so it depends on the day. So I feel like I should’ve
been more out there and asked questions. I felt like a lot of people
already knew everything, and I was kind of shy and
embarrassed to ask some questions, and I would definitely,
there’s probably other people, and I know you probably
hear this a lot too, just ask it, you’ll be fine, and I wish I would’ve
done that more, but yeah. – So Jasmin, can I start with
you for the next question? – Sure, yeah. – So could you tell us about a time when you put your hat in
the ring for something, you tried for something,
and you didn’t get it, and how did you bounce back? – Yeah, so I knew I wanted to work or intern on the Hill when I was in college, so
when that time came around, I actually applied for the CHCI internship for my junior year, that
summer, and I didn’t get it. It was devastating ’cause I was like, “I cannot afford to live in D.C. “and just have this unpaid internship.” I mean now there’s that
initiative to pay your interns, and even though that’s still not enough; only one person I think
is paid in each office. But yeah, so I ended up not getting it, and I still applied for the
office that I wanted to work in, which was Joaquin Castro’s, which it was a complete full circle, ’cause I had to campaign for him when he originally ran for congress. And I ended up getting it, I just needed to figure
out how to fund it. And I ended up looking for scholarships, and I think Sanford has one actually. So I ended up getting
a couple scholarships, and I did the internship that summer, and it was one of the best
experiences of my life. So if I would’ve just been like, “Oh no, like I didn’t get it.” Then I wouldn’t have had that experience. – So yeah, right after Sanford, so my wife was working on her Ph.D., and it was time for her to work on her dissertation at that point. And so she decided that she wanted to do her dissertation research
in the Dominican Republic where we had done Peace Corps. It’s my second year at Sanford, everyone else was sort of going through the job applying cycle. I wasn’t really doing that; I knew was gonna be spending the year in the Dominican Republic,
and there are very few people who would be willing to
hire me for the 11 months that I was gonna be there. I actually had decided I
was just gonna hang out and maybe go to the beach (laughs) and just hang out for the year. That didn’t happen, I ended
up finding a really cool job at a charter school while I was there, but when it was time to come back, that was sort of when the
pressure was really on. And I was in a different country and trying to jump into
the job hiring cycle from over there, and it was really hard. And I applied to lots of things. I think those were the first
jobs that I applied for that I didn’t get, and
it was just really hard. I remember one job where
I got a phone interview, and it was the most awkward
phone interview ever. It was something about the
international connection, and I think they had maybe
10 people on the other line, and I couldn’t tell who was talking, and we were sort of
talking over each other. It was just really awkward. After all of that, I think
it could’ve been easy to get really down, so I
guess what I take from that is just to stay positive. To get sort of New Agey, Oprah-ish, don’t find your worth in
some of these processes. There are a lot of factors that go into whether or not
someone wants to hire you. I think it’s just a matter
of you staying the course, staying confident, believing
in what you have to offer and what you bring to the table,
and yeah, just not letting those external factors
affect your confidence. – [Deondra] Thank you. – Yeah, as I discussed earlier, I’ve had a few career changes, and so the one, I was
going from Booz Allen, I was living in the D.C. area. And I was applying for a job on the Hill, or at least I wanted to, and had made inroads with
one congressman from Alabama, and I had had a meeting with
him, his chief of staff, and his legislative director, so the top three people in the office. They didn’t have a
position open at the time, but just a really good
inroads to the office. And I told them, “If something
pops up, let me know.” And then a month later, something did, and it was actually their
legislative director role as well as like a combo of their military
legislative assistant role. So pretty much right exactly
where I wanted to be, and I had a connection, and
I felt really good about it. And so I interviewed; it was probably a little bit
out of my experience level, and so I felt a little insecure about that because I knew that I
didn’t have Hill experience. But the interview went
really well and I walked out, and I kinda felt like I got it. And then weeks went by
and I didn’t hear back, and the writing was kinda on the wall. And then lo and behold, I didn’t get it. And so this was my first try
at something on the Hill. I was 26, and again trying
to make a career change, so kind of a gut check and tough to take. But I stayed at it, and
I just told that office, I said, “you know, if you
hear of anything else, “if you could let me know, “or let them know that
I’m still interested.” And fortunately then, two
offices reached out to me that I didn’t even know about. I had not reached out to them at all, I didn’t know they had open spots. And it turned out that one of the offices that reached out to me
was my eventual boss, Rob Wittman from Virginia. And I will say that I think
God works in mysterious ways, and your path leads to a certain
place for a certain reason. That was a great experience for me that I didn’t end up getting one job; I went through failure. And then eventually ended up in a place where I think I was really supposed to be. And I was there for three years, and it was one of the best
experiences I’ve ever had; I had a great boss, I had a
great staff that I worked with, and I got to work on issues
that I really cared about. And I got to learn the Hill in a way that I wouldn’t
have in the first instance. So the takeaway from that is don’t be discouraged
at your first failure. And even though you’re a Duke grad, it doesn’t make you impervious to failure. We all fail, and so if you
feel like you’re the one that is letting someone
else down, you’re not. We all go through it. So don’t be afraid to fail. And then when you do fail,
’cause it’s going to happen, just stay at it, and
stay with the connections that you have, and again,
sort of like I did, “If something else
works out, let me know.” Stay on those people and encourage them to let you know about
future opportunities. ‘Cause you never know when an office that you have never heard
about will reach out to you, and that’ll end up being one of the best opportunities
of your lifetime. – Thank you. So I’ll start with Darryl for
this next question if may. So I’m sure there’s somebody
in the audience here who wants to get a start in your field. So what advice would
you offer that person, you know, for how to get started, and maybe even out of the box
advice, creative suggestions? – So, I think my path
has been out of the box, and so I would recommend (laughs)
something out of the box. I really think that in policy, so I think in general, there’s a lot of talk about diversity. And I think it is extremely
important in a policy setting, and maybe not in the way you think, but I think diversity of
thought is extremely important. I think that if you find
yourself sitting around a table and there are a lot of
people who look like you and have the same background
as you and same education and experiences, then you need
to find a different table. It’s sort of, you know, what
are you bringing to this? So, I would say, sort of
echoing what I said before, is just find a path that’s unique to you. And to echo what someone said earlier, just don’t be afraid to
step outside the path. I think I thought about this
before, that for the students, those of you out there
who are upwardly mobile, it may feel especially uncomfortable to step outside that path because there’s safety there, you know? “I’ve worked hard to get
to Duke,” and you know, you wanna sorta take the
next step and the next step that will lead you to
success, but I guess, it’s gonna be scary and it might
not work out; you may fail. But I think in the end,
it will be worth it. I think, like Pat said, you know, “You can’t be afraid to fail.” I know for those of you
who are upwardly mobile, there’s a lot farther to fall (laughs) if something doesn’t work out, but I think the reward is
absolutely worth it in the end. So step out there, try to make yourself
stand out from the crowd. – And a quick follow-up, so you mentioned the significance of diversity of thought and background. Are there any people who
operate in your field, who have especially unique backgrounds, that you’ve encountered? – (laughing) So, a lot
of people in my office, I say that I’m one of the
few who is not an attorney. A lot of folks have gone to law school. But then, so I’ll say that
the people who I think who have the unique
backgrounds are the people who have sort of the life experience; they experienced working with the folks that we are trying to help
on a day-to-day basis. I think it’s fantastic for the person who went from undergrad to
grad school or to law school and got a job on somebody’s campaign or went to the Hill to work. That’s fantastic, and I think
they have a lot to offer. But I think what I bring to my job, and the strength that I pull on, is that I have experience
sitting in a living room, you know, I work on health policy, and I have experienced
sitting in the living room with a mom, who, her child’s
on Medicaid, and he has asthma. And she can’t figure out
why he’s not responding to treatment, and I’m sitting in the room, and the carpet is terrible. And she can’t get the
landlord to change the carpet, and she can’t afford a vacuum cleaner. And so I say all that to say that I bring all these
real world experiences with me when I sit down at the table and we’re looking for
solutions to policy problems. I don’t know if that answers
the question? (laughs) – That’s great, yeah, thank you. And also, Jasmin, can I ask
you, for another question, so advice that you would offer a student who’s excited about getting in your field, and maybe some unique
backgrounds of your colleagues? – Yep, so I tell this to everyone who is eager to get on the Hill, there’s no direct path to get on the Hill. And I think any Hill
person will tell you this, everybody’s Hill journey
is completely different. But I would say that
the most important thing is to get your foot in the door. Several of my friends
started off as interns and then worked their way
up as staff assistants, LCs. Usually, I mean staff assistants’ jobs aren’t what people go to
the Hill wanting to do, but it’s a critical part of the journey for you to get your foot in the door. And also, if you see LCs and LA positions which are more policy focused on issues that you might
not wanna do at the time, you should definitely still try to do ’em. Like, for example, whenever
I first started on the Hill, I really wanted to do immigration policy, but I ended up doing health policy. And the job I got didn’t include
the immigration portfolio. And I had learned so much
about the health world. And I ended up, one of the
immigration staffers moved around in our office, and ended up
getting to get immigration and health, but now I do both. So, it’s like getting
your foot in the door is one of the most important parts. In addition, I’ll share just a little bit of background of people in my office. There’s so many different fellowships. There’s a AAAS, American
Academy of Advanced Sciences, who bring these super
incredibly smart people. Last year we had a nuclear scientist who came to work on the Hill for a year just because he wanted to
know how the Hill worked. And then one of my colleagues,
he’s a veterinarian by trade, and then he also did the fellowship and ended up staying to work
as the Ag LA in my office. And he has his veterinary degree, and the Hill’s a very dog friendly place. So everybody with dogs will
come and ask him for vet advice, and he’s like the residential
vet in the building really. But, yeah, so there’s no direct path, and getting your foot in the
door is what I would recommend. – Thank you, Pat? – Yeah, zooming out, I would
say, cliche, but very true, don’t be afraid to dream big. And if you want to be in a
certain place in 5 or 10 years, just think you can do
it, and just go after it. And I’ll say as a critiquer myself almost, when I was an undergrad at
Duke, I had to write a memo, or a few memos unfortunately, I did terrible on them.
(audience laughs) But you had to be a staffer for a senator, and so at the time, I
picked Senator John McCain. And I think he was chairman of the Senate Armed Services
Committee at the time, and I had to advise him on something. And so I wrote and didn’t
do all that well on it. But at the time, I remember
as an undergrad thinking, “I’m never gonna be doing this. (audience laughs)
“I’m never gonna be working “for someone like a McCain. “It’s just not gonna happen
’cause that’s other people “that do that kinda thing.” And now my boss is the number two on the Senate Armed Services Committee and could potentially
be the chairman someday. And so, if you had asked me
then if I would be doing, in a position like this
now, I would’ve said no. But again, you never know
how your life is going to go and how all the things are gonna connect. So, big picture, don’t
be afraid to dream big. Specific things that I would
say to get on the Hill, I think Jasmin hit it on the head, of there isn’t a certain route. So don’t feel like if you
don’t go to law school, or you don’t get your poli-sci
masters or whatever it is, you don’t get the right
internship right off the bat, that you’re not gonna get
into the right office, and you’re never gonna be a staffer. It’s just not the case. I have a couple examples. One actually, I just
reconnected with a good buddy. He was actually the Blue Devil
here when I was an undergrad, and a heck of a good one too. He can do back-flips and everything. He went to Duke Law and went to the Hill and was just on a
committee staff as a lawyer and just wanted to do kind
of wonky lawyer-type stuff. Well the committee chairman
at the time really liked him and said, “Why don’t
you move out to Kansas “and run my campaign out there.” The only issue being that this gentleman had never been to Kansas in his life. And so he accepted, went to Kansas, the senator then won the race that he was the campaign chairman of. The senator then went to Kansas and said, “Why don’t you come back to
D.C. and be my chief of staff?” And the chief of staff is the
top position in the office, and for a senator, that’s
even a bigger deal. So I say all that because this guy had zero interest in being in politics. He just wanted to do lawyer-type stuff. And now he’s this chief of staff for a senator of a state that
he had never been to before. So you can take all those kinds of routes. One more example, I have a good buddy. I work for a Mississippi senator. The other Mississippi senator, one of my counterparts in defense world, he went to Ole Miss
and majored in theater. And he was one of the lead roles in all of his theater things. He can sing and dance
and do all that stuff. He has zero defense background whatsoever and never wanted to do it. But he was dating a gal
who was moving to D.C. And so he’s like, “I
better move to D.C. too. And one thing led to another, and now he’s one of the top
defense staffers on the Hill for a senator who is on Appropriations. So, you can major in theater,
you could be the Blue Devil and go to law school, and
somehow you can end up in really good positions
on the Hill anyway. (audience laughs)
– Wonderful, thank you. So I have one more question and then we’ll open it up to
the audience for questions. So please do, if you have
something on your mind, get ready to ask it. Final question, I’ll start
with you Jasmin, if I may. Could you tell us a little bit about someone who helped
you advance in your career or who’s helped you navigate through your profession thus far? – Yeah, so I think I’ve
had so many people help me throughout my lifetime, so many mentors. But specifically on the Hill, I would say whenever I
was doing my fellowship, I did it in Congressman
Jimmy Gomez’s office, who represents downtown L.A. The LD in that office basically
took me under his wing. And he would take me to
like negotiations on policy that we were working
on with other offices. And he basically walked me
through the legislative process. And here, you’ll take classes
on how things work on the Hill and like how a bill becomes
a law, but it’s different. (laughs) It’s not exactly the same, and there’s a lot of going around rules. But you basically have to
do it to understand it, and he showed me the process. He helped me take my bill ideas, and he also helped me kind
of drive that process, and I think that made me marketable for the position I have now. So I would definitely say the biggest advice I could give
you is try to find a mentor and have them teach you what they do, and that’s extremely helpful. So shout-out to Andrew Noh,
who’s the LD who helped me out. – Thank you. – I think I would echo what Jasmin said, that I’ve had mentors all throughout life, you know, coaches, teachers,
Sunday school teachers, just so many people
helping me along the way. And I think my advice to you all would be, I sort of think about needing at base, three different mentors, types of mentors. So someone who is at
the same level as you, maybe a classmate of yours
who has similar interests, someone who you admire. And having sort of the
mentorship-type relationship with that person can be really helpful. And then someone who’s maybe
three to five years out, you know, three to five
years out from you, where you would like to
be in three to five years, and sort of building that
sort of relationship. And then someone who you
know, 10 to 20 years out, someone who you would
wanna be in their position in a decade or two, having that type of
mentorship relationship. But I guess in general I would say, look for mentors in unusual places. Not to say it’s unusual,
but I think that I’ve found a lot of mentors here at Sanford. It was a wonderful experience for me. The job I have now, Jenny Owen, who was a professor at Sanford, who became the policy director
in the governor’s office, she’s the reason why I have this job now. So take care of those networks. Keep those mentors in your life even if you’re just shooting ’em an email. I have a list of people, who anytime anything happens in my life, it can be (laughs) really really small, I will send them an email. And they might not care,
but they’ve heard from me this year, and I’m on their radar. So take care of those networks. Bring those mentors along
with you as you move forward. – I’ve been blessed to have
a few mentors in my life, and as I mentioned earlier, I got to work for the
basketball team here, and Coach K’s fortunately been
a really good mentor for me. And I think one of the main
things that he’s taught me is the idea of next play, and
that’s a basketball thing, but it’s also a life thing of, you know, if you’re graduating here,
and you graduate at Duke, maybe you have a 4.0, you have a great GPA or whatever it is, you landed a great job. The next play of that is
don’t rest on your laurels, you did a great job as an undergrad, but now you’re entering the career world, and what are you gonna do next? Like what is your next value-add? Or the other part of next play is if something didn’t work out. Maybe you didn’t have the greatest GPA. Maybe you didn’t get the
best job right off the bat. How are you gonna perform in the next job and do better so that you can
still end up where you’re at? So next play of just
keep going, keep at it. Next person I had actually
is in the crowd today, is Chris Simmons, he works at Duke, he’s the Vice-President here at Duke, incredible mentor for me. I mentioned earlier how
I’d interviewed for a job in an Alabama office; Chris
introduced me to that office. So I’d say for someone like him, someone who’s interested in
you, who is invested in you, and who can also open some doors for you. Mentors want to be asked
to do things for people that they actually care
about, and who have potential. And so all of you if you’re in this room, and you care about your
career, and you’re at Duke, there’s no doubt in my mind
that you all have potential to do some amazing things. So latch onto people who can help you, and ask them directly to do it for you. I always say that the
easiest thing for me to do is to help someone who
knows where they wanna go. So don’t just ask me or any of us, “Hey, I wanna be in politics.” Okay, “Where do you wanna be? “What office, what committee? “What issue area, like
what keeps you ticking?” So be specific. And Chris has been a really
good mentor for me in that way, just connecting me with people that he thinks would
be in my interest area, politically or ideologically. And then the last person for
me was my first chief of staff, a woman named Jamie Miller. Fortunately for me, she
played college basketball, and so I think she appreciated
my basketball background, at least at a staff level. And she’s been an incredible mentor for me because she’s still in the defense realm. She’s the number two
legislative affairs officer over at the Pentagon right now
and is doing an amazing job. And so, she hired me first on the Hill. She took a chance on someone who didn’t really have Hill experience. And now she’s stayed in
my life the whole time, and we kinda work together and mutually help each
other out on defense issues. So, I would say again: next play, also someone who can
connect you with folks, and then someone who’s gonna
be there throughout your life, is working in the same issue area as you. – Thank you, thank you all
so much of this wisdom. I hope you’ll join me
in giving our panelists a warm round of applause.
(everyone applauds)

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