Major: Political Science
Year of Graduation: 2015
Current Position/Location: Manager, Office of the Foundation President, Obama Foundation (Chicago, IL)
Please give a brief description of your current position.
I currently work at the Obama Foundation as a Manager in the Office of the Foundation President. Our office manages the Foundation’s day-to-day operations, helping to implement the organization’s overall strategic goals and vision.
What path did you follow to get to your current position?
During my time at St. Ben's, I interned at the Department of Justice and White House in Washington, DC. After graduating in 2015, I moved to Washington and worked as an Assistant and then Policy Advisor in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House. Specifically, my office worked to engage local elected officials and my portfolio included healthcare, women's issues, and youth opportunity programs. I finished my tenure as a political appointee in the Obama Administration and then transitioned to the Obama Foundation in 2017. Since joining the Obama Foundation, I have supported our Chief Operating Officer with internal operations, Executive Director with the Obama Presidential Center project, and now our Foundation President with day-to-day management of the organization.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
I recommend looking into an external internship that can help you clarify what you'd like to do (or not do) after graduating from CSB/SJU. I thought I wanted to go to law school until I interned at the Department of Justice and realized that I was more interested in public policy. Additionally, my internship opportunities allowed me to build relationships with staff who became essential mentors for me when I was job searching. Lastly, when it comes to internships (especially in DC), make sure you aim high and apply for every organization you are interested in.
What skills are important in your field?
First, it is important to be organized and detail oriented. I have found that positions in the government, on a campaign, or at a start-up organization are very fast-paced and organization is key to managing many tasks at once. Secondly, I think it is important to be able to influence and motivate others. I have found that the best way to do this is by building relationships with your colleagues and being a team player.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position?
I have loved working in public service because the work is mission-driven. I have always felt that my work has allowed me to help people.
The hours in governments and start-up organizations are long. It has been challenging to find balance between work and life.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I learned how to be a leader through my opportunities on the St. Ben's Senate and Golf Team. Participating in the DC Summer Study Program was what changed everything for me -- I fell in love with DC and knew I wanted to work in government. Also, I was the Chair of the College Democrats, which meant I needed to find volunteers and make sure we were engaged during a presidential election year. If you have a chance to lead a club at CSB/SJU, I recommend taking it -- you quickly learn how to organize and lead.