Jeffrey Weinhagen

Year of Graduation: 2015

Major(s): Hispanic Studies

Minor(s): Political Science


Give provide a brief description of your current position and what your work entails.                                   

I work for the Metropolitan Council’s Office of Equal Opportunity as an Equal Opportunity Consultant; as a government agency we strive to provide equal opportunity for our internal and external customers and that is exactly what our office does. Much of my position is focused on working with our office’s Small Business Unit implementing a federally mandated program known as the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. I create and set project specific DBE construction and professional technical goals or, more simply put, percentages of work needed to be done by small minority or women-owned businesses on eligible projects. Coupled with goal setting, I work to ensure contract compliance including on contracts for one of our agency’s biggest entities, Metro Transit. I also have the pleasure of working with small minority or women-owned businesses to obtain certification with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program by serving as a certifier. My work is not merely limited to working with the Small Business Unit as I also support the office’s Council-wide continuous internal and external equity initiatives.

How did you decide on your majors and career path?        

At a young age my fascination for other cultures flourished during my time at the Boys and Girls Club. This attraction to other cultures did not halt after entering high school at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School – Twin Cities; I grew fonder of learning and developing through the exposure to other cultures. In high school my interest peaked with language, especially Spanish. At CSB/SJU I chose a path less traveled by many students as I began to focus my collegiate studies on the plethora of Hispanic cultures via my major in Hispanic Studies. My interest for political science was triggered while taking a course second semester of my first year. I told myself if I received at least an AB in this class, I would adopt it as my minor. During my tenure as a student I was able to place connections and commonalities with my studies in political science and Hispanic Studies. During the summer of 2014, I was introduced to the Metropolitan Council by becoming an Urban Scholar Intern with the Office of Equal Opportunity. After this positive exposure to local and regional government, I instantaneously knew I wanted to become a public servant that worked with diversity initiatives. By building my own education at CSB/SJU and creating lifelong connections, I was able to create my career path.

What path did you take to your current position?  

I attended Cristo Rey Jesuit High School – Twin Cities; a part of the education at this particular school involved professional development through a corporate work study program. At 14 years old I held my first job at a major corporation, Wells Fargo Public Finance, and I ended my high school career at the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center in the Communications Department. In order to pay for a top-notch Catholic education at a fraction of the price, the corporate work study program allowed me to work on building my resume. With the corporate experiences I carried from high school, I began my four years of work in college with the CSB/SJU Admission Office, eventually working my way up to the Student Manager. Each summer of my college career I was able to land an internship that in some way positively impacted my growth as a professional. One example in particular was my internship with my current employer, the Metropolitan Council. After graduating from college, I was fortunate to interview for a position with the Metropolitan Council as a Program Technical Specialist. For one year I worked diligently to learn the processes of the office and the small business programs. In November, 2016, I accepted my current position as an Equal Opportunity Consultant and I could not be any happier with my job! 

What are some activities and resources at CSB/SJU that you utilized to prepare yourself for your career?

Like many students at CSB/SJU, I spent many hours in the library. However, if I was not in the library I was deeply involved with the campus group, ELAC (Exploring Latin American Cultures). During my four years I dedicated much of my time to ELAC including serving as the club’s Vice President and Public Relations Officer. Through ELAC I was able to build many of my cultural and volunteer experiences which I carried in some capacity to my current role as an Equal Opportunity Consultant. Immediately upon attending SJU I utilized the resources offered by Career Services. I met on a monthly basis with the Director of Career Services, Heidi, and we prepared a stellar resume and practiced interview etiquette. I can honestly say if it weren’t for the help and support of Career Services, I would not have the career I have now. My time was also spent with the university’s Academic Advising office mapping out what courses would be the best for me and my educational path. 

What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?  

My work for the Metropolitan Council’s Office of Equal Opportunity lies on the foundation of my life’s achievements and goals. I have always strived to help those who need it the most, and my work at the Council allows me to channel my passions for equal opportunity. I am a public servant and I pride myself in the work I do for my community. Our office works tirelessly every day to reduce disparities placed on individuals who are historically underrepresented; this can range from helping small businesses who lack resources or capital to assisting a customer or employee who was mistreated because of the color of their skin. The work we do in our office never goes unseen and
we all have a devoted passion for the work we do on a daily basis. I can honestly say I love my job! I am able to go to bed at night thinking about what opportunity I will be able to give someone tomorrow.

The biggest challenge for me is keeping up with the extremely heavy workload. Every day is different and every day comes with its series of challenges. The work that is done in our office is needed, it’s vital for the organization to function, and our office is geared to work for the agency’s nearly 5,000 employees. A typical day could go as smooth as possible and the next day could be filled with meetings, deadlines, DBE goal setting, and random necessary projects. I thank CSB/SJU for instilling in me the importance of time management because in my job I utilize this skill on a daily basis.

What skills are most important to your work? 

Important skills I utilize in my every day work at the Council include time management, problem solving, adaptability, collaboration, and critical thinking. All of these skills have contributed greatly to building my career and my success in public service. My four years at CSB/SJU helped tremendously with acquiring these skills. With the help of Career Services I was able to identify and illustrate my strengths and utilize them to find the work I desired.

What advice do you have for CSB/SJU students?

Stay positive, be a risk taker, use your resources. If you have the opportunity to work during the summer, find an internship that fits your studies and start building your network. If you build trust and rapport with a company, you can see yourself beginning your journey and know you will always have a place to flourish professionally. I can attest to the statement by using myself as an example of how I found my way to the Metropolitan Council. Lastly, take your education seriously! The real world can wait, as long as you apply yourself and dedicate your full potential to the work you exude. When you graduate you become a part of the world’s best alumni association, and make sure you utilize them!!

(January 2017)