By Emma Harrington ’20
As the CES Peer Advisor, I can talk all day long about what to say in a cover letter or how to format a resume. But that doesn’t mean I’ll have everything figured out about my future the second they hand me a diploma next May.
As a Politics and Government student, many of my peers are already buying LSAT study guides or looking at graduate school programs—but I’m pretty confused about what my next steps will be once I become a Logger alumna.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from spending so much time in Career and Employment Services (CES), it’s that college is an excellent time to explore new careers. So I applied to participate in Take a Logger to Work (TLW), hoping to job shadow David Elliot ’83, Policy Director for the Washington Secretary of State.
Four of us were matched with Mr. Elliot, so we carpooled (Loggers Live Green!) to Olympia. The chance to see his office in the Legislative Building on the Washington State Capitol campus was a not-to-miss opportunity!
While there, we got to hang out with a student from UWT who’s been working closely with Mr. Elliot as an intern for the Secretary of State’s office. It was interesting (in a politics nerd kind of way) to hear about the classes he takes at his university; and I was intrigued to learn about his life this semester as an intern.
If the idea of working alongside people like Mr. Elliot interests you too, check out the legislative internship program.
In preparation for our visit, Mr. Elliot assigned us some homework—something I thought I’d be leaving behind in college! We read State Senate Bill 5063 because he planned to introduce us to one of its authors, Puget Sound grad RaShelle Davis ’04.
Ms. Davis works as an attorney in Governor Jay Inslee’s Policy Office. We got to chat with her about how she went from Puget Sound to the Governor’s office, and about her bill, SB5063. Given that it’s about postage, the bill might initially seem straightforward and boring. But it’s actually quite complicated and could have a major affect on the ease of voting in Washington state.
It made a real impact on me to speak with Ms. Davis—someone who sat in the same classrooms that I do and who was taught by my same professors—and to realize that the things we discuss theoretically in class, she is applying to actual legislation!
Mr. Elliot and Ms. Davis were not the only Logger alumni we met. After graduating last May, Aaron Eskenazi ’18, took a job as a staffer with the Senate State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee. Aaron had great stories about what can happen when a committee is having a hearing on a controversial topic. He also talked about his experiences working seasonally, since his position only exists when the legislature is in session. Seasonal employment is something I previously associated with summer camps—not the government!
Law & Order Lunch
We ate lunch at a cafe on the capital campus with an Assistant Attorney General from the Solicitor General Division of the Attorney General’s Office. Over sandwiches, we talked about his long-term professional relationship with Mr. Elliot, and learned about his appellate work—including some of his most interesting cases. As someone considering law school it was very helpful to hear about his day-to-day life, which isn’t something you learn from watching Law & Order reruns. I’ll admit that quite a bit of the jargon went over my head, but I suppose that is what law school is for!
As the cherry on top of our jam-packed day, Mr. Elliot personally introduced us to Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Her office and her presence truly blew me away.
Meeting such a strong woman in such an important position was an invaluable experience. Hearing about her career trajectory and experiences as a conservative politician in a predominantly liberal legislature was riveting and I cannot thank her enough for sharing her time with us.
One of my professors recently taught our class the concept of “equifinality,” which means that there are many ways to reach the same endpoint. Of all the things Mr. Elliot gave us during our TLW experience, the best was a better understanding that there is no “right” way to get a job in politics.
By introducing us to so many people doing so many different jobs, Mr. Elliot illustrated for us that while Puget Sound is giving us an incredible launching pad, there are many paths we can take from this point and still end up working under the Capitol’s dome.
I’m not saying that I’ll sign up for a career of public service the second I graduate, but thanks to Mr. Elliot I am now much more informed and feel much more comfortable taking my time to find a career path that feels right for me.
If you ever want to learn more about my Take a Logger to Work experience or commiserate about how daunting the post-graduation job search seems, please feel free to contact me on LinkedIn, or visit me during my 2019/20 Peer Advisor office hours!
Want your own chance at a day-long job shadow through Take a Logger to Work? Applications for Winter Break 2020 will go live in October 2019, so keep and eye on the TLW web page for first notice!
Photos courtesy of Emma Harrington
© 2019 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound