Deputy Political Director, NewDem Action Fund

Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?

During my first few years in the Politics PhD program, I had planned to pursue an academic career; however, that changed for two reasons. First, the realities of the academic job market and lessons learned from peers in my program made it clear how difficult the academic path can be. Second, the 2016 presidential election made clear that our country had a desperate need for more people to become involved in public service.

As I finished my dissertation, I began volunteering with a local community group in the greater Boston area. I met incredible people and felt I was having an impact that I couldn’t have had with my academic work. I realized that the skills needed to be a successful academic today – creativity, determination, and entrepreneurship – can position someone to have a huge impact anywhere. This helped me decide that I wanted to work with Democratic campaigns, especially for Elizabeth Warren.

Through my organizing work, I connected with a City Councilor in need of campaign staff. I began working for him, first as a volunteer and later as paid staff. I moved on to senior roles on a Congressional campaign and Elizabeth Warren’s Senate reelection. I’m now working with the NewDem Action Fund in Washington, DC, and am very excited to help reelect over 100 Democratic Members of Congress in 2020.

What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?

My time spent in graduate school was critical for developing my interest in community organizing and for honing a core set of skills I use on a daily basis, including public speaking and critical thinking. The ability to think critically, organize thoughts logically, and present them clearly is fundamental in so many places outside the classroom. Graduate school trained me to do these things well. Getting a PhD is also a long exercise in self-discipline. It taught me about the ways I learn and work best – a piece of self-awareness that has proven very valuable in my professional life.

What services and/or resources did you use while at Brandeis for your career search? (i.e. The Center for Career and Professional Development, program administrators, professors, peers etc.)

I initially relied mostly on professors and peers. As I began to explore opportunities outside of academia, I turned more to the Center for Career and Professional Development to find diverse resources outside my field.

What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their job search?

Networking and building strong relationships is key. For me, the best professional relationships have come from working with people on a project or task. It’s the best way to expose others to your skills and strengths, which helps them honestly vouch for your work and give you actionable professional advice.

At each step of your search, make sure you are utilizing your existing networks for advice and connections, including peers, professors, former co-workers, etc. I’ve found that sometimes the best leads come from people who I didn’t think of as professional contacts.

Finally, don’t be afraid to explore things that are off the beaten path for your discipline. A successful education is one that provides you with the skills and experience not only to do what you’re good at - but to also do what you love.  If you have an interest that’s something you might consider doing professionally, find a group to volunteer or engage with. You’ll get a chance to work with others in that area and will get a better sense of whether it’s a good fit for you.