Political Post: Lessons Learned From Working on Campaigns

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Today is Election Day. By now you’re probably oversaturated with political ads on TV, pamphlets on your door, phone calls asking you to vote, and of course…your friends blasting your Facebook timelines with your urge to “unfollow posts.”

There is so much more to Election Day than showing up to your polling location at 6AM to vote. This day has been counted down since early summer. Campaigners have put in miles and miles in their running shoes knocking on doors, attending political rallies, and “getting out the vote.” As it gets closer to the election, they are working six to seven days a week around the clock crunching numbers, analyzing voter statistics, and making sure every corner of their district has been exposed to the campaign. Even though I have not been involved in politics upon accepting my federal government job (cue Hatch Act), I have a soft spot for all those politicos and seasoned campaigners.

When I was 17 I signed up to volunteer for a political campaign. I had no interest in politics and I just wanted to knock out my 200 hour volunteer requirement for high school graduation. I barely wanted to dip my foot into politics but got immersed. I enjoyed the organized chaos, meeting people who share similar beliefs, and feeling like I was making an impact in my community. As an outspoken person I quickly learned that political campaigns were for me.

These are some of the takeaways from my campaign days:

-Being Able to Stand Up for my Beliefs: Every day I was challenged. You would be surprised at how rude someone can be to someone they don’t even know because they wore the “wrong” politician’s sticker or shirt. People asked me “Why would you work for someone like that?” and say things like “You’re too young and smart to be a Republican.” I had to learn how to not let anyone’s opinions affect me, how to effectively state my beliefs, and how to stand up for myself. Working on campaigns gave me the confidence I needed to survive four years of debates and writing argumentative papers in my government classes. I also learned how to listen to other people without getting heated up. You’re not going to agree with everyone’s political beliefs. Nobody sees the world the same way you do.

-Losing with Pride: Out of all the jobs I had in college, nothing was harder than working on a political campaign. It’s even harder to know that you can put in countless hours into a candidate for them to lose by ten…sometimes one point. I learned to never give up even when there was no hope of winning and I had to lose with pride. During primaries, I would be campaigning against my friend’s candidates but once our Party chose the winner we had to bond together for one cause. I had a lot of friends working for the opposite party and I treated them with respect and did not undermine their candidate. Remember to always be a humble winner or lose with pride. You will not win everything in life but you have to learn how to bounce back and not let a loss affect you.

-Passion for Public Service: When I was applying for college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pick as my major. I was planning on majoring in psychology or journalism until I worked on my first political campaign. Before the campaign, my only exposure to politics was going to the voting booths with my parents every year and taking a high school government class that did not peak my interest. Ironically, I majored in government and international politics. I really loved being around other like-minded people regardless of their political affiliation because they cared about the community, social and economic issues, and were advocates of their word. Public service has been ingrained in me since the first day of volunteering for a political campaign. One day I hope to run for office and give back to my community that gave so much to me.

Next time a political campaigner calls you, knocks on your door, or asks you to put out yard sign outside your house think about how much time that person is putting into a cause. Politics is just more than talking heads on Fox News and CNN. Being involved in politics means that you believe you can enact change through your words and actions. Anyone can be involved and everyone can make a difference. Now go out and vote!

-KC

Mask Off

Everyone has insecurities but nobody likes to talk about them openly. I’m here to tell you it is completely normal and okay. You should have no shame in sharing what you are insecure about with people who love and care for you. The right people in your life will not judge you. They are always there for you no matter what. I am going to share my insecurities to show others that they are not alone.

People tell me that I come off as a very confident person. Some people have even gone far enough to say that I can be arrogant at times. Yes, I am very proud of my accomplishments and my job that gives me the work life balance most people only dream of…but do you want to know the truth behind my “arrogance?” It masks my biggest insecurity that comes with my career.

I am afraid that I will never have it all.

Money and recognition mean nothing to me if I have nobody in my life to share that with. My insecurities about my job choice have gone so far sometimes that I imagine what my life would be like if I did not have to make such big sacrifices. I have met so many amazing people since I started my job two years ago. It’s nice to meet others who have so much in common with you right off the bat. It seems like you have to be a certain type of person to be in a job that is very selfless, committed to a higher cause, and not motivated by money.

It seems like my personal life has gone through the same cycle over and over again: meet someone, hit it off immediately, talk about life, realize we are going to two different places (physical location or career wise), and drift apart. I talk to a lot of my friends in my career field who tell me the exact same thing. The majority of their potential relationships end because one or both of them move away or they work through the move and a long distance relationship gets strained a few months later. It happens so much to me that I’m prepared for all the typical responses:

“You are moving too far.”
“I can’t do long distance.”
“I will not move for you and I don’t want you to move for me.”
“You have too much going for you to leave your job.”

It’s hard to watch my friends stay in one place after graduating college, settle down, buy a house, get married, have babies, and celebrate life’s milestones with their families. While this is happening, I’m moving to a new location far away, making new friends, adjusting to my job, and coming home to an empty apartment every night. I fill my time with family visiting, hanging out with friends on the weekend, volunteering after work as a crew coach, working out, and travelling…but the looming fear of getting stuck in this lifestyle alone drives my insecurities through the roof.

Half my friends will tell me to stay in New York because my job has given me everything I wanted career wise, while some friends tell me that I’m overacting and I should just focus on myself.

In the meantime, I’m going to just pray and believe that God has a plan for me that is greater than I can dream of. Even if you’re not religious or spiritual, something good will come your way. I believe that certain friendships or relationships are not meant to last forever, but the right people will always find a way back into your life. I grew out of high school and college friendships just for them to form again later on in my life. As insecure as I am about my personal life, I truly believe that the right person will help me learn how to compromise while supporting my decisions.

-KC

Finding Your Niche.

Have you ever questioned if you were in the right job? I read an article that stated that the “average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during his or her career.”
(Source https://www.thebalance.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467)

This statistic did not surprise me considering the number of people I graduated with in 2013 already changed jobs more than once. People get married, have kids, move out of state, go to grad school, and have quarter life crises which prompts a job change. The trend I notice amongst people my age is that everyone is either bored, feeling underutilized, or wants a job with better pay.

My particular situation after college was that I went to a career field that I felt had very little related to my studies. On my first day of orientation, everyone went around the room to introduce themselves and one of the questions asked was “What is your educational background?” As my fellow coworkers went around the room I heard “marketing,” “economics,” “master’s in business administration,” “logistics and supply chain,” and when the question came to me I froze and said, “government and international politics…” with a confused look on my face. I thought the lack of a degree related to logistics was the only thing I had to worry about until I realized a good chunk of my intern class had prior military service and I was REALLY lost in the new jargon, the structure…pretty much everything. I immediately felt out of place and kept questioning if I was going to succeed or fail miserably…

If I could go back to July 2015, I would have told myself I was going to be OKAY! If you want to stay in your job and succeed at something completely new to you…here’s how to find your niche.

There is no such thing as a “useless” degree.

As a humanities and social sciences friends probably hear this a lot. I could have easily majored in a more marketable degree in STEM field(science/technology/engineering/math), but I am much more interested in history and government. EVERY degree is useful. From a physics degree to a theatre degree, you have a lot to offer to the work force. Find your strengths from your education. Majoring in humanities helped me learn how to research academic journals, strengthen my public speaking and writing skills, learn how to argue and defend topics, collaborate during group projects, and learn how to be open minded to other’ opinions when discussing controversial topic. These are skills I can bring to the workforce. What are some skills you can bring to yours?

Be open minded to everything

I was definitely out of my realm when I started working for the government but our instructors in the intern program I was in told us to be a sponge…soak up everything you learn! If you go into a job with a closed mind and not willing to learn new skills or adapt, you’re going to have a very, very hard time succeeding. I thought I was open minded until I got challenged and had to learn about topics I never learned about before. Some topics were more interesting than others, but I knew I had to be well rounded to be a good logistician.

Being challenged is a part of becoming a better person. There were so many things I would have never been exposed to if it wasn’t for my internship. I was afraid of getting out of my comfort zone, and my job forced me out of it. I was travelling out of state for work, training in the field with Army officers, and going to on the job training to work in environments I’ve never been exposed to. It was mentally challenging, but all of that contributed to the person I became when my internship ended.

Say yes to everything

One of the best parts of my job are the ample opportunities for more education and training. Everyone told me to say “yes” to every training opportunity offered to me. When I first started my job, I had a very narrow view of what logistics was until I took more classes and went to more job training. I started to feel like I became better-rounded and marketable for higher positions. I took on projects, signed up for classes, and travelled to conferences. If you have supportive leadership in your organization, you can have all the opportunities in the world. Outside of work, take classes at a local community college or online. You can always learn new skills no matter what stage you in your career or in your life.

By exposing yourself to new topics, you might find something you never knew you would be interested in. Just say “yes” to new experiences. You never know when you’ll take a class or training opportunity that will lead you to finding your niche.

It took me almost a year into my job until I found my niche. Now I could not imagine having any other job.

Believe in yourself, know your strengths, improve on your weaknesses, and always be willing to learn new things. Complacency will kill your goals and your motivation. Once you get out of your comfort zone, nothing can stop you from making it to the top.

-KC

Graduate School

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Master’s in Public Administration graduation. George Mason. May 2015.

Whether you’re towards the end of your undergraduate degree or a few years into your first job, the possibility of graduate school may have come up in your future plans. When I was in college, I knew I wanted to go to law school or graduate school. I studied for both the LSAT and GRE and researched grad programs that would match what my career goals were.

Many people will tell you that getting your master’s degree right after undergrad is not the right time. There is no such thing as the “right time.” You should decide when you are financially prepared and ready to dive back into school work.

A friend, DG, told me “I didn’t feel burned out at the end of undergrad, and I knew it was something I wanted to do. Why put it off? I’m not tied down by a mortgage, kids, etc. 20s is when you have the most time to be able to invest in yourself.” Here is some advice for applying, surviving, and job searching during grad school:

Getting Into Grad School

What type of degree do you want? In undergrad, I studied Government & International Politics and Conflict Analysis & Resolution but I wanted a master’s degree in a different subject. I researched what types of graduate degrees people had in the field of work I wanted to be in. Check out LinkedIn, look at company profiles, and network with people in your desired job field to see what type of advanced degrees they have. I talked to a lot of my undergrad professors about what master’s and PhD programs they went into.

When choosing a degree, know your options. I asked a friend, OF, what he wish he knew before grad school and he said, “I went to grad school without any plans or ideas of what I wanted to do after so I ended up getting a general MBA instead of a concentration.” OF mentioned that he wish they did more research on concentrations.

-What college(s) do you want to apply to? When considering a grad school you need to look at: -Types of degrees offered -Financial aid/grants/scholarships -Part time v full time programs -Online class offerings -Structure of the class scheduling -Internships -Availability of paid teaching assistant/research assistant jobs -Ability to keep your full time job while attending grad school I chose my college because of the availability of internships in the Washington DC area while paying in state tuition in Virginia. Only a few colleges in Virginia had my master’s degree program so that helped narrow down my search. My master’s program had 100 students in my cohort, so class sizes were small and the professors knew everyone’s name.

Some programs allow you to have a full time job while others do not, a fellow MPA classmate, Michael, mentioned “I wish I knew to apply to full time jobs and that doing both a full time job and grad school is totally doable.” Having a job when you go to school in a more costly area helps so ask your program director if this is possible.

Surviving

What is the workload? In undergrad I took 15-18 (full time) credit hours a semester and in grad school I took nine (full time). I thought nine credits would be half the work but I was in for a reality check. Grad school was 3-4x the work even though I only went to class three times a week. My first week of grad school I had to read over 200 pages before class started and had a paper due the first day of one of my classes. I had to learn how to readjust my study habits, stick to a stricter schedule, and prioritize my time. In undergrad I usually crammed for tests, wrote papers the morning before they were due, and pulled off a lot of As. This was not the case in grad school…an A was much, much harder to get because the professors expect a lot more out of you.

My friend MC gave some advice and she said, “The importance of time management is to make sure you take enough time for yourself so you don’t burn out so early on, especially if you’re also working full time.” Don’t forget to balance life, work, and school. In the long run this will help you develop critical life skills when you start your career.

Job Search

-What type of job do you want after going to grad school? Grad school programs offer plenty of job fairs throughout the academic year. If you are in a two year program, start searching for jobs during your first semester. If time allows, get an internship or part time job in the field of work you are interested in. USAJOBS is a wonderful website for finding internships, called Pathways, for college students and offer you a job once you graduate.

Talk to your career advisers at your school and network…network…network! The majority of my classmates in grad school were working full time jobs in nonprofits, county government, and federal agencies. Make connections because you never know when a job opening might arise at the perfect time!

If you have any questions regarding grad school, drop me a line 🙂

-KC

New Friends in Adulthood

Making new friends when I was growing up was routine for me. I lived in neighborhoods composed of military families that were constantly moving in and out. The person that was your best friend for a couple of years would move and you eventually found another best friend. During the days of dial up Internet, there was no forms of communication like social media or Skype. We also didn’t have phones with free calls or texting and had to share a land line phone with everyone living in your house. It was nearly impossible to maintain these friendships.
Over the years I’ve rekindled and made many new friendships thanks to social media. My best friends from home, Gabrielle, and I went through our yearbooks and found our former classmates through Facebook. It was exiting to see where everyone moved to, went to college, and what their adult lives were like. Social media made everything so convenient.
I’ve stayed in touch with friends from elementary school, former teachers, distant family members in other countries, and even made friends through my makeup Instagram blog. Little did I know staying in touch would be one of my biggest strengths when I left home.
One of my biggest fears after college was maintaining friendships and meeting new people. It was easy as a kid because it was a way of life. As I made my way through high school and college I finally had a close knit group of friends in one place. Once I made my first big move, I had to put in more effort into communication and finding time to balance my responsibilities.

After graduating and getting my first job, I was worried about making new friends. Are people in their 20s and 30s still open to meeting new people? Was it possible to be close to someone you’ve only known in your adult life? Thankfully all of this is true.

I’ve made some of the most meaningful friendships as a result of being more open to others and putting a lot of effort into staying in touch.

Let’s start with my friend Krista. We lived in the same building in college our freshman year in 2009 but our friendship bloomed in the summer of 2016 when she wrote about her boyfriend’s deployment in her blog. That same summer, my Mom left for her year long deployment as well. We started talking about our similar situations, wrote letters and cards back and forth, and next thing you know she becomes one of my closest friends! She’s my go-to person for any and all types of life advice. When I need a nonjudgmental and supportive ear, she’s always there for me. People say “I understand what you’re going through”  but she really understands. From my awkward dates to my quirky diets I follow for health reasons, I have a friend who can give me a clear perspective and opinion on things. Krista will send me voice notes and texts even when she’s super busy just to cheer me up. She’s very empowering and shows strength through optimism (you will feel really inspired when you read her blog )I am forever thankful to know such a caring, thoughtful, and constantly positive friend.
Next is my friend Christina. We met through a mutual friend from my college and instantly clicked. Our friend kept saying “You two have to meet each other” for months on end. After spending my summer in Georgia, I moved back to Richmond for a few short period of time. In that couple of months I spent in Richmond, we instantly became friends. It felt like I reconnected with a friend from my past because we opened up about personal stuff so quickly which usually does not happen to me. She’s one of the people I talk to everyday. She’s open minded, reassuring, and reminds me that I am loved by my friends and family. We always joke that despite being an ESTJ and INFP, dating the complete opposite types of guys, and coming from different upbringings that opposites really make perfect friends. She’s one of the few people I would drive hours to see, meet for lunch, change my mind and actually stay, panic and go look for an outfit, and go out that night with. I do nothing on a whim and she helped me get past that. I am thankful to have someone who doesn’t judge me even when I’m in denial of my life choices and to help me out of my comfort zone.
Lastly, my friends I met at Fort Lee. I met some of the most hard working and dedicated group of people. We all came from so many different walks of life yet I made some of the closest friendships. I know if I go out of my way for one of them, they would do the same for me. They’ve seen me at my highest and lowest points of my life and I am thankful they are still there for me.
Through these friendships I learned that the number of years you know someone doesn’t strengthen your bond, it’s those valuable contributions to your friendship that makes it strong. Don’t feel bad for being closer to someone you met in your 20s compared to someone you met as a child. We change as we grow up and new friendships will not replace the old ones.
-KC

Pulling Myself Back Together

I am back on my blog after a three-month break. Earlier this year I had a lot of family and friends reach out to me because of the unhappy tone of my social media posts about my personal life. I was allowing people and situations take control of my happiness. I lost sight of my goals, dreams, and more lost interest in the things that made me happy like working out, travelling, and blogging.

One night I was browsing through photos on my phone and came across a photo of a quote that read “This too shall pass.”

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At that moment, it hit me. I will not be feeling down forever. Later that night I wrote down three things I wanted to work on:

Stop letting people make me feel anxious over things I cannot control
I was allowing other people’s opinions about me shape how I saw myself. I kept asking:
“Am I good enough?”
“Am I worth it?”
“Am I pretty enough?”
“Am I a good person?”

I counteracted those thoughts with writing down:
“You are here for a reason.”
“You are worth it.”
“You are beautiful.”
“You are a good friend.”

Sometimes I felt like there were no valid reasons to feel anxiety. Never feel like your emotions are invalid and remember to give yourself time to reflect and refocus. You have the right to feel upset and angry but always remember that those feelings are temporary and happiness is always around the corner.

-Stop giving attention to toxic people
I was emotionally draining myself by giving my time to toxic people who were not appreciative of my time or my companionship. I was spreading myself thin to please people who did nothing to contribute to my well-being. My biggest weakness was hanging onto friendships that no longer made me happy. I allowed people make me feel bad about myself and spent time with people that left me feeling unloved. Now I focus on my positive relationships and remember who really cares about me.

-Focus on what makes me happy and write down what I’m thankful for
I had a lot of thoughts about moving back home and going back into my comfort zone of my friends, family, and familiar places until a friend called me and said, “You have an amazing job! I would not leave that place if I were you.” My friends asked if they could visit NYC with me and see where I lived. I began thinking of everything I did not have just two years ago: a stable job, an apartment of my own, my dream car, and the time to travel, coach rowing, and do volunteer work. I became thankful for my journey from a full time grad student with part time jobs to where I am now.

I could not have made all these changes without the constant support of my family, friends, and more importantly my rediscovery of my faith. Through praying, meditating, and learning how to control what makes me emotional I am slowly moving in the right direction. Just remember that when you are feeling like nothing is going right, just remind yourself “this too shall pass.” Everyday I wear a bracelet from MantraBand that says that as a daily reminder that everything is temporary.

-KC

I tried it…I paid for Tinder Plus and Bumble Boost.

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Bumble

I have a love/hate relationship for “dating” apps. I used to think they were a joke when they first came out when I was in college. Who needed to meet someone online when you were living on campus with 6,000 students in the Washington D.C. area? I met people easily being on a sports team, having friends in Greek life, and being super involved in college. Then I left that all behind including my college relationship and I was living in a brand new city two hours away.

My friends enabled me to download Tinder/OK Cupid/Coffee Meets Bagel/etc. They even swiped for me because I was so jaded about the whole idea of using those apps in the first place.

Fast forward to a year later.

Me: “I just bought Tinder Plus.”

Friend: “You’re joking right. You actually paid for Tinder”

You are probably thinking the exact same thing. Why would you pay for extra features on an app? The answer is simple…I was curious about the hype. One of my mottoes in life is “Don’t knock it until you try it.” I tried both Tinder Plus and Bumble Boost. Both have some fun features that come with the paid version.

Tinder Plus

Passport: This is the top reason why I decided to get Tinder Plus. You can set your location to anywhere in the world. I travel a lot for work for weeks at a time. Once I find out where I’m heading to next, I change my location and do a little recon. I first used this feature when I found out I was spending my summer in Augusta, Georgia. I didn’t know anyone there so it was a fun way to find some people to hang out with before I arrived.

Rewind: Ever see that cute guy or gal and you accidentally swiped left after swiping left for the last twenty people? You can rewind and go back to that person’s profile for a double take and swipe right.

Boost: You can make your profile go to the top of the queue. Your profile will get increased exposure and you’ll get a notification saying your profile is being seen by up to 10x the amount of people since your profile is showing up first. A boost lasts 30 minutes. You get one free boost a month.

Other features include hiding ads, extra “super likes”, unlimited swipes, hiding your age, and hiding your distance. I usually hide my distance when I change my location in Passport so I don’t confuse people.

Bumble Boost

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-The BeeLine: Between Tinder and Bumble’s paid features, this is my FAVORITE feature between both. I rarely swipe on Bumble anymore because the BeeLine shows you a list of people that already swiped right on you! Instant confidence boost right? The first time I used it, I had over 50 people who already swiped right on me and all I had to do was instantly match whoever I thought was interesting. Once you swipe that person back, it becomes an instant match.

Rematch: We’re all busy. Sometimes 24 hours in a day will go by in a blink of an eye. On Bumble, a match will expire in 24 hours if you don’t drop a line. Sometimes I’ll match with someone at night, and next thing you know it’s already 7:30PM the day. Now you can rematch all those expired matches.

Extend Time: Free users can only extend time for a match once a day. When you have Bumble Boost, you have unlimited times to extend a match. Feeling nervous about crafting the perfect opening line? Extend your match before it expires. I’ve never used this feature but some people have used it on me. It will send you a notification saying that the other person didn’t want to let you go! Again, confidence points am I right?

Have you tried Tinder Plus or Bumble Boost? Let me know what your experiences are!