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Current time:0:00Total duration:6:46

District representative: How I got my job and where I'm going

Video transcript

My history really begins when I moved to the United States from Venezuela in fifth grade. During that time, Hugo Chavez had come into power in Venezuela, and my mother and father didn't feel comfortable about what my safety situation was going to look like in the following years, so I moved in with my mother in Virginia. At that time, I didn't know any English. I didn't really know how things worked socially, so something as silly as asking a girl that I liked to hang out ended up with me asking her to grab coffee in fifth grade. So as I went through middle school and high school, I started getting more of an idea of what I needed to do in class, for the language, and socially I started making some friends. I personally didn't know what the plan was or what people were supposed to do. My father in Venezuela was a doctor and my mother had studied education, however she didn't know how the system worked here specifically, so it wasn't something that we talked about at home. However, my friends at the time, they were all planning for college. It was a very affluent area, and I think I was very privileged and lucky to be able to be around them. I didn't come from particular wealth, but being around them gave me that drive to say I want to be with my friends. Where are they going? They're going to college. Where are they going to college? And I ended up attending James Madison University in Virginia, and I studied philosophy, I studied sociology, and psychology as my major finally. And I personally think that the sociology and philosophy that I studied in college was really helpful just in taking a step back and seeing the different perspectives and trying to really step into other people's shoes and see how, whether or not you agree with them, they arrived at that perspective through their own looking glass, and that means their experiences throughout their life. So no matter what, you can't be angry at somebody. You can only help to understand it and see how you can be of assistance. When I graduated college, I really hadn't made a plan for what would happen after. I wasn't going to grad school. I wanted to take some time. However, with psychology if you don't start in your internships to plan for grad school and start applying, there aren't really a lot of options after graduating if you're an undergrad. So I went back home to live with my mother. So I ended up staying on her couch. And it was great to see my mom and my sisters again more, but it gave me a little bit more drive to say I think it's time for me to go somewhere else and not really have a safety net, maybe not look for a job that a family member or a friend was gonna give me, but really look for something that gave me more meaning. So I moved to Los Angeles at the time. My girl friend from college was living here, so that made the transition a lot easier. I originally moved with $400. After I bought the ticket that's what I had left. So it was a little tough at first, but I found a job working at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy doing not behavior interventions at first. It was a teacher assistant position. But I worked with my boss and kinda sold them on some of the things that I thought that we could do for the kids to improve the time that the kids spent in the classrooms and maybe to decrease some of the time that the kids were spending outside of the classroom. So I was able to transition that role to a teacher assistant and behavior intervention assistant. After Camino Nuevo, my boss, who was very helpful in letting me define what my role was there, he told me after the first year and a half, he said look, if you don't leave this year, I'm gonna have to fire you. You need to find a path, and you need to start looking for something and I don't think that it will be education at this level, I think that you can work more on the policy aspect than kinda planning at that larger level. So he introduced me to his previous public relations job, the company called Sorrell Associates, and I started a temporary position internship with them, getting to work on all different types of issues including education, but whether it's land use and access campaigns and communications, crisis management. So I really got to sample a lot of different issues on the private sector. After about seven months, one of my bosses there got a call from a previous vice president who were at their company who was now the district director so the manager for a legislative office. And she said, hey, do you have any people, any interns there, anyone in the office that you think would be a good fit to do outreach, that is bilingual? And I was recommended and I went on my first interview. Obviously it was assisted and I think they were cheering for me, so I was offered the job after talking a little bit about what I did at the school. District representatives on average did not need to study or particularly study political science or sociology. For that matter, there's no test to get in. There's no application other than the job application. There's not certification. But the general track that most people take there is once they begin to get involved with politics, they volunteer on campaigns, then engages as unpaid volunteers first and really get to grow with candidates. And then when candidates transition into elected office, they're bringing some of the people that were essential to their team. For district representatives, there are three or four paths that I see are common. A lot of district representatives will go to law school or pursue a higher education degree, usually tend to veer towards law, to then go into public service or public policy. A lot of other reps will stay in their jobs. A lot of reps will transition to community organizations or companies that they had worked with and they got to know really well, and what they did and it sparked something for them. And a lot of them will just kinda burn out and take a little bit of time to figure out what they want to do next.
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