Young DNC Staffers Reveal How To Work 7 Days A Week And Love Every Minute
Meena Yi never thought she would work in politics when she was young. She explained simply,
I went to art school.
But for the past two years, the 29-year-old has been working at the heart of politics at the Democratic National Committee in Washington, DC, where she serves as art director.
In the last few weeks of an insane election cycle, Yi told Elite Daily,
This was definitely the right move and the right choice.
She's not alone in this feeling.
Elite Daily spoke to five Millennial women working for the DNC, all of whom expressed excitement and passion about their jobs.
Aside from Yi, three of the women work on the digital team, and one works in communications. They come from across the country (and Canada), and represent a range of experiences and diversity.
With the election reaching its peak, the women are often working seven days a week. But they said they are working with such excellent teams and are so driven by the mission of the DNC that they are inspired daily to keep going with enthusiasm.
Julie Thompson, a 24-year-old digital associate at the DNC, knew she had an interest in politics and wanted to be in DC. But she didn't know exactly how to get into the industry.
There are these super nerds that know the path that they want to take, but that wasn't me.
She worked hard at her previous jobs, including with the Senate Democratic Leader in the Senate of her home state of Michigan, before she got the opportunity to join the DNC's digital team. She packed up her car and moved to Washington at the beginning of this year.
Thompson is from Flint, a city struck with a major water crisis, in large part due to lack of care from the government. Now though, politicians – especially Democrats – are paying attention to Flint and trying to recover the city.
When Thompson walked into the building on her first day of working at the DNC, she saw a sign about the Flint crisis and almost started crying. Thompson said the signs confirmed to her that "this is not all talk, it's very real. People do care, and they're here to help."
This idea was reinforced when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton brought Flint up during a debate.
That was crazy. No one had cared about Flint for so long – since the '70s, you know?
Rabiah Elisa, a 23-year-old on the digital team who writes content for the @AfAmDemocrats Twitter account, echoed this, saying Clinton "bridged such a necessary gap" when she brought up implicit bias during the first presidential debate.
Seeing this support for a range of issues gives the women faith in the organization.
When I walked into the DNC, I knew that I was surrounded by people who got this job because they feel like their purpose is to do the most good.
Elisa said she "hit the ground running" from the moment she started in late summer 2015.
In addition to the Twitter account, she works as an email writer, campaigner and fundraiser on the digital team. She was working on email fundraising from the very start for every Democratic campaign across the country.
The pace has always been pretty rapid.
Plus – because she works on the internet, where conversations are 24/7 – her work is often seven days a week. But the drive to improve conditions (and keep "the severity of one particular candidate" out of the White House) keeps her going.
We come in every day knowing that we're fighting for this.
Thompson's work is "nonstop," but she said,
You've just gotta keep doing it. You've gotta keep waking up for Flint and other places, hoping that one day it will be OK and the work you're doing will make a difference.
Jenna Price, a 24-year-old assistant press secretary, said she's exhausted as the election approaches. But she steps back and remembers she's working for a cause greater than herself.
Price added it's easy to stay motivated when you're surrounded by "really, really passionate" co-workers.
Morgan Burke – a 23-year-old who took a year off from college to work on the 2012 Obama campaign, and has been a digital content manager at the DNC since June 2015 – had nothing but bubbling praise for her co-workers. She said, "It's very inspiring for me to see that and be around a smart and motivated and dynamic group of co-workers and leaders."
And of course, it would be a drag to spend seven days a week with co-workers you didn't like.
Yi said, "Especially because we're working every single day, it would be hard to work with people you're not on the same page with."
Thompson added they still "have fun and play constantly," even through the hard work.
The women say their co-workers are not only driven, but inspiringly diverse.
Price said there's a range of people, from gender to race to sexual orientation to religion.
This is actually the most diverse environment I've ever been in.
The digital team is majority female and is led by women. Thompson said,
You kind of look around sometimes, and you're like, 'Damn, I work with so many women.'
Elisa explained you see diversity not just at the colleague level: The top five leaders of the DNC are African American men and women, including interim chairperson Donna Brazile.
Elisa said this diversity is inherent because the DNC is addressing so many different communities.
These communities "have to be properly represented," Elisa said, by people who understand them. So, the directors of outreach are from the communities they reach out to.
This is why the digital team is filled with so many young people. Because we understand memes.
Burke works on all the social media platforms for the DNC, and helps with those of constituency groups. (She went on record to say the DNC's official stance is "gif," with a hard "G.")
She says it's often "stressful" being the one to put out the party's information and convey it in fun digital forms. She doesn't laugh when she sees typos from other organizations, because now that's her own fear.
In addition to her youth, Burke's overflowing positivity makes her a great fit for conveying messages in fun formats.
I'm a very optimistic person, and am inspired by politics more than I see the cynicism in it.
Ultimately, it's optimism – a belief that things can improve – that drives all of these women.
It makes a world of difference for your work to mean something to you. And not just something, everything. I'm representing the beliefs and values and hopes and dreams of people I love – and the stranger sitting next to me.
She aims to bring this sense of responsibility to her work. She said,
When you're aware of a gross injustice and a problem and you say nothing, you're a part of the problem. So [we have] a platform where we can say we know what's going on. We're not ignorant to it. We're not neglecting it, and we will not brush it under the rug. I'm going to tell you, in 140 characters even, that these issues are not yours alone to deal with.
It took Yi a long time to figure out what she wanted to do, so she has empathy for those of us in the same dilemma.
Her best advice is simple:
Keep doing something.
Thompson, who struggled with her own path, echoed this sentiment:
You leave one place knowing that you have a better focus on what you want to do next.
Elisa pointed out,
I don't think anyone should embark on their life with a specific destination. The best part about being our age is where you find yourself, and embracing where you are in that moment and making something out of that.
There are some proactive moves you can make to figure out what you want to do.
Elisa advised following your passions.
Ask yourself what you care about, and go there.
She also said you should "talk to people and ask questions, and find very smart women to talk to or to listen to."
Don't worry about it too much. If you work hard enough, people will notice that, and that will get you further than kissing somebody's ass. It makes a big difference.
Although all the women took different paths to get to the DNC, like Yi, they know this is the right place for them this year.
Burke, a self-described "history nerd," said, "I don't think I could ever have a job that I didn't love and didn't feel passionate about and believe in."
Price said she "couldn't have asked for a better experience," while Elisa said she "couldn't imagine what else [she] would be doing this election."
Thompson got overwhelmed while speaking about how great her experience and team have been. She said,
I'm gonna go give everybody a hug when I get back inside.
And then, she got back to work.
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