BA in Psychology
Minor in Sociology
Commonwealth Honors College
Current Position Title and Affiliation: Legislative Aide to the Office of State Representative Kenneth Gordon
Summary of Position:
I am part of Rep. Gordon’s team and handle legislation and constituent services. I follow bills that the Rep sponsors through the whole legislative process: researching an idea, drafting language, providing testimony for committee hearings, and answering questions other legislators might have. My other primary legislative task is working with the Rep on his budget priorities and amendments. When a constituent contacts our office I am the primary person they engage with. Constituents come to us asking the Rep to support or oppose bills, ask questions about the legislative process, or if they are having difficulties with a state agency (MassHealth, housing cases, RMV, etc.). Recently, I have also been managing our summer internship program. Each day varies and I am exposed to a wide variety of issues that are before the Legislature and constituents in the district.
What do you love most about this career path?
I unexpectedly came into this career after graduating and not knowing how to begin a career that blended my passion for research and informing policy. Being a Legislative Aide has exposed me to many other career paths and has helped me gain a better sense of what path would be best for my interests and goals. Many of the aspects I liked about research like reading and searching for literature and gaining knowledge to come to a conclusion are also found in legislative work. It is also a career where I know I will be making a difference, whether that be helping a constituent one day or helping to support major legislation. Doing district/constituent work is also very rewarding and interesting. I learned so much from resources for people in crisis, to calling bingo, to planning a bridge dedication!
Eventually, I want to transition to working as counsel for a committee or for either chamber of the Legislature. I have learned I want to stay in legislation but find a way to become more knowledgeable about specific issues. Writing bills and researching laws is something I have become more passionate about since starting this job and I realized it is a way to combine the strengths I found in research with my overall goal of playing a part in policymaking.
How did UMass and/or Psychological and Brain Sciences help prepare you?
My experience at UMass and PBS helped me in many ways! I don't directly use knowledge from my classes every day like a researcher or clinician would. However, I have a deeper understanding of people and felt more prepared to help constituents with more sensitive issues. Being a research assistant with the CAD Lab and completing a systematic literature review for my thesis helped me understand where my strengths in research lie and gave me the confidence to be able to speak on issues I am knowledgeable on. Our classes were designed to emphasize the importance of discussion and how to be active in uncomfortable conversations around many types of issues.
Advice for Current Students:
It is alright to not know what your plan is. When I started my senior year, I was applying to PhD programs and assuming I would be in graduate school now. I didn't get into any programs and wasn't able to find a job before graduation. However, I kept my strengths and interests in mind and began to look for jobs outside of research and found a career I am more suited for. Secondly, don't be afraid to connect to professors, faculty, or other professionals in your potential career path. Between graduation and being hired for my current position, I was asking anyone related to my career goals how they began their careers and what kind of work needs to be done to enhance their field. I became comfortable reaching out to professionals through engaging with professors and office hours. I started this career because I asked my Rep what they look for in experts and realized I wanted to be more familiar with the Legislature. You truly never know where you'll find the career you want to pursue!
Advice for Alumni:
The transition from school to working full-time was much different than I thought it would be. While at UMass I had a good organization system and routine, a lot of it did not seamlessly fit into what daily life now requires. The first year out of school, give yourself grace and trust the process. Your new colleagues and coworkers are great resources not just for adjusting to your specific job but for getting different perspectives on how they got to their position and handled the first year out of school.