By Grace Dunn
As college students who are looking for jobs, networking can be a nerve racking experience. It can feel as if your future career depends on that single conversation. The night before the event we discussed networking tips and tricks as a group; such as, which side to wear your name tag and how to politely leave a conversation. Luckily, the experience was not stressful because we met the alumni in an informal setting. Annie Hayes, a junior political science major, felt “it was easy to start a conversation, and ask them questions to learn more about their experiences.”
Annie had a memorable conversation with Evan Jurkovich last week at the event. Jurkovich graduated from Drake in 2008 with degrees in Journalism and Politics, and is now a minority staff member for the House Committee on Agriculture. Annie enjoyed hearing his take on working in the government and learning about how bipartisan the Agriculture Committee is.A few days later we got the opportunity to visit Evan Jurkovich at the House Agriculture Committee office with two of his colleagues, Matt MacKenzie, and Mike Straz. During this meeting Jurkovich expanded on why the committee is able to be bipartisan. Agriculture can be bipartisan because it doesn’t usually deal with ideological issues, it tends to be regional. Jurkovich mentioned that the minority and majority staff have a lot of communication, and while they don’t always agree, “they have healthy discussion.” It was refreshing to hear about a bipartisan area in government. Over the past week and a half we have heard non stop from the Washington Center and other site visits about how polarized the two parties have become, so it was comforting to hear that bipartisanship isn’t dead. It is alive and well in the House Agriculture Committee.
Along with the day to day description of alum’s jobs, Annie appreciated hearing their career journeys. It was reassuring for her to learn that “the path isn’t linear, most didn’t have a set agenda of what they wanted to do.” While each alum’s story is different, there is one common thread, Drake. Many alums stressed the importance of the Drake Network that exists in Washington D.C. We heard time and time again from the alumni that we can reach out at anytime with questions about their careers or just about living in D.C.
The alumni reception helped us see how Washington is a liveable city. Yes, we have been living in the Washington Center’s apartments for a week and a half, but that is just a snapshot. It was helpful to hear from real D.C. residents about their experiences. We heard stories ranging from the metro and commuting to having to defend yourself occasionally because you went to school in Iowa. (Midwestern Nice isn’t a thing on the East Coast) It was wonderful to hear the alum’s experiences of living in D.C.We are beyond grateful for the amazing Drake alumni in Washington D.C. We would not have been able to go on our site visits without them. They have helped make our trip to D.C. unforgettable.