Carolina Salazar- Herrera, District Director, State Assemblymember Bill Quirk
I started working the political world actually at a very young age. I was around 12 when I started working on my first campaign- I live in a really small city which had a growing population and I was dealing with a lot of issues around youth violence and like sort of criminalization of young people. And so I joined forces with the local Youth Empowerment Group who were doing some campaign work to build a youth center and a skate park. We were ultimately successful in getting the skatepark but weren’t able to get the youth center. So it kind of was my first foray into how the political process works how to be a part of government. Through that work I ended up actually going to Sacramento, to the state capitol quite a bit so from the time, when I was in Middle School through high school and in high school I was at one of the many protests in the state capital to try to do actually decriminalize driving while black or brown. And I remember looking up at the state capitol window and there were people in there looking down at us and I just thought “why am i here protestesting? I should be in there actually making some of these laws!” So I went and I talk to absolutely everyone who would talk to me about whatever works in politics at the capital both in at the state level in Washington DC and the common thread was that the best thing to do would be to study policy or public policy.
So I went on to study that and sort of long story short. that’s kind of how I ended up here. So I was able to graduate a year early, I went and I got I got accepted into Palanca Fellowship through the Hispanic Latino caucus Institute in Sacramento. That Fellowship does not exist but we still have a senate and assembly fellowship and so that’s for recent graduates for California residents who are interested in working the state capital. I was in Sacramento and the capital, I felt, was a little insular. You were working very much on policy, so I was practicing exactly what I studies, right! But it felt very I wasn’t working with the community as much it was very removed and so I had actually, through my work back in high school, worked with my local state senator in the area where I had grown up and got to know his staff really well. This is something I would highly recommend: you to get to know people at a very young age that are doing what you want to do in the long term, because guess what! They remember you and they will call you when you grow up and they have (job) openings or position. so what I would recommend to all young people is in turn do as many different jobs as you can because just as important as knowing what you want to do is knowing what you don’t want to do. This in turn teaches you sort of how to be a good boss. Having Bad Bosses is how you learn to be a good boss. Having a bad job is how you learn to recognize what a good job is. And then in addition to that I think the one thing I tell all of our interns and all of the people who ever want to talk to me about how do I get into politics, you know how do I get a job like yours, what do I study, what do I do. My advice is do informational interviews! They are the number one successful thing I can recommend. And people love talking about themselves and they love helping young people. So I ended up calling all of these people out of the blue. Some of them I interviewed them I asked them how did you get here what did you want to do I give them a copy of my resume I asked them if they had any suggestions about what I could do to get into that career field. I also asked them what they love them but they didn’t love about their job because people are really honest with you on one-on-one basis and it will give you an idea about are those things that I would really want to be doing in the long-term, are they perhaps, you know, something maybe that’s a different job than I had originally anticipated. I learned a lot about myself through that process I learned a lot about what I didn’t want to be doing when I grow up and ultimately that’s you know I’m taking my resumes with me. I’m going to tell you something I keep my resumes super up-to-date and I get calls all the time from people who are looking for “hey I’m looking for somebody to do this kind of work. Is it is it interesting to do you would you want to apply?”
Be nice to everyone. Network, network, network. Remember, you know, some of your colleagues are going to end up being your boss one day, maybe you’re going to be the boss of somebody you didn’t realize. So just be respectful and courteous and nice to everyone, and work on building bridges, not burning them. It’s really important and I know that sounds like it’s kind of a no-brainer but I think it’s really easy when you’re young and sort of social things and other things get mixed into work because we all work so hard that we spend a lot of time in our work-life. It’s important to just keep that in perspective and remember that, that you know you never know who your next boss is going to be. So don’t hold grudges, move forward and learn from your mistakes !