Meet Jake Brymner, Constituent Services Manager
I chose this career not necessarily at any one decisive turning point moment, but throughout my whole kind of upbringing. I’d been interested in current events and public affairs.
My first memory of politics or government or that kind of thing is going to this campaign rally with my dad and one of his friends that Bill Clinton had back when he was running for reelection in 1996. And I can remember being up on his shoulders watching the event and seeing all the excitement, all these different people coming together. I had no clue what was being discussed, but I can still remember that. Thinking in that way as I was growing up and then being interested in high school and then wanting to get involved and wanting to do something that would have a broader impact than what’s just going to affect myself.
I was lucky to have a lot of opportunities that presented themselves or that I sought out as I was going to college and learning about the political science theory in the classroom and then trying to find ways to see that put into practice off campus. So my first involvement was as a campus organizer with the Barack Obama campaign back in 2008. My job was to try to identify students who were from out of state. And if they were from a swing state try to convince them to re-register back at home. I then, at the next electoral cycle, wanted to get involved at the state level. Jerry Brown was running for his third term as governor, his first one on the second run, and I made a cold call and I found the phone number for his campaign office in Oakland on Third Street and I called there and I said, how can I get involved? Is there an internship opportunity available? And they were kind enough to let me come in, have an interview.
From then I went back to school and was on campus for another year and found out about a fellowship that was offered from the center on campus at Berkeley. And this fellowship basically gave a stipend. It was a stipend to help a student go and get an experience in local government. And after having worked on Governor Brown’s campaign and heard him talk so much about realigning services to different levels of government based on what makes the most sense financially, I thought, you know, there’s going to be a lot of movement in local government over the next decade and I would like to see the beginning of that process.
Over that entire summer I was a full-time fellow helping research ordinances, follow up on constituent services issues when they’re trying to get the crack in the sidewalk fixed. That was my first involvement on the official side and moving away from the campaign side of the political process.
It might be that you start as a volunteer. And you might not even have the intern title. But if that means that you’re meeting people on the campaign, you’re seeing the kind of work that they do every day and you’re learning whether that makes sense for you or it really is something you’re interested in, that’s going to be a very valuable experience in and of itself. But you’re also going to develop that network of contacts and friends. Eventually they’re going to become your friends and they’re going to think of you when opportunities come up. You’re going to think of them when you want someone that you can spitball with and kind of discuss what options are out there.
I can directly attribute where I am today with the fact that I had the opportunity to meet the director of the Matsui Center that I had worked previously with someone that was on Congressman Swalwell’s campaign staff. And I believe that my resume qualified me for the position, but I wouldn’t have heard about it without being at the right place at the right time. And if you get involved in things out of school or off campus, you’re going to just expand those opportunities that are presented your way and you’re just going to hear about more of those kind of job openings or internship opportunities than you would if you were just solely focused on what’s happening in the classroom.
The best parts of this job is that there’s something new every day and it can feel like a moving target. Or the other analogy you hear very often is that you’re drinking from the fire hose. But that’s what makes it really engaging and so that every day you come in fresh and kind of ready to learn something new. There’s never been a day where I haven’t learned something.