Full Name: Juliana Brandao
Class Year: 2017
Major: International Studies and Spanish
Shadowing Visit Site: MA State House
Describe your visit and what did you gain from the experience?
I had the wonderful experience of shadowing Christine Barber, the Massachusetts House Representative for the 34th Middlesex district. During my shadowing experience, I gained insight into Christine’s role as House Representative as well as some of the activities and events that occur within the State House. I attended several caucuses and meetings and had the opportunity to network with other people. The first event that Christine had scheduled was a presentation by the non-profit organization ABCD (Action for Boston Community Development) where I met the Operations Manager and the Deputy Director of Field Operations for ABCD. I have kept in contact with both of them and now have the opportunity to do an informational interview with the Operations Manager of ABCD.
I also attended the Progressive Caucus and the Women’s Caucus, both of which Christine is involved in. The Progressive Caucus was a great experience because I got to observe how the representatives coordinate meetings and speak with one another. They were speaking about topics that particularly interest me, such as health care reform, and it was fascinating to hear how they planned and discussed practical strategies to make sure that the meeting would be efficient and their goals would be heard. During the Women’s Caucus, representatives of different organizations that advocate and support women’s rights presented on their specific organizations, explained what impact their organizations have in communities across Massachusetts, and provided important statistics about women regarding sexual victimization and racism.
I was able to speak with Christine on a more personal level during lunch and in between scheduled meetings and events. I asked her about her career path and how she landed her position as State Representative. I learned about what experiences helped her gain the skills that her position requires her to utilize every day. It was comforting to speak about both of our experiences at Holy Cross since we share this college experience in common. At the very end of the day, she took me on a tour around the State House and I got to see both the House Chamber and Senate Chamber.
Overall, it was a pleasure to meet with Christine and learn about her role as State Representative. I found the experience fulfilling and eye opening. As a female student, it was both empowering and gratifying to shadow a female alumni working for the government and playing an active role in shaping public policy.
How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans/goals?
I gained a networking opportunity to speak with employees of ABCD. I also developed a better idea of what it means to work for the government, and more specifically, the State House. This experience increased my interest in public policy. Christine’s role is relevant to my interests. She works to protect and ensure the rights of her constituents, and she is particularly active in health care, housing, and women’s rights matters. It was wonderful to learn about what bills she is trying to pass and what bills she is trying to resist, especially during a time where there is a lot of political controversy. As a senior, this experience also made me reflect on the kind of work environment that I would like to be a part of, especially as graduation gets closer and closer.
What is some helpful advice your alumni host shared with you?
My alumni host gave me advice to try to enjoy my last semester at Holy Cross and break down my next goals step by step. As an HC alum, she understands the pressure of having to keep up with classes, participate in outside activities, apply to jobs, and have at least some down time. She encouraged me to try new things and not be afraid of getting stuck somewhere that I do not like since these moments can help us grow and realize what we are really interested in. She also mentioned that the Center for Career Development has really developed since she went to Holy Cross, and based on the information that I provided her on my personal experience, she thinks it is a great resource for students. Finally, she stressed the importance of networking because it is necessary for almost any career path that you take.
Why would you recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students?
I would definitely recommend the Alumni Job Shadowing Program to other students. It is both exciting and insightful to experience a part of an alumni’s career and see what they do on a daily basis. With respect to Christine’s role as House Representative, and I am sure this applies to other alumni as well, a lot of her work is relevant to changes that affect society, something I found quite meaningful during the visit. Most importantly, the shadowing program is great practice to put yourself out there and get over the hurdle of being shy or intimidated by the “real world.” Networking is key!