In my capacity as student government president, I sat on the College Alumni Association board as an ex officio member. I was wrapping up my second term when they rolled out Drew Connect. I had never thought about working in state politics.
I connected with Cathy Brennan C’86, who was then working in the Office of Legislative Services. She said, “Come on down [to Trenton]. I’d be happy to host you for the day.” We had a nice chat about what it’s like to work in state government. She suggested I connect with Christine Shipley, the executive director of the Senate Republican Office, with whom I ended up working. She also sent my résumé to Christine.
In late February I got a phone call: “Do you want to come in for an interview?” It’s pretty rare in politics that you’re offered a full-time position before you graduate.
I worked in the Senate Republican Office as a research associate through March of this year. I was the Republican staffer for the Higher Education, Community and Urban Affairs, and Military and Veterans’ Affairs committees, as well as the Republican lead on maternal mortality prevention policy. Now I’m an associate at Winning Strategies Washington, a government relations firm in downtown D.C.
I never would have gotten my foot in the door without Cathy’s help. She didn’t know me from Adam. I basically cold-called her—“Would you mind helping me out?”—and she, without question, reached out. She also provided assistance and insight on what it was like working in state government, and we kept in touch while I worked in the State House.
I’m very grateful for her mentorship. She took me on without knowing me, because she trusted that Drew would produce a good enough student, and I’ve made a huge effort to do that myself.
I’ve encouraged Drew students to apply for our summer internship program. I’m hopeful we’re going to hire some Drew interns, which is going to be incredible. I consider it almost my obligation to pay it forward.
Cathy Zbyszynski Brennan C’86 was working as a section chief in the Office of Legislative Services, the nonpartisan research arm of the New Jersey Legislature, when Jared Sutton contacted her via Drew Connect. Today she is New Jersey’s deputy state treasurer.