Project Wonderful

Friday, October 10, 2014

What I Wish I Had Known at 30 With Rachel Goodman

Rachel Goodman,34, Chief of Staff for New York City Councilmember Brad Lander

Rachel gave me my first job as a campaign manager (for the aforementioned Brad Lander.) For those of you interested in going from campaigns to running the show, Rachel is your girl. I am definitely in awe of her ability to balance her jobs plus baby!

1) Tell us a little about your career path.
I actually went to acting school for college, so I like to joke that I barely even have a college degree. But by the time I graduated I realized professional acting was not in my future, and I had always done a little bit of political activism growing up, so when my then-boyfriend, now-husband wanted to move Washington, DC I figured I would go along. I got a job with a political consulting firm, which exposed me to the whole world of campaigns. After a few years there, I “hit the road” and did a whole bunch of different campaigns. Then I ended up back in New York, with the Working Families Party, where I oversaw our efforts on a bunch of different NYC races. One of those races was Brad Lander’s race for a New York City Council seat in Brooklyn, and when he won, I came on as his chief of staff. And I’ve been with him for the last 5 years.

2) What are you most proud of?
Professionally, I am most proud of the effort that Brad and I coordinated in 2013 to elect a bunch of new progressive Councilmembers to the City Council, and elect a progressive Council Speaker. We helped double the Council’s progressive caucus from 10 to 20 members, and elect one of the Caucus co-chairs, Melissa Mark-Viverito, to be the first Latino Speaker. Personally, it is that I am raising a charming almost-two year old, while working full time, and managing (most days) to feel fairly on top of things. Plus, you now, the existence of the charming two year old.

3) What is the best advice you've received?
Enjoy your periods of unemployment. During my time campaigning, I had a lot of in-between-jobs time, and sometimes I was able to use those down periods to travel, read and hang out with friends. And sometimes I spent the whole time refreshing my inbox and freaking out about my next job. I know it is so hard to live with the uncertainty, but once you are back on the campaign trail you will really wish you had made better use of your

4) What is the worst advice you've received?
Even if you are miserable in a job stay at least a year so you don’t burn bridges. Life is way too short to hate what you do, and if you aren’t happy, you should get out, no matter how short a time you have been there. I had one job in my career that I truly hated, and I knew within 6 weeks that I was going to be miserable. But I stayed for 18 months because I didn’t want to burn the professional connection. In retrospect I really regret all the hateful time that I spent there.

5) What lesson are you still trying to learn?
How to stay in one place! I got off the campaign trail because I needed more stability in my life, but I really miss the variety of having a new job every 6 months. It’s been a real adjustment to settle in to one place, and find ways to create new challenges and opportunities for myself.

6) What was the best thing about being in your 20's?
Being responsible only for myself. Even if I wanted to run off and join a presidential campaign, or move to California, or back pack through Asia, I couldn’t because I have people who are counting on me to be home for dinner. When I was younger, I didn’t have that, and so had a lot more professional and personal freedom.

7) What one thing should I absolutely do before I turn 30?
Take a long trip by yourself. It’s not really an age thing, but 30 is as good an occasion as any. When I was younger I took a three week trip to Australia by myself, and it was the best thing I have ever done.

8) What's the best thing about being in your 30's?
I still remember when I was in college one of my teachers talking about turning 30 and saying “it’s such a relief not to be ‘a woman in her 20s anymore.’” That really stuck with me. It is hard to be taken seriously professional as a woman and it helps to not be such a “young woman” anymore. 22 year old men can be “wunderkinds,” but women in their 20s are just seen as flighty.

9) What are you looking forward to?
Oh man. Sleeping past 6am again at some point?

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