Starting Summer With A BANG!

The third annual Liberty and Access Labs started off with a bang!   This summer, thousands interns and students from all over the country flooded Washington, DC in hopes of hearing from political and social leaders on how to navigate a career in Washington, DC. Almost 400 of these interns attended our labs and heard from notable speakers and leaders.  Politics took center stage as 2016 proved to be an exciting election year.


“You have to be comfortable with awkward situations and to always remain calm and professional%22

Jazz Lewis, Campaign Director- Steny Hoyer

Get a Congressman Elected

Liberty and Access For All (L+A) kicked off its lab series on June 2nd with its first lab, “How To Get A Job on a Congressional Campaign”. Students and interns from over 40 states attended  eager to learn the steps necessary to begin the process of working a congressional campaign.  Our speakers Jazz Lewis and Stacie Rumenap shared their personal stories and experiences on congressional campaigns. Both speakers explained the different positions held at congressional campaigns and advised students to hone their interpersonal, communication and writing skills.  

Despite being on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, both speakers  advised our participants to be organized, dedicated and to remember that no task is too small or unimportant.

Towards the end of the lab, students had a chance to ask frank questions on how to deal with racism and sexism while working on a congressional campaign.  Lewis, an African American man and Ruemenap, a woman advised students on how to deal with difficult situations .  “You have to be comfortable with awkward situations and to always remain calm and professional”  said Ruemnap.”  Lewis counseled students on making the best out of working on a congressional campaign and getting the experience that they want.  “Let people know ahead of time your expectations, your terms and what position you should hold.”


“no task is too small. You will be recognized for your work.”

Tom Manatos – Government Relations VP Spotify

%22 You got to be willing to do what it takes and work hard. You will work long hours and it will be one of the most amazing experiences of your life%22

Bernard C. Coleman III, who currently leads Hillary for America’s (HFA) Diversity and Human Resources initiatives

So You Want To Be A Staffer On Capitol Hill

 L+A  hosted its second summer lab titled  “How to Get a Job on the Hill” at the Population Institute with one of DC’s leading gurus  Tom Manatos. Manatos explored with the students the hidden tactics  on how to find a job in Washington, DC. The lab was a massive success as it  drew participants from diverse ethnic backgrounds. We had interns and young professionals from  the Senate, the House and the US State Department.  We also had current and graduate students from Universities in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Alabama, New Jersey, West Virginia, New York, California, South Carolina, Nebraska, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Texas, Kentucky, Oregon and Utah. It was a full house with several participants standing and some seated on the steps eager to hear from The Manatos List founder, Tom Manatos.

Manatos brought extensive experience as the current Government Relations for Spotify as well as his background working on the Hill for former Speaker of the House  Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman. The session was informative as it tackled the hidden ways one can stand out when finding a job in Washington DC. Manatos emphasized that while having a nice resume with a great GPA is important, those looking for jobs should not heavily rely on what’s on paper.  He urged participants to focus on networking as the key to navigating a career in a competitive city like Washington DC. He elaborated that participants  should focus heavily on cultivating relationships from their targeted networks.  Manatos also urged participants to present themselves as people with great work ethic as he said  “no task is too small. You will be recognized for your work.”  He also encouraged participants to “clean up” their social media as this can be a deciding factor in choosing the best candidate for the job.

Mr. Manatos’ down to earth personality sprinkled with charm kept the summer lab exciting and fun. His experience working in Government Relations on the Hill was invaluable to participants. One participant described the lab as “a solid starter seminar for people who are new to the scene”. Others thought that the lab was beyond  their expectations as it gave them “Inside information” on how to navigate a career in Washington DC.


Increase in attendance

Elect the Next Leader of the Free World

On June 15th 2016, Liberty and Access for All  held its third summer lab titled “How to Get a Job on a Presidential Campaign” at the United Methodist Building. As usual many interns,  current, and graduate students  flocked the Methodist Building eager to hear from two speakers from the republican and democratic presidential campaigns. Participants heard from Bernard C. Coleman III, who currently leads Hillary for America’s (HFA) Diversity and Human Resources initiatives, including the campaign’s diversity, inclusion and equity efforts. Coleman was the Director of Human Resources at the DNC. Participants also heard from Suhail Khan,  who is the External Affairs at Microsoft Corporation. He’s also a member of the Conservative Action Project and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement.  Khan Worked on Reagan, George H. Bush and George W. Bush Election Campaigns. Both speakers brought invaluable information on how to navigate a career  working on a presidential campaign.

The speakers drew out the basic structure of a presidential campaign and later delved into the inner workings of the campaign.  Both speakers tackled the elephant in the room- “experience.”  With participants some ranging from ages 18-30, many worried that they may not be qualified to join a presidential campaign, however, Khan urged them  to “never say no to yourself” and also confirmed that “now is the right time” to join a presidential campaign. With the rise of technology resources like, social media and networking events, Khan said that joining a presidential campaign has gotten “much easier.” He said that one can easily become a volunteer and depending on their skill set, they can work themselves up into a presidential campaign.  Coleman added,  “no work is too small” from phone banking to working as a communication assistant. Coleman also said that both republican and democrat presidential campaigns offer free training depending on one’s interest and skills. They offer trainings in media, legal, surrogate, communication and etc. Both speakers echoed the importance of every position in running a successful campaign and participants should not shy away from small or even big tasks.

Both speakers emphasized the importance of forming and maintaining bonds while on a presidential campaign as this can lead to an unforeseen job opportunity on another political campaign.  Khan said “Winning or losing, keep in touch” and Coleman said “ knowing people and having personal relationships will be more important than anything on your resume.” Lastly, Khan warned the participants they’re bound to face ups and downs while working on a presidential campaign, but they should remember to “be true to yourself” and “be true to your core values.” Both speakers collected resumes from our students.  One participant commented that “This is the only event that I had a real chance to get access to a speaker much less give my resume” 


Google Yourself as the Next Lobbyist

The final lab in June was hosted by our longtime partner Google. Thanks to our Business Advisory Council member and longtime supporter Lee Dunn. The lab was titled “How to Get a Job in Government Relations”. Needless to say, the event was a great success. Our speakers, Jona Van Deun , Coalition Director at Koch Industries and Lee Dunn, Government Relations Directors at Google, shared their personal stories and their career journeys. The speaker gave insight and advice on; family work balance, sexism in the work place and negotiating for positions and work. “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want” said Van Deun .  Both speakers emphasized writing and critical thinking skills that are needed for the job. “ Most of what you will be doing is analysis and writing policy so it is important to hone your writing skills,” advised Dunn .  Both speakers encouraged participants to stay flexible “ Don’t put yourself in one bucket, you never know what job you can be offered.”  Our students where grateful that the speakers gave their contact information. 

“ Most of what you will be doing is analysis and writing policy so it is important to hone your writing skills,”

Lee Dun Government Relations Director Google Inc

Get America Registered to Vote

The fifth lab of the summer was moderated by our late board of advisors member Joe Montano, on “How to get a Job Doing Nonpartisan Voter outreach.” As a veteran campaign professional,  Montano did an amazing job engaging our audience!  The event included speakers from APIA Vote and Voto Latino. These are the largest ethnic voter outreach organizations in the country.  We were so glad to have Maria Urbana and Christine Chen speak.  The speakers were able to share their experience and their passion doing voter registration. They shared their experiences working nationally as well as on the state level. Urbana  spoke on how the voter registration landscape is  rapidly rapidly and how technology is helping on the ground. “Voto Latino is launching a new app that will allow the next generation of voters to easily register to vote.”

Chen explained that most of the work is not done nationally but in several states. “ We tend to hire local candidates to do the work . So if we would hire you, we would most likely place you in your home state” . Both speakers advised our students to be patient with the work . “ The hours are long and the budget is always tight. Funders tend to disperse funds late.” Said Chen .

“never say no to yourself”

Suhail Khan – External Affairs at Microsoft Corporation and RNC Consultant

Travel The World And Serve Your Country

The last lab of the summer was  “How to Get a Job at the Department of State- Working in Foreign Service.” We were lucky to get Mr. Ronald Robinson to return this year.  The Lab was hosted by a new potential partner Nelson Mullin. Nelson Mullin is a large international law and government relations firm. They generously donated space and beverages to our students.  This was one of our most successful and popular labs. Robinson methodically grew through the steps to becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). He explained and shared the resources available to students .  “There is a job for everyone in foreign services and it is very family friendly” he said. Robinson shared that 17,000 people take the written exam  and only 1000 go on to take the oral exam and only 25-30 people  are accepted into the program.  Robinson also shared his adventures as an FSO. He recalled the times he served  under  two coups in countries in Africa and Asia while visiting American prisoners abroad.  Students were so excited by our speaker that they asked to be photographed with him!

%22 Ladies Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want”

Jona Van Deun Coalition Director Koch Industries