Trent Speaks on Working in DC
Feb 22, 2013
Last night, Union Alum Josh Trent spoke to students about living and working in Washington, DC in an event sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Honors Community. Trent graduated from Union in 2001 after serving as President of the Student Government Association. Since Josh left, he worked at the Labor Department, the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services, and earned a MA at the University of Bathd on a Rotary International Scholarship. For the past four years, Trent has served as the Health Care Legislative Assistant (or policy advisor) for Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).
In his talk, Trent told the students the five lessons he has learned working in Washington. First, there's no substitute for hard work. While this is an obvious lesson, it is one that most don't follow. Yet if you work hard, you stand out from most people and are able to advance.
Second, people are primary and relationships are a priority. Washington is a place where people will use you to advance their goals and treat you based on who you are and how you might be able to help them. Consequently, he has learned to treat everyone with equanimity because that is what Christ expects. If you do this, you are able to build relationships which allows you to advance. Practically every job that he has got in DC is a result of a relationship that he has built.
This connects to his third lesson which is humility is essential. The easiest way to get in trouble in DC is letting your pride guide your actions as he talked about three Christians who let their pride lead them to a downfall. Being humble is also important because the person who works with you now might be your boss later. The better you treat someone, the more likely they will treat you well.
Fourth, it is good to have godly ambitions. Many Christians look poorly on ambitions but an ambition to do something that serves God and humanity is positive. Many people in DC are just concerned about advancing themselves but the most effective people are the ones who put their ambition to a higher cause.
Finally, he told students to be a life-long learner. He said that each job he had required a large learning curve and that he has to work hard to meet the expectations. Moreover, he has had five jobs in 10 years which means that you have to be adaptable and be willing to continue to learn to be effective. As a health care analyst, he must always learn more to provide the best advice to Senators and in his attempts to influence the policy debates.