The First Steps on The Right Career Path

ld3editedA few years ago UCF came out with the slogan “UCF Stands for Opportunity,” and Lauren Doney, ’11, credits her career success from the many unique opportunities UCF offers its students. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in political science and pre-law, UCF provided her with two years of internship and real-world work experience that gave her a competitive edge over other recent graduates, which ultimately landed her a job shortly after graduation.

Doney explained that one of the most valuable aspects of her UCF education was being able to participate in multiple internship opportunities. She completed three to eight internship credits every semester during her last two years at UCF.  In addition, she also appreciates the opportunity to be involved with the UCF College Democrats as a student.

“The UCF College Democrats were (and continue to be) an incredible resource for local campaigns and community organizations. I keep in touch with the people I met through College Democrats, and they’re all doing incredible things now, locally and nationally.”

Her best UCF memory is when she decided to switch her major from journalism to political science. She says that memory sticks out in her mind the most because it was exciting for her to realize what she really wanted to do in life and it meant that she was taking the first steps in the right career path for her.

Doney is currently in her second year of part-time law school and serves  as the legislative and press assistant for Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-09) out of his Washington, D.C. office.  In her role, she handles legislative issue areas such as healthcare, transportation/infrastructure, labor, agriculture, women’s issues, foreign affairs and telecom. On the press side, she handles things like press inquiries scheduling interviews, drafting press releases and developing online content.

She ended up with Congressman Grayson’s office in D.C. because she had worked with him previously, first in his district office as an intern and later when she served as the finance director during his 2010 campaign.

“It was a blast. The hours were insane and as a result, the whole staff became a family. It was the most supportive work environment I’ve ever experienced. Everyone was on the same team and really wanted you to do well. I remember saying at that time, I’m 21 and this is the best job I’m probably ever going to have in my entire life.”

After Congressman Grayson lost his campaign she kept in close contact with the staff, but never thought she would get the opportunity to work with them again until Congressman Grayson won in 2012. At that time, most of Grayson’s staff came back to work for him, Doney included.

“You don’t get a ton of second chances in life, especially not in politics, yet here we are. I think we all have a really unique perspective as a result.”

The UCF Creed is integrity, scholarship, community, creativity, and excellence. Doney says, “All of these principles are important, but I think “community” is really valuable to me personally. UCF is one of the nation’s largest schools, but our community is extremely tight-knit and supportive. “

When Doney was asked what advice she would give to current students as well as alumni she said, “Take advantage of the unique opportunities available to you as a UCF student. The political science department offers flexibility with internships and online classes, freeing up your schedule to work on campaigns, in state and local government offices, or at law firms. That is not possible for a lot of other students working on the same degree at different state schools. Because of the growing political importance of the I-4 corridor, UCF students have incredible opportunities to get involved.  To alumni, my advice is simple: pay it back. That’s my goal. I hope to one day serve as a mentor and help other UCF students succeed.”


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