Shop Talk: Jordan Kennedy

Alumni Jordan Kennedy spoke at Shop Talk last Friday, March 18th, in the Art Gallery Lobby.

By: Sarah Williams

The photo of Jordan Kennedy was provided by the Shop Talk poster.

Alumni Jordan Kennedy spoke at Shop Talk last Friday, March 18th, in the Art Gallery Lobby. Students and professors listened as she described her experience of graduating from college to landing her career as the Manager of Communication and Community Outreach for the Division of Victim Services at Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In the last ten years Kennedy has:

  • Worked in the State of Michigan Governor’s Communication Office.
  • Been named Deputy Press Secretary for both Governor Rick Snyder and the First Lady.
  • Traveled with the Governor to handle Media Relation events throughout the state.
  • Served as Communication Lead for several of the administration’s key projects relating to agriculture, transportation, and rural economic development.

Kennedy’s Advice:

  • “It is really important when you get the internship or job to not be the person who asks the question that could be googled. Being an intern or hiring intern, be someone who is a self-initiator and problem solver.”
  • “Take every opportunity you have to pursue what you’re interested in.”
  • “Find what you are good at, leverage what you are good at, and use what you are good at to the point where people notice you are not there because they need you.”
  • Utilize YouTube, LinkedIn Learning, and other media sites; and teach yourself skills.
  • If you have the means and abilities and a job that provides health insurance, take time for yourself and visit a therapist. Kennedy says she has been visiting a therapist once a month for years and she regrets not doing it sooner.
  • Shadowing and internships are important because they provide experience that could change someone’s mind about their dream career.

Kennedy’s Story

Kennedy after the event. The round pin on her suit is her seal pin and it helps security separate the worker from the crowd at events.

Kennedy didn’t know what she wanted to do as an undergraduate. Her first idea was to be a wedding planner and then she wanted to be a journalist. After shadowing a journalist in the field, she decided against it. She became interested in politics.

She described herself as recluse and quiet, but that changed when she was recommended to join the Women and Leadership Conference. She helped with advertising, designing posters, and participated in sections at a conference. She noticed a woman who worked for the Governor’s office there.

“That sounds so cool. I should go and talk to her,” Kennedy told her friends. “I am going to ask for an internship.”

She introduced herself, explained her interest in politics, and asked for an internship. She was connected with one, graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Advertising and Public Relations, and “the rest was history.”

Kennedy thought she was getting an internship in the Communication Office, but she was actually going into Constituents Relations. She described Constituents Relations as a fancy way of saying customer service for the State of Michigan. She handled many complaints about what the Governor signed or vetoed and misdirected complaints meant for other departments. She took on extra responsibilities, like writing letters and “earned her stripes” at the office.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people wanted letters from the Governor for their grandmother’s 80th birthday,” Kennedy said. 

After two semesters, she was hired full-time as a Legislative Tribute Editor and Writer. She took every tribute every lawmaker drafted. She would read and edit them and decide whether the Governor should sign them or not.

“I knew my strengths,” Kennedy said. “I knew I was good at writing. I knew I was good at copyediting. I knew I could find a way to leverage my skills to be really useful to them in the small little square of the Executive Office.”

After a couple of years, the Governor had to run again for office and Kennedy volunteered for his re-election campaign. She made many connections and was recommended to work in the Communication Office as well.

She learned how to be assertive when saying “no more questions” at press conferences. She worked with reporters and was interviewed by news stations and radio broadcasters.

She was also asked to work with the First Lady. She hosted large statewide events and created content for Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Survivor, and Campus Sexual Assault Awareness. She found her passion for being a Public Servant and she wanted to make policies that benefited people.

She took a job at the Department of Health and Human Services where she is now. She serves as the Manager of Communication and Community Outreach for the Division of Victim Services.

The next Shop Talk and last one for this semester will be held on April 1st and feature current Seniors and their works. It will be held in the Ganton Art Gallery Lobby from 10am to 11. Drinks, food, and games/prizes will be provided.

Comment your thoughts on internships and plans for after graduation!