Alumna helps America "Vote Smart"

Laura Hill '11 (right) is a research associate for Project Vote Smart.

December 12, 2011

By Laura M. Hill ’11

I always dreamt my first job out of college would involve the excitement of a big city, and thanks to my Bradley degree, I got that. However, there is an unexpected twist to my urban career story. My first step in the real world would actually begin in Philipsburg, Mont.

There are few similarities between Philipsburg, a secluded mountain town, and one of the most populous cities in the nation, Los Angeles. Very, very few. Yet my career took me to both of these locations within the first four months of the job. Overnight, hiking was substituted for commuting, casual attire for formal business wear, and beautiful mountains for the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles. The shift from rural to urban was perhaps just what I needed to shake up an otherwise routine job.

I am a research associate at Project Vote Smart, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to finding factual, trustworthy, relevant information on over 40,000 candidates and elected officials. While the organization is headquartered in the Montana Rockies, one of the satellite offices is positioned in the heart of Los Angeles. Here, Project Vote Smart works alongside the Political Science Department of the University of Southern California. My typical 8-to-5 day includes student-intern management, filtering through Presidential, congressional, state legislature, gubernatorial, and judicial election information that may be relevant to the Project Vote Smart website and researching presidential and congressional candidates' issue positions.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the position with Project Vote Smart is that I am able to take part in an organization that is making a huge difference in American politics. In an Information age in which a campaign Facebook page or Twitter account might provide the most succinct and direct narrative on a candidate, Project Vote Smart offers a simple way to uncover the facts. With a Presidential election year just around the corner, I am so fortunate to be able to play a role in the nation's leading non-partisan voter education organization.

I would not be here today without the expertise and guidance of my Bradley professors, particularly those in the International Studies and Spanish departments. Their encouragement to succeed academically, to explore internship opportunities, and to study abroad made for an effortless transition from college to the working world, and prepared me for the challenges within the job itself.

From Illinois to Montana to California, I couldn't be more pleased with my post-college adventure, and I know this is only the beginning.