In March 2021, we asked Marielle Trumbauer, a University of Washington Honors alum who graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a minor in political science, to share her journey from being a student at the Jackson School to her current role as Outreach Coordinator for U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Trumbauer, who grew up in Seattle, has spent nearly two years working in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate since she graduated from the Jackson School.
What are some of your favorite memories of being a student at the Jackson School?
Marielle Trumbauer: The Jackson School was where I found my passion for governance and global affairs. Some of my favorite memories from my time at the Jackson School stem from my involvement in the Jackson School Honors Program. I had the opportunity to conduct qualitative field research in New York City and the Dominican Republic for my thesis “Motivations Driving the Differentiated Electoral Behavior of the Dominican Diaspora in New York during the 2012 and 2016 Dominican Presidential Elections”. My adviser, Jackson School Professor Robert Pekkanen, taught me how to analyze and draw conclusions from my data. Completing and successfully defending my thesis is still one of my proudest moments.
Can you tell us a little bit about what your role or work entails?
M.T.: In my current position, I serve as a liaison to local, state, and federal officials and other stakeholders throughout the 7th Congressional District on behalf of Representative Pramila Jayapal. I also help local organizations and entities navigate federal funding through our grants program. The scope of my work includes 16 portfolios, ranging from transportation and infrastructure to suburban cities to voting rights. I also cover the education and foreign affairs portfolios, so I have had the opportunity to continue work with the Jackson School in my professional capacity.
Did you always know you wanted to work in government?
M.T.: When I began my undergraduate degree, I wanted to work in international business. I spent my first year of college at Trinity College Dublin studying business and Spanish. I then transferred to the University of Washington during my sophomore year and continued to study business. In 2016, I took a quarter off of school to work on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Florida and Foster Campbell’s U.S. Senate campaign in Louisiana. After the campaigns, I changed my major to International Studies because I realized that I wanted to spend my career enacting systemic changes to help improve people’s lives at home and across the world.
How do you think the Jackson School helped you advance in your career?
M.T.: The Jackson School experience was an essential foundation for my career. The diversity of experiences and knowledge of the faculty helped me see the world from an array of perspectives that reshaped my understanding of foreign affairs. After graduation, I worked as an immigration caseworker for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. My academic background in international studies and the analytical skills that I learned at the Jackson School were immensely important tools for success in that role. It also inspired me to continue my journey in higher education. I am currently pursuing my Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Public Policy through the University of Southern California.
What other meaningful opportunities did you undertake while at the Jackson School?
M.T.: During my time at the Jackson School, I served as the president of the Jackson School Student Association (JSSA). In this capacity, I worked with JSSA officers to provide Jackson School students with career advancement and programmatic opportunities, such as informational and discussion panels with former ambassadors, UN advisors, and White House officials—many of whom were incredible Jackson School faculty! We also spearheaded advocacy and fundraising efforts to support fellow students.
Though I did not partake in an official study abroad program while at the Jackson School, I did complete an internship in the consular and political sections of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo for academic internship credit. While there, I was able to immerse myself in the thesis writing process and craft detailed reports on my work at the Embassy.
What advice would you give students interested in working for the federal government?
M.T.: I would advise any student interested in working for the federal government to find their “why.” Understanding what drives your passion is integral to success in any field, but it is particularly vital in public sector work. I would also encourage students to take time to connect with their professors and advisers. Their extensive experiences, insights, and mentorship are invaluable resources.
Why would the Jackson School be a good fit for students interested in a global career?
M.T.: The Jackson School faculty strives to increase opportunities for every student. Task Force is a prime example of the Jackson School’s work to expose students to pressing global issues, connect students with subject matter experts, and help students develop problem-solving and research skills that are directly applicable to the professional world. My studies and experiences at the Jackson School laid the groundwork for my professional endeavors.