"Shut up and listen" to Christine Garrison Rodriguez
If you are new to Texas, old to Texas or just looking to land that job in politics, policy or journalism in Texas - you've got to know Christine Garrison Rodriguez, OR at least her website. Christine is the founder of her eponymous job board Christine's List (which I've also added to PINK GRANITE's Resources page).
Christine's list is a website that offers almost daily listings of job announcements from around the state - many of which you'll never find on LinkedIn, Indeed, or Monster (is that still a thing?!). This is because Christine has developed a reputation as being the insider source of political job listings - so much so that employers reach out to her directly to be featured. Job-seekers pay a small fee to access the site, but don't worry it's not crazy expensive at around $40 for an entire year! Plus, she offers free peeks to lure you in.
When I moved to Austin 2 years ago a fellow lobbyist gave me the heads up to Christine's List and I checked it religiously until I landed my current position. I still enjoy checking it out from time to time just to get a sense of who is moving around and what new positions are being created around the Capitol.
Christine has very generously agreed to be one of my very interviews here on PINK GRANITE and I couldn't be more excited to share her professional story, tips and advice for anyone looking to make their own career under the pink dome.
Where do you work?
Where did you grow up?
I'm a native Austinite.
Care to share your political affiliation?
I'm a committed, moderate Democrat.
Where did you attend college and what did you study?
Journalism at UT-Austin.
How did you get your start? Describe your career path for us.
I had worked in newspapers, public affairs and public relations by 2005, when I was searching for my next job. I would often find opportunities that reminded me of this person or that, so I would shoot those links to people I knew around the Capitol or in the media. I kept getting this kind of feedback: "How did you find this opening? I've been looking hard, and I never found this one." I realized that those "computer-assisted reporting skills" from my decade in newspapers (essentially, knowing how to talk to search engines) were finding job openings that many of my friends and colleagues were missing.
So I started a list by email to help everyone out. I figured as long as I was looking, I might as well share what I've found. But there were so little online resources back then for jobs, especially in government, politics and media, that I did it long after I found my own next job. I continued publishing the List without charge until 2011. By then, my subscribers numbered over 2,000 and the project had become quite time-consuming. So I put it all on a website and began charging a nominal fee.
When did you know you wanted to work in politics?
I had promoted to editor during my decade in newspapers, and my last editor job was running a politics and government reporting team in California. That job taught me three things: I hated California, politics was very interesting, and reporters aren't able to grasp even 20 percent of what really goes on inside government agencies. I decided I wanted to know that stuff; to be closer to the process. So I came home to Texas and worked for HillCo Partners.
What is your favorite thing about your current job?
I love the positive energy of helping people with a critical need - employment - and I love working for myself.
Best advice you've ever received?
Shut up and listen - Bill Miller.
Advice you wish you could give your 25-year-old self?
Shut up and listen.
When was the last time you were the only woman in a room during an important meeting?
I suppose it still happens when I sit with my husband's staff while they sift pretty high-level politics and policy. It's great that they include me and utilize my political experience because I do still have the know-how and connections, and I care very much about Rep. Rodriguez's political success. I stopped working political campaigns as a consultant in 2012, but prior to that I was often the only woman at the table.
Any tips for nailing that job interview?
Everything from "dress for the job" to believing your own PR is really important. When I was a manager I several times passed over candidates who didn't dress appropriately or didn't seem to believe they could do the work.
Class acts of those examples were the woman who told me "I can do that" to nearly every task I listed, and the young man who wore a suit "because I really, really want this job and I have four more suits on order from JC Penney." I hired those two.
If you could have dinner with anyone - living or dead, who would it be and why?
Queen Elizabeth I, because she overcame her father's legacy of death and destruction, boldly claimed her birthright and ruled a patriarchy without suffering many fools. I admire her very much.
Favorite spot for a business lunch?
It seems I have a lot of meetings at Cenote.
Favorite Social Media App?
Facebook because of the political news feed and my family's pages.
Last book you read?
Currently reading the Journal of Alexander Chesney (Rev War history).
Favorite political movie/tv show?
There constantly are great political movies churning out, but I supposed my all-time favorite remains All the President's Men. It seems to be pertinent again today.
Ever see yourself running for office?
Hell no. First Lady is close enough.
If you weren't in your current job, you'd definitely be a ___________.
Writer of historical subjects.
What's the last word?
I always recommend to my subscribers in/around the Capitol that they give nonprofits a try. Most of the skills we gain from working in the public sector are desperately needed in the nonprofit sector, and you'll get the added benefit of gratitude for a change!
Huge thanks to Christine for her insights and advice. If you'd like to subscribe to Christine's List, click here. You can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter or join her LinkedIn group. Feeling generous? Help a sister out by sharing this interview with someone you know who's looking for a job in Texas politics, advocacy or information by using the little buttons below.