We sat down with former Division 1 athlete and political professional. Meet Makenzie Jones, Strategic Elements Public Affairs Coordinator. Makenzie works alongside the firm’s public affairs clients managing public policy, grassroots, and grasstops mobilization across the country. You can read our conversation below.
What inspired your interest in politics?
Growing up, I was never aware of my parents’ political beliefs or even had much interest in politics. When I got to college, I was surprised by how overly saturated politics were on campus. Politics didn’t pique my interest until I took an elective class and was assigned to write an opinion paper on a political issue. My professor commended me for taking an unpopular stance on the topic. After the assignment, I looked deeper into the issue and found a group on campus, the College Republicans, that allowed me to learn more about political activism. I became involved in local politics, served in several leadership positions for the Iowa College Republicans, and through extensive outreach efforts, grew our university chapter from less than ten members to more than 100.
What is an accomplishment you’re proud of?
I am proud that I was able to graduate on time with two degrees after changing my major multiple times. When I got to college, I was unsure what I wanted to study. Once I chose a major, I quickly discovered that I wasn’t interested in it. My friends, advisors, and professors told me “stick it out,” even though it didn’t feel right. Instead, I followed my heart and chose to study what I loved. I am lucky to have an amazing job in the field I studied and will always be proud of my choice to follow my passion.
What lessons did you learn as a Division 1 athlete?
Being a college athlete meant always having a jam-packed schedule filled with practice, studying, and classes. Despite the challenges, I learned how to prioritize my day and ensure that I was completing tasks on time. Most importantly, I learned to maintain a healthy work-life balance by getting work done at a comfortable pace and never letting myself fall behind. Timeliness is a lesson and habit I continue to keep in my career by prioritizing more difficult and time-consuming tasks. That way, by the end of the day, all I have left is tying up loose ends.
Who is your role model?
I have always idolized my mom; she’s the coolest person ever. She has been a strong support system for me and instilled values that I will take with me forever. If I had to pick a famous person, I would pick Jordan Peterson. He is a psychologist, author, and media personality with years of experience studying human behavior. I have become a loyal listener of his interviews and have gained knowledge about his philosophy on life, social issues, and current events.
What drew you to work at Strategic Elements?
When I first learned about Strategic Elements, I had never heard of anything quite like it. The company allows me to work with some of the top leaders in the public affairs industry every day, which I never thought I could do straight out of college. I love working alongside my team while also being able to learn from their diverse experience along the way. I get to do something new every week and constantly gain new knowledge about the industry. At Strategic Elements, you never stop learning, which is an important value to me.
What skill do you think everyone should learn?
Routines are a big part of my personal philosophy, and I believe everyone should have some sort of routine at the beginning of their day. I always start my day by making my bed first thing in the morning. My mother instilled the habit in me years ago and I still follow it to this day. Having a neat-looking space has been proven to reduce stress and is a pleasant way to start my day. How do you expect to accomplish the big things during the day when you can’t do the small things?
What is essential to your work-from-home setup?
I cannot work without sunlight. As I set my workspace up for the day, I like to open the blinds and let the sunshine in. Plus, a productive podcast or playlist never hurts.