A decade after graduating from the University of Maryland, Gregory Jennings returned to campus to talk with the UMD College Democrats about how to break into politics.
Jennings, who is running for Howard County Council, sat on a desk in a Tydings Hall Tuesday night and spoke to each student in the room about how to secure political internships and network with those in the field.
“If you’re here, you are probably a political junkie,” said Jennings, an assistant state’s attorney at the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office. “Getting in the door is easier if you know somebody who’s there.”
Jennings has worked as the chief of staff for Maryland Sen. Victor Ramirez, legislative director for Maryland Del. Samuel Rosenberg and as an intern for Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer.
Jennings told the students to make sure they work for a candidate who excites them.
“It should be for a candidate that you’re passionate about,” he said. “Somebody that you feel cares about the issue you care about.”
He warned students that they will be expected to take part in stereotypically millennial work, such as helping out with Twitter and Facebook.
“Don’t run away from that skill,” Jennings said. “It doesn’t matter if deep down in your soul you long for typewriters and simpler times.”
UMD College Democrats President Jake Polce said Jennings’ discussion was great for members who are looking for insights into how to enter the world of politics.
Polce said the club has seen an increase in interest since President Donald Trump was elected. Across the country, experts have reported that more people are interested in running for political office since Trump’s upset victory.
“Our members are fired up and ready to get to work,” Polce said.
For sophomore Chris Richter, finance and government and politics major and the treasurer of UMD College Democrats, it was exciting to have Jennings as a speaker.
“He seems to have a unique perspective on things,” said Richter, “He was in the White House, he has run successful campaigns and now he’s running himself. He had the full spectrum of being involved in the political process.”
Jennings, now campaigning in Howard County’s District 3, said he’s focusing on issues of economic revitalization.
He said he wants to promote development in rural areas and help elderly community members keep their homes.
“It is where I live, where I have a house, where my wife and I want to raise children,” Jennings said, “I care very deeply about the community.”