Colgan gives students career advice

Students interested in a career of politics or government were treated to a free event Monday night, featuring speaker Brian Colgan. He is the current district affairs director for U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, R-13.

This event was part of the Young Alumni Series presented by Institute of Government and Public Affairs, or IGPA, and Illinois Alumni Association Illinois Connection. Colgan discussed his career path thus far and gave advice for budding politicians.

Colgan’s biggest piece of advice was just getting a foot in the door. He explained to the audience how hard it was to get a job in Washington, D.C.

“For the first four months in Washington, I had to bar tend as a means to make money,” he said. “By day, I was going to Kinko’s and printing out my résumé and giving it out to anyone that could possibly give me a job in Congress.”

Colgan also told the audience to take whatever job one can.

“My first job was possibly the worst job on earth,” he said. “As an intern, I had to just enter data on a computer all day long for a candidate. Eventually though, I began to establish connections and was able to move up the ranks.”

He ended his speech by advising that all students begin volunteering for campaigns.

“With the upcoming year being an important one, I suggest you volunteer for as many campaigns as possible,” he said. “Start applying for campaigns right now.”

Colgan graduated from the University in 2003 from the College of ACES. He served as the chief of staff on the Executive Board of the Illinois Student Government General Assembly. Upon graduation, Colgan interned for State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-110, and U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-15. Since then, he has secured full-time employment in Washington, D.C., as Biggert’s district affairs director overseeing all of her legislation.

Jim Maskeri, junior in LAS, said that Colgan is a good example for students who are unsure as to what path to take to achieve their goals.

“Illinois has some spectacular young alumni in the world of government and politics,” he said. “This series features some of these alumni who were once in the exact same position as we are and will show their different paths to success.”

Maskeri said he was excited to feature Colgan as a speaker.

“Colgan is a very successful alumni,” he said. “We’re thrilled that he agreed to come and speak to us.”

Jim Paul, assistant director at the IGPA, said the series was created to help engage students in politics.

“Our goal is to provide an opportunity for students who may be interested in pursuing a career in public service or politics to hear from someone who has done that and is not far removed from their University experiences,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to learn the path that others have taken to their current job and to visit with them about things to watch for and people to know along the way.”