A Day In The Life Of A Young Democrat Working At The Convention

Photo: courtesy of the DNCC.
Du2019shawna C. Bernard works in press operations for the Democratic National Convention.
Editor's note: We're just days away from the start of the Democratic National Convention, an election-year gathering in which the Democratic Party will select its presidential nominee. Tens of thousands of people, including thousands of delegates and elected officials, will descend on Philadelphia for the four days of action. For months, the DNCC staff, including many young people, have been working behind-the-scenes in Philadelphia to put on the event. Ahead, D’shawna C. Bernard, special assistant for press operations at the Democratic National Convention Committee, shares what it's really like to put on one of the biggest political events of the year.

5:00 a.m. Eyes wide open. I pause to give thanks to my creator for being alive and here. I take a moment to center myself. It's the absolute best way to start any morning. One's inner being is just as important as the outer. 5:30 a.m. Black girl magic activated. 5:35 a.m. Read the morning news. Browse all the #DemsInPhilly social platforms. 5:50 a.m. I check my email! A lot can happen while we are sleeping. Ensuring that things are still, like our CEO Rev. Leah D. Daughtry would say, "On time, on task, and on budget" 6:00 a.m. Text my dedicated gym buddy and pal (Sarah Guy, special assistant to the CEO) and head to CKO kickboxing class. The instructors and their dope playlists definitely help kick-start the day. Sarah is #team. 7:00 a.m. Remind and convince myself of why I went to and need kickboxing, while slowly embracing the aftereffect. 7:30 a.m. Start getting dressed. I pick out my outfits in my head the night before, so it's usually a breeze. Only sometimes.

8:45 a.m. I try not to check emails while walking to the office, but I admit I fail miserably.

8:00 a.m. Call my family. Caribbean-American families are super close-knit, so my "mummy, daddy, and big brother " calls are essential (I was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago). I am also slightly obsessed with my 6-year-old nephew, so I love hearing his voice when I can. 8:15 a.m. Check in with my #foundationfriends. These are the people that keep me grounded, whole, and sane. I make a smoothie, grab a quick bite, and yes, this requires major multi-tasking skills. 8:30 a.m. Start walking to headquarters. Downtown Philadelphia is such a unique space. Even though it’s a big city, it still has a small town feel. I enjoy walking to the office each day and seeing a diverse city alive. There are always folks walking their dogs, doing yoga in the park, and multiple food carts already cranking out some of the best cheesesteaks. 8:45 a.m. I try not to check emails while walking to the office, but, I admit, I fail miserably. 9:00 a.m. Grab my notebook and check in with my boss. I track her to-do list and merge mine. This helps me map out the team goals for the day. She and I both love systems, so we always have great planning sessions before the work of the day begins. 10:00 a.m. Scope the calendar. Review my notes and to-do list from the previous day to ensure nothing slipped through the cracks. 11:00 a.m. Follow-up frenzy. I use this time as a work block to follow up on any pending items, plug in new action items, and chasing down answers from my colleagues in other departments. 12:00 p.m. Attend the Press Operations Team Brown Bag Lunch. Nourishment is key, especially when we are on the move. We each share and discuss what we’re working on. We’re constantly troubleshooting between bites of lunch. 1:00 p.m. Work block. I am responding to our super volunteers, leads, and members of their team who are the core of our operation. Did I mention we have more than 600 volunteers? Yep, we do! They’re helping with everything from transportation and housing for delegates, working with members of the media, and all the other operational needs a national convention may have.

5:00 p.m. I accept that my to-do list has multiplied as expected.

2:00 p.m. I have more than 600 volunteers depending on me for all things “press ops,” including their travel and housing needs — so...yep, still grinding for my team. 3:00 p.m. My “Catch and Pull” hour. I touch base with the team. Catch flags, provide solutions, and pull my boss into a brief update meeting if I need to. 4:00 p.m. Follow-through time! I am very aware that typical business hours are closing in, so I do another inventory of all my emails and growing to-do list. The goal is to make as many calls as I can to everyone I didn't catch earlier in the day. 5:00 p.m. I accept that my to-do list has multiplied as expected. 6:00 p.m. Crunching through my to-do list…still. 7:00 p.m. "Anyone want to grab dinner?" Send a slack message, text, email, or walk over to work friends' desks and assume they are hungry, too. I usually pop over to Danielle Coleman’s desk in the legal department. Dani is a total foodie and we always have good conversations and “five minutes of sisterhood." 7:30 p.m. DNCC magic happens and there is an email to all staff that says, "Food in the kitchen." My heart and stomach are happy. 7:35 p.m. I have a hallway meeting with Grace Lowe from the credentials department. It's usually the first time I see her for the day. She is a great sounding board and strategist. 8:00 p.m. The grind continues...the city of Philadelphia starts preparing to go to sleep, but I don’t. I finally take a breath and start planning for tomorrow, to make this the most inclusive, engaging, and forward-thinking Democratic Convention in history. #demsinphilly. D’shawna C. Bernard is a staff member of the Democratic National Convention Committee. The views expressed here are her own. To find out what it was like to work at the Republican National Convention, check out this staff diary.

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