When Rachel Boyer graduated from Concordia in 2011, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her history degree. So, as a graduation gift, her sister offered her six months rent-free living with her in Washington, D.C., and a chance to figure it out. As the politics nerd she is, Boyer went in a heartbeat.
In the five years since, she has worked on Capitol Hill, moved across the country (and back), and even snagged a selfie with a presidential candidate. Today, she serves as communications director for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. And even after all of her travels and meeting politicians, the most exciting thing for Boyer has been coming home.
“In all of my time away from Minnesota, all I wanted to do was come back,” she says.
Shortly after moving to D.C., Boyer landed a communications internship in the office of Sen. Al Franken. She helped develop press releases and briefing memos and produced video messages for both state and national organizations. Every Wednesday, Boyer got to sit in with the senator himself as he held phone calls with radio stations across the country.
“It was really cool stuff, being fresh out of college and having no idea what you’re going to do with your life and you end up working on Capitol Hill for one of the coolest senators ever,” she says.
After six months, just in time for the 2012 election season, Boyer was ready to return to Minnesota. Through a Cobber connection, she ended up working as a community organizer for Rep. Keith Ellison in Minneapolis. But before long, Ellison asked Boyer to serve as his staff assistant and it was back to D.C.
Boyer worked as Ellison’s staff assistant for close to a year before moving on to the role of press secretary. She led local media outreach efforts, drafted press materials, and managed congressman Ellison’s social media, photography, and video activity.
Less than a year later, Boyer was ready for another change of scenery: Austin, Texas.
As press secretary for the Texas Democratic Party, Boyer managed the party’s communications strategy and served as an official spokesperson. She was also responsible for creating and implementing media outreach programs for African-American and LGBTQ communities.
Boyer decided that she wanted to try her hand at working with an issue-based, rather than candidate-based, nonprofit, so back to D.C. she went to serve as the communications and media outreach associate for NARAL Pro-Choice America.
When Boyer saw an opening for the director of communications position at the Minnesota DFL, she knew that it was her chance to get back to Minnesota for good. She spoke to everyone she could get in contact with, sent her resume to every friend and family member who would read it, and wrote six cover letters before settling on one that felt right. Her hard work paid off, and Boyer returned to Minneapolis-St. Paul.
“I’ve been here for a little over a year now and every morning I wake up and I think, ‘Wow, this is my job. This is so cool,’” she says. “It was four years of wandering and kind of homesickness, and now I feel at home.”
As communications director, Boyer is responsible for managing the party’s public presence in both social and traditional media. She helps organize press conferences and travels around the state doing media tours. Every day is something new, Boyer says, and she is often responsible for managing a million things at once – a skill she learned in her time at Concordia.
“My senior year, I was juggling student government with choir, with classes, with figuring out what the heck I’m going to do after graduation, with making sure I was going to graduate,” she says. “Juggling all of those things has helped prepare me for working in politics, and just going into the workforce in general. … There’s not going to be a day where you can call in sick and not miss something.”
Oh, and about that selfie?
It was at the 2016 Humphrey-Mondale Dinner, an annual event held by the Minnesota DFL. The year’s special guests were former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Boyer was responsible for managing the 100-some members of the press in attendance and as Secretary Clinton walked down a line shaking hands and taking selfies, Boyer happened to be in the right place at the right time.
“I’m kind of still in awe of how that happened,” Boyer says.
For Boyer, it took four years, half a dozen jobs, and a whole lot of self-reflection to figure out where she really needed to be – and she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had stayed in one place,” she says. “I left really good, comfortable positions, but I knew that, for me, I had to challenge myself and go outside my box, go outside my comfort zone.”
Katie Beedy '18 is a communication studies and multimedia journalism double major.