About the author: Hi, my name is Rebecca. I am originally from Philadelphia, but grew up in El Paso, Texas. I graduated from Lehigh University with an industrial engineering and business degree. I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2014 to work as a Process Improvement Analyst at Williams.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in Oklahoma’s Young Professionals Day at the State Capitol. The day brought together more than 150 young professionals from different professional backgrounds, including 10 from Williams’ Tulsa and Oklahoma City offices.
In the morning, various political figures in met with our group, spoke about Oklahoma key issues coming up for vote, and offered advice on how we can make an in impact. After lunch, we traveled over the state capitol building to watch the presentation and voting of various bills and to meet with our legislatures.
While I represented myself and not Williams at the Capitol, by the end of the day, I realized that, as an individual, I have more influence than I thought. As a recent transplant to Oklahoma from Philadelphia, I also got great insights into how the state conducts business. Trust me, it takes more than adding “ya’ll” to my vocabulary to adapt.
So here were my biggest takeaways from the day. Some may seem like no-brainers but putting them into constant practice can be tough, especially when everything in life gets busy:
- Always Vote – in Oklahoma (the focus on this event), voter turnout of people under age 30 is dismal, and this is a problem across the U.S. Think about the implications – when it’s time to campaign, does that money go toward the people who likely won’t show up at the polls? No, it goes toward the groups that turnout to vote. On a positive note, this is entirely within our control and voting is free – win, win.
- Get to know your local and state representatives – I’m not saying stalk them down and invite them to dinner, anyone can go into a Capitol building and ask to meet with their representative (the House) or senator (the Senate). Their job is to represent their district’s collective point of view when voting on and proposing new legislation. It can be hard to determine right before an election if your candidate did what they promised and represented you well—a lot happens between elections. Let’s keep them accountable.
- Check the facts – when it comes to talking about proposed legislation, facts are often strategically included or left out to help paint a specific picture, not necessarily the full picture, so don’t take everything at face value. Trust but verify the facts so you can get the full story and make your own decision on the issues important to you. Plus, all the proposed bills are available online—there’s even an app for that.
Legislative decisions impact how individuals live their lives, how employers like Williams are part of communities across the country, and how Williams conducts business in all the locations where we operate.
I believe that being informed on the political and economic climate makes me a better employee by helping me to understand the bigger picture and I appreciate that Williams wants its professionals to be informed and involved in the political process. This was a great learning opportunity I’ll carry forward in my career.