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Alumna and Press Secretary to Governor Bill Lee Encourages Students to ‘Take a Non-Linear Path’

Transferring to Belmont in 2011 after making what she calls the “best decision I ever made,” Laine Arnold went on to discover her passion for politics and public relations as a student. After graduating in 2013, Arnold worked in the communications sphere before getting involved in politics. At a recent convocation event on campus, Arnold shared not only her career history and how it led to her becoming Governor Bill Lee’s press secretary but she also shared some advice with students.

As press secretary to Governor Lee, Arnold deals with a variety of things in her day-to-day work. Her responsibilities include working on Governor Lee’s travel schedule, interacting with the press as well as working with members of his Cabinet. Being involved in all of these different aspects and more has given Arnold the opportunity to “interact with Tennesseans… and to get them to where they want to be.”

One important thing she has learned from her work as press secretary is the benefit of being aware of what you say and how conversations may be used. Her advice to students included being disciplined in what they say, adding that it’s often not necessary to say everything that comes to mind. Being mindful of what you do and say will only be beneficial, especially in the “big small town” of politics, she noted.

When reflecting on her time at Belmont and her career, Arnold noted the importance of having practical knowledge and certain strong transferable skills. For Arnold, her most transferable skill is her writing ability. She noted how this has helped her in all of her positions.

Another point Arnold made to students was to test out different fields and certain career options while in school. “Figure out what you don’t want to do,” she said, adding the benefits of taking a “non-linear path” to a career by trying out different things. Along with this, she also told students that it can be helpful to be realistic about your job and knowing that there are going to be things they may not like about it. “There are going to be a lot of things about your career you won’t like,” Arnold added. “But finding what are the points of joy in your career is important.”

Some of her final advice to students included encouraging them to approach their career being protective of who they are. “Don’t think you have to give your soul over to your career… you are multidimensional,” Arnold said. “Don’t lose sight of remembering ‘how would I be seen outside of work?’ See things for what they are.”

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