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Alumni Spotlight // Young Alumni

DOWNTOWN GIRL

For event coordinator and young UCSB alum Jenna Raimist '15, life IS a paradeā€¦and a lot of 1st Thursdays

Santa Barbara’s arts and culture scene on State Street comes alive every first Thursday of the month, when businesses and organizations work together to produce special performances and exhibitions to delight locals and visitors alike. The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization organizes 1st Thursdays, as well as the annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade, the LIVE Art & Wine Tour and other local gatherings.

Jenna Raimist

As the events coordinator at the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, Jenna Raimist works every aspect of these popular events, from determining budgets, juggling event details and managing hordes of volunteers.

Despite being a new college graduate, Raimist brings years of leadership experience to her current position. She served as an intern at the UC Santa Barbara Alumni helping organize logistics for the Taste of UCSB at the All Gaucho Reunion and training staff as the Family Vacation Center front desk supervisor.

"I had the pleasure of working with Jenna Raimist while she interned for the UCSB Alumni Association, and I am honored to now call her my friend," said Hattie Husbands, who works as the UCSB Alumni Association program coordinator. "Jenna is an incredible young woman with a level of intelligence and focus that are well beyond her years. Her positive attitude and her remarkable drive made her an invaluable asset to the Alumni Association Programs team, and now to the Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara."

She also worked as vice president of activities the Santa Barbara Hillel in Isla Vista, where she developed engagement opportunities and programs for the local Jewish community. She also served as the chapter president of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.

This summer marks Raimist’s first year in her role at the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization. In this Alumni Spotlight Q&A, this young alumna discusses how all those internship hours paid off - and what it means to be a Gaucho, one year after graduation.

Why did you choose to study at UC Santa Barbara?

I was touring college campuses with my parents back in high school, and while I liked other campuses I visited, something felt different when I visited UCSB. It just felt right; I know that sounds silly, but it's true. As for my major, I actually came in studying something similar to, but different than sociology. I wasn't thriving there and I wasn't truly enjoying it. In my sophomore year, I took Sociology 1 with Professor Victor Rios -- and he drew me in. I've always been a "people person” -- I've always been compassionate and eager to help people. I made the switch to sociology and feminist studies later that quarter.

What was it like for you as a student at UC Santa Barbara? What were some of your biggest challenges?

My student experience was enlightening. I learned more about not only academics, but about life through my classes and my social circles than I ever thought I could -- in just four years.

I loved finding people that grew up similarly to how I did, but I also loved the people that had different experiences than mine, many of whom taught me more than I thought I could learn from someone my own age.

Challenges? Going back to my major switch: it was really difficult. I kind of had an identity crisis my sophomore year when I switched majors and added a minor. I was so conflicted and disappointed in myself for doing so poorly in my first major, but I'm so appreciative that it happened. I wouldn't be who I am now had it not been for that mishap. I couldn't see myself studying anything else now.

What motivated you to work for the UC Santa Barbara Alumni Association as a student? (We miss working with you, by the way)

That's so nice of you all. :)

I actually found the job on GauchoLink -- I needed money (and experience was good too), and I didn't have a car, so working off campus was a no-go. It seemed like a fun gig and something I could be good at due to my past experiences. I interviewed the day I left for spring break during my junior year and heard back just days later.

In all honesty, I think working for the Alumni Association is one of the best jobs a Gaucho can get while in school. It's by far one of the best decisions I made while at UCSB.

Talk to us about your job at the downtown Santa Barbara Organization – it sounds like a lot of fun. How did you leverage your skills and experience to get hired as an events coordinator?

I graduated in June of 2015, and I'm now the events coordinator for the Downtown Santa Barbara organization. I actually got this gig due to my connections at the Alumni Association!

While I was an intern there, I planned Taste of UCSB, my favorite event of the Annual All Gaucho Reunion, which is a festival that highlights Gaucho vintners, brewers, and restaurateurs. Many well-connected and visible community members helped make that event a success. During the post-AGR volunteer appreciation party, I sat down with my supervisor Hattie Husbands at the Alumni Association, and one of those community members (who happens to be her best friend.) We got to talking, she told me to send her my resume, and that was that. Now, I absolutely love my job. (Thank you, Hattie!)

A typical day at Downtown Santa Barbara varies according to what season it is. As you can imagine, when we're in event mode, it gets pretty nuts. Day to day, though, it's very similar to UCSB in that I work with amazing people who are absolutely fantastic at their jobs. We work really hard, but we play really hard too - we like to have fun around the office! Switching gears, 1st Thursday is its own beast. It's incredibly rewarding in that we have the opportunity to make a difference for small business owners while engaging the community in the arts and culture that make Downtown Santa Barbara the vibrant place that it is. Not to say it doesn't take loads of work -- we generally work a whole month ahead, so by the time June’s 1st Thursday rolls around, we'll already be half way through wrapping up July’s 1st Thursday and everything that entails behind the scenes.

What does being a Gaucho mean to you? What experiences at UCSB do you bring to your professional life today?

Being a Gaucho is really a gift, not just here locally, but around the country, and I would imagine around the world as well. Wherever I go, I'm sure to find a UCSB alumnus or alumna -- I know because they hoot and holler at me when they see my UCSB gear.

I hope to be one of those full-fledged adults one day that screams "Gooooo Gauchooooos" at some kid walking down the street in a UCSB t-shirt.

As for relating UCSB to my work, I have this job due to my connections to UCSB and the Alumni Association. I'll always be the employee I am now because of UCSB. I like to think I'm intelligent and an incredibly hard worker, but having fun in the work place is super important to me as well. It's important that I not only respect and admire the people I work with (and that they respect me too) but that we can laugh together, grab drinks, and be friends too. I don't think that work hard, play hard “UCSB-ness” ever goes away.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I love my job, and I'm incredibly happy here. I don't see myself leaving soon. In the future, though, I'm not entirely sure what I want to do or where I want to be. As much as I love California, and Santa Barbara in particular, I think I need to live in a different state for a while to gain new experiences and perspectives on life. Events kind of fell into my lap -- I didn't know that's what I wanted to do until I figured out I was good at it. While I love doing that, and my personality absolutely fits that job, I don't necessarily want to do just events forever.

I'd love to work in programs for a 501(c)3 non-profit. There are a lot of causes I'm incredibly passionate about: the arts, women's issues, gender/sexuality advocacy, sex education, politics, Judaism and social justice.

There are so many means by which to make the world a better place -- at least, a better place in my eyes. I'm just not quite sure how I want to achieve that goal yet.

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