“It was a defining part of my college experience, and balancing school and sports was, without a doubt, challenging,” he said. “It was an intense environment, and I think the experience taught me to stay pretty even-keeled, something that is definitely beneficial in this job.”
Babyak got his start in politics as an intern in the district office of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in the summer of 2006. After graduation in 2007, he moved to Washington and worked temporary jobs until the staff assistant position opened up in McHenry’s office.
Moving to the city wasn’t a difficult transition for Babyak, who said he was used to the “hustle and bustle” of the East Coast from his college days in New Jersey. In fact, he said he loves that D.C. is walkable, has a vibrant music scene and is dog-friendly, particularly around his Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Babyak envisioned pursuing a career in politics, and even imagined working on the Hill one day. But when he thought of politics, the press wasn’t the first thing that came to mind.
“I came into this job wanting to just get my foot in the door,” he said. “But as I’ve moved up, especially with the new media stuff, I really saw myself gravitating toward the press side.”
Since starting his new job, Babyak has managed the press, run the communications operations and served as a spokesperson. The main difference from his previous positions is that instead of being a helper, he is solely responsible for taking on media initiatives, new and old.
“President Obama set a really high- water mark in the use of new media for communicating with constituents and getting in touch with grass-roots movements,” he said. “From that point, Republicans really made it into something bigger. It’s been a big, concerted effort to use all these innovative platforms.”
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.