No Experience Required: Low-Level Jobs That Launched Careers in the Trump Administration
Frank Sinatra once sang about New York City, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” But what if you couldn’t make it in the Big Apple, or anywhere else? Could you still land a job in the Trump administration?
The answer, according to the massive database of Trump appointees and hires compiled by ProPublica, is yes. In these records, available for the first time in March 2018, everyone can see the financial disclosures of thousands of people working in the administration.
Leaving the many lobbyists and fundraisers aside, taxpayers might be surprised how many folks held few (if any) quality jobs before joining up with the most powerful man on earth. From fast-food cashiers to waiters, the list of folks with embarrassingly thin résumés is quite long.
Here are 10 of the employees who worked bottom-rung jobs before launching their careers in the Trump administration.
1. Chick-fil-A cashier
- Trump administration job: Confidential Assistant, Dept. of Commerce
Can any American dream top going from Chick-fil-A cashier to a position in the Trump administration two years later? To be fair, William Reinert also held a position as a staff writer for six months before joining the Trump campaign.
He’s now a confidential assistant at the Department of Commerce. You could call that a “meteoric rise” if you feel like it.
Next: A ‘freelance baseball trainer’ joined Ben Carson’s Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
2. Freelance baseball trainer
- Trump administration job: Briefing and Book Coordinator, HUD
James Bacon, the briefing and book coordinator at HUD, also seems less than qualified for his job. According to his financial disclosure, Bacon never lasted more than two months at any job before joining the Trump administration. One highlight was a stint as a “freelance baseball trainer” in Los Angeles.
Next: Prior to joining Wilbur Ross at Commerce, this official answered the phones at an animal hospital.
3. Animal hospital receptionist
- Trump administration job: Advance Assistant, Dept. of Commerce
To any kids out there: When you grow up, always keep plowing forward. That’s what Jonathan Wardell did when he found himself answering phones at an animal hospital in 2016.
After three months, Wardell parlayed that experience into a waiter gig at Sundown Saloon in Greenwich, Connecticut. From there, he headed to the Big Apple to work on Trump’s campaign. Now he’s at the Commerce Dept., serving taxpayers in the role of advance assistant.
Next: If you can make a good margarita, you may end up at the U.S. State Department.
- Trump administration job: Special Advisor, U.S. State Dept.
In an article about curious Trump administration hires, The New York Times highlighted the story of Taylor Bush. Prior to joining the Trump campaign and serving as a special advisor at the State Department, Bush was a bartender at Hamilton Restaurant.
Taxpayers currently pay Bush $94,796 for his service to the country.
Next: The EPA has dubious hires from top to bottom.
- Trump administration job: Policy Advisor, Environmental Protection Agency
Other than work for Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), William Lovell’s non-governmental experience was work as a “tasker” at “TaskRabbit.” From what we can tell, that means an “odd-jobs taker” or gofer.
We’re not sure if either job qualified Lovell for his current position. Here’s what Cornyn has to say about environmental protection: “We need more energy. Government should get out of the way … and allow more domestic energy production.”
Next: This Walmart employee’s ability to read people probably got him into the Trump administration.
6. Walmart sales associate
- Trump administration job: Staff Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, Agriculture
Joel Sawyer Small, a Walmart sales associate and cashier, scored a staff job at the Department of Agriculture. Though Small only made it to June 2017, a look at his bio might explain his original appeal.
“My greatest skill is being able to ‘read people,'” he wrote. “Often I am able to identify how someone is really thinking or feeling without them having to tell me.”
Next: He went from furniture store customer service to deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
7. Furniture store customer service
- Trump administration job: White House Liaison, Office of National Drug Control Policy
The story of Taylor Weyeneth came to light in January 2018 following a Washington Post article. Weyeneth’s experience in customer care at a furniture store and time on the Trump campaign apparently qualified him to be the Office of National Drug Control Policy Deputy Chief of Staff.
Actually, it didn’t, and the folks at the ONDCP apparently felt embarrassed after the Post article appeared. A short time later, Weyeneth returned to his previous job as White House Liaison, where he makes $79,720.
Next: This RNC worker began promoting nuclear energy abroad with Commerce.
8. Campaign worker
- Trump administration job: Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Commerce Dept.
Thanks for a blog she wrote as a housing coordinator for the RNC, we have a glimpse what Cameron Dorsey’s life was like during the campaign. She described it “long hours, cheap pizzas, and even cheaper beers.”
According to The New York Times, Dorsey now promotes the sale of nuclear equipment overseas as special assistant to Commerce’s chief of staff. That’s a long way from pizza and beer.
Next: She wasn’t employed, but she did have an internship marketing class rings in college.
- Trump administration job: Special Assistant, Health and Human Services (HHS)
Technically “student” isn’t a job, but it is all the relevant experience Riley Althouse had before joining the Trump administration. Otherwise, her LinkedIn page describes a internship marketing class rings at her school.
Before she knew it, she was hired as a special assistant at Health and Human Services, home to the fabulous meltdown of Secretary Tom Price in 2017.
Next: This campaign worker went to work for one of Trump’s biggest campaign donors in D.C.
10. Language specialist
- Trump administration job: Administrative Assistant, Small Business Administration
Other than his work on the Trump campaign, Thomas Chase Acheson’s résumé included work as a “language specialist” for the Mormon Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. That background was good enough to get him in the door at Linda McMahon’s Small Business Administration.
To be fair to Acheson, his boss wasn’t exactly qualified to work in the administration, either. It took McMahon’s $7 million in campaign donations to land the job of SBA administrator.
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