Colgate alumna Samantha Darche ’01 spoke at a Brown Bag on Wednesday, March 25, regarding her experience within the realm of public service. The Brown Bag was a part of a week of events aimed at the pursuit of the common good. Hosted by the Common Good Professional Network, the respective Brown Bags and information sessions provided students with information and firsthand experience as to the various forms of employment provided by the nonprofit and common good sector.
Darche focused on her personal history, explaining the path that she forged from Colgate to her current form of employment within state government. Although she now serves as the Chief of Staff and Legislative Counsel for the New York Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Darche had not originally intended to pursue a career in government. During her time at Colgate, she was intent upon attending law school immediately after graduation. This goal led her to Brooklyn Law School, where she obtained a law degree and then immediately began working for the District Attorney’s office. Darche explained that prior to working for the DA, she had assumed that she would spend the rest of her life working within the office. However, her experience within the office and the nature of its work ultimately changed this plan.
“I felt like I was emptying the ocean with a teaspoon,” Darche said.
She spoke of her frustration towards the overarching system of mass incarceration that contributes to the brunt of the district attorney’s work. Darche further detailed the repetitive nature of doling out punitive sentences to various members of the community, an aspect of the district attorney’s office that she did not find rewarding. This frustration led her to seek employment that served to positively contribute to the community, namely a government position that aimed to facilitate community growth. She began attending weekly meetings for her local democratic club, providing her with connections that led to internships. An unpaid summer internship for Assemblywoman Simotas eventually became a full-time paid job for Darche.
Senior Elena Havas was one of the students who attended the lecture.
“Samantha Darche shared anecdotes from her circuitous professional path. I really enjoyed listening to professional advice from alumni in government careers,” Havas said.
Darche utilized numerous anecdotes in order to stress to students that a successful career path does not need to follow one’s original post-graduate plan. Although a life devoted to the practice of law within the district attorney’s office did not prove satisfying to Darche, she noted the importance of that job. It allowed her to realize various forms of employment devoted to the pursuit of the common good that extended beyond that of strictly the legal realm. Darche advised students on the importance of Colgate networking.
“Be flexible, show up and always lean on your Colgate connections,” Darche said.
Emphasizing the importance of accountability, she assured students that unpaid internships are a viable avenue to ultimately finding the right career. Darche reminded the audience that her current job was the immediate byproduct of an unpaid internship. She further noted the importance of a Colgate degree, namely for the Colgate connections that inevitably attach themselves to it.