From Right Field to West Wing: Tom Joannou’s Journey to Washington D. C.
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New York Institute of Technology has one of the highest rates of employment among 4 year universities for graduates within 6 months of graduating at 93.4%. However, there doesn’t seem to be a statistic for students finding full time employment before graduating, or in this case, being a full time employee under the POTUS in Washington D.C. NYIT’s very own Tom Joannou, and to-be graduate among the class of 2017 is working with a Senior Advisor for the duration of Donald Trump’s tenure as United States President on Pennsylvania Avenue.
As Tom’s junior year was coming to a close, there was a firm belief that there was a future in baseball beyond being a Captain for the Men’s Division 1 baseball program. This is exactly where the 21 year old Finance Major had envisioned his life decisions coming to a crossroad, play well enough to get drafted, or start lining up internships and potential jobs for next year.
Tom had a hot start to his junior season, feeling confident and making the best of his playing time, relishing the opportunity to get asked to play in one of the higher up summer leagues. Then came a painful slump for #7, his last 25 games of the season were filled with unfortunate outcomes and struggles.
“I was distraught and devastated,” said Joannou. “I couldn’t believe that I can go from dominating to just horrible.” His hopes of going on to play top tier summer baseball had dwindled, and realistically eliminated any chances of baseball after college.
With no summer plans to build his resume and job opportunities, relying on playing summer ball, Tom was stuck among the thousands of college students around the country feeling frustrated and up against an incredible obstacle, MONEY.
“I stumbled across a tweet believe it or not from one of Trump’s Advisors that had a form to apply for an internship”. With nothing to lose Tom did fill out that application and a few days later, he received a call that he was accepted. “I started as an intern, stuffing mail, answering phones, emails, and writing thank you notes”. Tom did this for about 2 weeks until they eventually asked him to join the finance team under full employment. He would carry out this position from June until September. “Once the school year started I knew that it would not be easy juggling School, Student-Athlete responsibilities, and a full time job.
Working out a schedule with the Trump Campaign, this was Tom’s 2016 September through November (Monday-Friday):
5:15am Train Into Penn Station
7:00 am – 2:00 pm Work @ Trump Tower
3:00pm – 5:00pm Back on campus for Baseball Practice
6:00pm – 10:00pm Night Class
“It was not easy; I didn’t really sleep from September to November”. After Trump’s victorious campaign, Tom continued his duties and was not very sure what would come of his position and job security. The stars were aligning for Tom, as he received another life changing call on December 16th, his birthday, from a fellow employee asking him to meet with one of their senior advisors. The following day he was offered a full time position as staff assistant to a senior advisor.
After Tom received the job offer, he said that he was not as ecstatic as he should have been, because he knew the toughest part was coming up, telling his coaches and teammates that he was not going to be along for the final ride.
“I felt as though I was letting everyone down, but the support I got immediately from Coach Bob, Coach Vinny, and then afterwards from my teammates was more than I could imagine. They knew this was my passion and an opportunity of a lifetime. I love those guys and we’ve been through a lot. I miss being out there on the field.”
Currently, Tom Joannou lives in Washington D.C about 15 minutes from his new office, in the West Wing of the White House. Tom shared his views on a life lesson that he got out of this whole world wind of just 8 months.
“I was crushed last year, like absolutely devastated with how my baseball season ended, I couldn’t believe it, but if I were to have a great second half of my junior year, I would have never ended up where I am now. God had a plan for me, so that pain sucked but now I work with the POTUS on a daily basis in the White House.”