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Q&A with Trevor McNary, Class of 2016


Trevor McNary, Class of 2016

Major: Economics and International Studies

Senior Engagement Associate at 270 Strategies *




What was your childhood like?

It was a fairly standard childhood. I grew up in Lexington and went through the public school system there. My parents always pushed the value of education and taking care of the most marginalized people which are values I have to this day.

How did you wind up at UK? Why did you select Economics and International Studies as your major?

After reading Freakonomics when I was younger, I always knew that I wanted to study economics when I went to college. This wasn’t really to gain any particular technical skillset, but I wanted to learn how to think like an economist. I decided to study international studies because I am a person who finds beauty and value in studying and uplifting other cultures. So the two seemed like they naturally fit my interests/personality.

Tell us a little bit about your first job, after graduation.

I work for a political consulting firm called 270 Strategies. We are a public affairs firm that helps non-profits, political candidates, and some corporations build grassroots movements and connect with their key audiences. I travel around the country, and some internationally, helping my clients run trainings, produce plans and build the staffs they need to succeed.

How did your major prepare you for your career?

My degrees have helped really build my worldview and shaped the ways that I tackle problems. There are really no degrees that perfectly line up with working on political campaigns, but this work requires critical thinking and logic. Both of those were big components of my economics degree.

What were you looking for when you went on to work for 270 Strategies? What is your favorite part of your current role?

I was looking for a job where I could learn a lot and do meaningful work for causes that I supported. I was lucky enough to get all of those things out of my first job. But, beyond the experiences I’ve had at 270, my favorite part of my job is my co-workers. I work with a lot of incredibly smart, supportive, and thoughtful people who I love seeing every day.

What is the best interview question you were ever asked?

What’s the most critical piece of feedback you’ve received and how did you change your behavior to address it?

What advice do you have for current undergraduates? 

Your worth is not measured by your productivity. I love having a job that inspires me and working with co-workers that have become some of my closest friends. But I think sometimes we push so hard in pursuit of a careers that we forget that we have interests and value outside of work. I have a family that loves me and supports me no matter what. I have friends who care for me regardless of what I do for them. I love my job, and it’s important to me, but it doesn’t define who I am and it’s not the most important part of my life.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

-Teddy Roosevelt

Please share anything else about your time at UK and/or your career.

Applying for the Gaines Fellowship was the best decision I made as an undergraduate at UK. It’s a special program to me even now. It stretched my mind and introduced me to some of my dearest friends and favorite people on UK’s campus. If you’re at all interested in the humanities you should apply. It was a transformative program in my college career.


*Company and job title at the time this article was posted