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Auburn alumnus Sanders uses degrees to craft high-level messages across public, private sectors

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For Auburn graduate Cody Sanders, the knowledge and experience he gained while on the Plains has helped him write letters to the nation’s highest office, as well as to clients and organizations looking to reach the American people.

Coming from a family full of Auburn graduates, Sanders knew he had to be a tiger. While the rest of his family had attended college to study business or engineering, Sanders had a different career path on his mind – politics.

“I was always a political junkie,” said Sanders, whose parents and grandparents also graduated from Auburn. “The other kids were getting up and watching cartoons in the morning, and I was watching the news. I’ve always enjoyed keeping up with politics and current events.”

During his time on the Plains, Sanders’ penchant for driving flourished. He served as a member of the Student Government Association, the President of the Organizational Council and held a leadership role in his fraternity, Sigma No.

“All of these experiences have been great in terms of teaching me how to work with teams and work with diverse groups of people to accomplish a common mission,” Sanders said.

Sanders graduated from Auburn University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and in 2016 with a master’s degree in public administration.

After his stint at Auburn, Sanders worked as a development assistant for Americans for Prosperity, and then as a legislative reporter for former Alabama Senator Luther Strange. Armed with his experience from working with Strange, Sanders moved to the White House, where he held various positions throughout the Donald Trump administration.

Sanders entered the White House as a presidential clerk, drafting correspondence, response letters, and statements to former President Trump. From this position he became Director of Presidential Messages and Director of Advertising and Messages. Sanders combined the two roles, placing him at the head of what for a time was one of the White House’s largest overall offices.

“A lot of it was planned in the messaging calendar based on what was happening at the time, but obviously when things happened, you needed to be able to adapt quickly,” Sanders said. “When it came to some of the biggest mega projects like the State of the Union or a big foreign policy win, everyone had a role to play, so you have to work collaboratively with the other offices.”

Even while serving in the White House, the world can get a little smaller when he comes across another member of the Auburn family.

“You never knew who you would meet at the White House,” Sanders said. “Tim Cook was there one day, so talking to him and saying, ‘Hey, I’m also an Auburn graduate,’ was really really special.”

Sanders also served as Director of Policy Coordination at the National Security Council, or National Security Council, where he served in the Directorate of Strategic Engagement on a variety of pressing national security items. He believes that his graduation from Auburn High School helped prepare him for his time on the National Security Council.

“My graduation program has been crucial to my career,” Sanders said. “I became a better writer and learned how to really read reports, which became very useful to me when I got to the National Security Council and the White House, in terms of understanding the huge amounts of data, the succinctness of the analytics, the ability to put it together and get what you want out of it.

“At the time, I didn’t realize Auburn Graduate School of Education would have such an impact, but it has generally made me a better aide to both the president and the National Security Council.”

Now working as Director of Public Affairs at PLUS Communications, a public relations and communications consulting firm in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, Sanders takes his experiences from working in the public sector and applies it to the private sphere.

“I am fortunate to have moved from a fast-paced environment in the public sector to another fast-paced environment in the private sector,” Sanders said.

At PLUS, Sanders works with clients to craft messages for cause and advocacy campaigns that will reach the American people. He takes pride in seeing how PLUS’ work impacts the world.

“I think the coolest thing for me is seeing how our work relates to so many other things,” Sanders said. “Right now, we are working with a client who is working on the fight against illegal trade, and you can see how that plays a role in combating other issues, like the fentanyl crisis. That was probably one of the most amazing aspects.”

Outside of work, Sanders spends his time duck hunting, hiking and boxing. In November 2021, he raised nearly $15,000 for the AUTLIVE Foundation, Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl, for cancer awareness, by fighting at Haymakers for Hope, a charitable boxing event in Washington, D.C., which raises money for research Cancer Care, Awareness and Survival. .

Sanders’ advice to students who may be interested in a career in politics is to gain experience, not be afraid to talk to people and take advantage of all the opportunities to learn from the experts that Auburn offers.

“My first tip is to do an internship, and my second is to knock on some doors and talk to people,” Sanders said. “Find out the issues that matter to people and find out what people in your area think.

“I would also say while you are in Auburn to take advantage of as many speaking engagements as possible and then talk to the speakers afterward, because you never know if that person might be able to help you one day with an internship or letter of recommendation.”

Sanders views his time at Auburn positively and believes it helped him get to where he is today.

“I really enjoyed my time at Auburn,” Sanders said. “It definitely prepared me for the career I own.”

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