Getting a Job in Politics—In the Beginning
Ready, set, GO!
Here you are, a recent college graduate ready to begin your career path and eager to make a difference. That’s what this moment is all about, and that’s what the last four years have been all about. And now you’re ready to get into politics.
Or are you?
Getting a job on a campaign—or with any other political organization for that matter—can be an overwhelming process. But with campaign season in full swing, they need help.
Here are 4 ways to help you get in on the ground floor of your dream job.
1. Great Expectations Often Start Low
Regardless of how highly skilled you were at your last job and/or how you ran several organizations while maintaining a near perfect GPA, if you’ve never worked in politics, you’ll have to start at the ground level. This usually means going out into the field as a canvasser or field organizer.
However, there is a difference between starting at the ground level and starting at the bottom. In politics there really isn’t a “bottom” because every position is absolutely vital to run a successful campaign. You’re on the ground, not the bottom. And, you’ll learn a lot. Maybe even have fun.
Volunteering not only looks good on your resume but is a great way to get in with a specific campaign or organization you’ve targeted. Even if you call and they say they aren’t hiring at the moment, show up and work for free. Do whatever is needed, then go above and beyond. It’s all about making yourself invaluable and letting them know that you want the job. In politics just showing up and doing what you’re told is half the battle. Volunteering often leads to a job.
3. Always Be Training
There are tons of organizations out there that do political training. Taking advantage of this can’t be stressed enough but we’ll do it again anyway just in case: TAKE ADVANTAGE. You know why? Because these trainings are also the perfect place to prove yourself as qualified while networking with the same folks that are hiring. That’s the secret. So, make sure you are online (right now) looking up any political training you can attend.
4. There Are No Limits
Beginners often think that the only way to work in politics is to work on a campaign—and the bigger the better. NOT TRUE. Working directly for a big campaign may sound great, but there are dozens of other opportunities that will accomplish the same goal of developing your skill-sets. And, you may get noticed more in a smaller campaign, and have more opportunities to show what you’ve got.
Try some of these places that get you involved:
- Advocacy groups
- Consultants & Firms
- 527s etc.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself before you even get started.
Expand your search to include the above because it can have added benefits such as higher pay, better job title, more flexibility, and more visibility.
Working in a campaign or any political organization is simply unlike anything else you have ever done. It requires a basic understanding of how campaigns run and that really only comes from experience.
Lucky you to be located in the epicenter of American politics and public policy. Chances are you have direct access to the people that can steer you in the right direction. But the only way to make it happen is by getting out there and making it happen.
We’ll look for you cheering your heroes on!