Please! Get out on the Road and Find a Political Campaign Job!
When I started on the campaign trail, I was lucky enough to go through the Campaign Management Institute, where I became focused on political campaigns and encountered great mentors like Peter Fenn, Richard Smolka, Bill Sweeney and Peter Lindstrom through college programs and internships. Meeting folks who had made careers out of politics encouraged me to set aside my mom’s vision of me becoming a professional chef and instead, pursue a career in politics and find a political campaign job.
During my senior year of college, I conducted an independent study from which my research evolved into an official FEC complaint. It was through that project that I met the incredible journeyman researcher, Peter Lindstrom. Despite pleadings from relatives on "getting a real job," I knew all I wanted was to work in politics for a living. Peter Lindstrom connected me to Jim Jontz, who in turn, hired me on as a Field Representative. I found my first political campaign job, I survived on $1,100 dollars a month and free food brought by campaign volunteers. It didn’t matter; I was hooked on campaigning and determined to stick with it. Every year, most campaigns are desperate for cheap, young campaign staff willing to work long hours for low wages. So if you want to enter the field, and you're smart and driven, you should be able to find yourself a position. To be clear, however, it will likely take some time, and your first political campaign job might not be the exact position that you originally wanted. You will probably be required to travel, eat bad food, sleep in a house with way too many people, and more than likely, work in an office that should have been condemned long before you arrived, and which will be condemned only after you leave. Sound like fun? Then get on the road! Here are some tips to begin your search for a campaign job:
Sign up for Listserves: These can be great resources for finding a political campaign job. Here are a few that we love: Jobs That Are Left Simply Hired Brad Traverse Political Job Hunt Progressive Exchange Work for Progress
Explore campaign placement programs: Back in the day, Campaign Corps and Participation 200 paid folks to go into the field. Hopefully these types of programs will come back in fashion. Check this one out: Wellstone Corps
Attend a training program: We have already written a lot about this, but there really are a lot of campaign training programs out there that can train you well for little to no money before placing you on a campaign.
Intern prior to graduating: For many of my colleagues and myself included, participating in paid and unpaid intern programs prior to graduation were great sources of leads for jobs on campaigns.
Use your existing network: Friends, Facebook or otherwise, can be a great resource for you when looking for a job. There will likely be someone in your network who has either worked on, or even volunteered for a campaign, and who may be able to offer you advice and direction.
Follow up: If you really want to work in politics, you need to show some moxie. There are plenty of people and resources out there that can help get you started, but ultimately you have to stick with it and not be deterred when you don’t encounter instant results.
Email consulting firms: Part of our mission, here at The Campaign Workshop, is to train and place progressive college grads looking to go out on the campaign trail. There are never any guarantees in the political world, but you can begin your political campaign job search here by sending us your resume! Have other questions about finding a political campaign job? Ask us!