How to Work for a Political Campaign

February 27, 2013

Political campaigns are considered by many to be shady organizations, and many times rightly so. However, if you want to become involved in politics, working for a campaign is a fantastic opportunity. Doing so will give you experience, help build connections, and maybe be a great starting out point for an up and coming political career.

Keep in mind though that it isn’t all glory when working for a campaign. These jobs are often very strenuous, and require massive amounts of overtime work. In fact, 20 hour days are not unheard of when working for a campaign. Be prepared for long hours, high stress, and intense situations.

If you want to work for a political campaign, here are some things you can do to make it happen:

Join a Party

Joining a political party is a very important first step of this process. If you want to work for a political campaign, you need to make sure you are affiliated with a party which you can support. Find out which party’s ideologies align most closely to yours. You likely already have all of this figured out, but this is an important reminder for anyone who doesn’t.

Start out Volunteering

Most political campaigns pay only a few dedicated employees, the rest of their workforce is made up of volunteers. To get started at the ground level, you will need to do some volunteer work for a political campaign. Whether it is a national presidential campaign or a local one, any work you can do will help you later, even if you don’t get paid now. You will develop important connections by doing this, and hopefully make a little bit of a name for yourself.

Don’t Complain

When you are doing the lower level campaigning work, you likely won’t be doing anything fun. Stuffing envelopes and knocking on doors may not be your favorite thing in the world. However, try your hardest to avoid complaining about it in any way to anyone. You never know who will end up running for office one day, and if you want to get hired by someone who you volunteered with back in the day, you better hope they remember you as a hard worker.

Network Everywhere

This is one of the biggest keys to politics, and it is mentioned in almost every article on this site. Networking is extremely important, regardless of whether you are trying to simply work for a local campaign or run for a Senate seat. Use every opportunity possible to forge new connections, and strengthen existing ones. If you are volunteering, you will have tons of opportunities to make new connections with people who hold power within your party.

Do an Internship

Beyond just volunteering during campaign season, there are also lots of internships an aspiring political worker can take advantage of. For students especially, there are tons of internships that will connect you with people in high places, and give you college credit at the same time. All US Congress members run internship programs both in the offices in their state, as well as in Washington DC itself. Having one of these internships on your resume is a great way to show you know your way around the political system.

Climb the Ladder

If you’ve done some volunteering or maybe an internship, you are ready to begin climbing the ladder. Your experiences in one campaign will help you get a higher position in the next. The one key disadvantage to this career path is the gap in time between campaign seasons, but if you apply each year to campaigns and begin to build up a solid history of working them, you will no doubt have opportunities to work in the position you want for the campaign you want.

Job Getting Basics

Of course, there are lots of basic job getting skills that you should have a solid handle on when you are attempting to work a campaign. Resume writing, interviewing, self-promotion and more are hugely important, and your skills in each will likely determine the success of your employment quest. I highly recommend that you read Get a Job NOW, which is all about mastering these skills. It is a relatively short Kindle ebook that has tons of fantastic advice on the subject.

Category: Getting Involved, Jobs and Careers

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