By John Wilkes from Eyesonobama.com:
If you take nothing away from this post, understand this: politics has more growth potential than just about any other job you can think of. Developing your skills, working hard, and showing leadership potential will mean that you can move up the ladder quickly in an incredibly rewarding field.
We’ve put up a few posts over the last few days to highlight the launch of the new EyesOnObama.com Job Board, the first and only job posting site dedicated exclusively to political jobs. On Monday, we talked about how now is the perfect time to get a job in politics. And yesterday, we talked a little bit more about three different types of political jobs that are fun, rewarding, and you’re likely already qualified to do.
In the comments section, we got an excellent question that we feel we simply have to address: without experience, how does one break into jobs in politics?
For whatever it is you do in your work life, there’s a pretty good chance there’s someone doing the same thing or something very similar in a Congressional office or campaign. So if you’ve never worked in a political setting before, don’t worry! Your other experience may satisfy a lot of what the campaign is looking for nonetheless.
So for starters, the only thing you need to do is find a campaign that needs help. Our job board is a good place to start. There are literally thousands of elected offices in the United States, from the 535 federal congressmen to the assemblymen, senators, mayors, and city councilmen near you. They're almost always looking for help. So find a candidate you believe in, and get on board.
If you deal with customers- whether you’re a telemarketer, a retail clerk, a waiter, or you hold any other customer service position- you’ll fit in perfectly at a campaign or in a field office. Campaigns constantly need people to be in touch with donors and voters, getting the word out about the candidate and his or her message. There are door-to-door canvasses and phone banks, not to mention simply being in attendance at public events to help answer questions from concerned citizens. In field offices, elected officials often use people with this kind of experience to funnel important issues up to him as inquiries come in from the community at large. Constituents will often call or write with concerns- maybe a park has become run down and dilapidated, or maybe a school program has been cut- and the official will need to know which issues are the most important and most pressing.
Maybe you’ve worked as a secretary or personal assistant. Again, you’ll be very valuable to a political campaign. Organization is the key to success in a campaign, and people who can master this won’t just get jobs in politics, they’ll thrive in them.
Of course, having a skill means you’ll find a niche rather quickly. If you’re a techie, there are plenty of website projects, as well as maintaining a presence online through social networking forums and blogging. If you’re a writer, chances are you’ll be helping to draft speeches, letters, and opinion editorials for local newspapers. If you have an advanced degree in a particular field like economics or biological sciences, you may even be asked to be a policy advisor.
If you have absolutely no experience in anything whatsoever, you’re still not out of luck. People who are new to politics might be asked to start off doing genuine campaign work like delivering yard signs, registering voters, and mailing letters. But the harder you work, the more quickly you’ll be given jobs with more responsibility.
If you take nothing away from this post, understand this: politics has more growth potential than just about any other job you can think of. Loyalty is heavily rewarded, and the truth is that many campaign workers are volunteers and college students who are only around for one campaign. So when they’re gone and you’re still there, guess who moves up the food chain? Plus, any time you direct people (whether they’re paid or not), you gain management experience. And when the candidate is up for reelection again (in Congress, that’s every two years), you’ll probably be given a little more responsibility than you were before. From there, you can become a field director, or a deputy campaign manager. Or maybe you’ll be offered a job in the congressional office.
Believe it or not, if you can do well as a political staffer, there’s a very good chance you’ll have an opportunity to run for office yourself one day. Many of today’s Congressman began as hardworking staffers who proved themselves with their determination and grit. And when it came time for their boss to retire, they were the ones who got his or her endorsement in the next election. Look at Senator Ted Kauffman of Delaware, who was appointed to fill the seat being vacated by Vice President Joe Biden. Or Rahm Emanuel, who worked his way up as a staffer all the way to the White House before he ran for office himself.
Or think of this: private corporations will pay top dollar for people who’ve established relationships in the political world.
There is an incredibly opportunity to challenge yourself and thrive in politics. So seize it and get started on a new journey. And don’t forget to check the job board!