Getting started in a career that feels far-fetched is intimidating. But there are key foundational skills one should posses to thrive in politics. If Trump’s presidency taught us anything, it’s that we need good leaders in office. Leaders that care about the American people, our well-being, and our healthcare. Leaders that care about putting an end to discrimination, unequal gender rights, unemployment and systemic racism. In efforts to help you navigate a potential career in politics, we scoured the Internet for top tips from politicians of all levels. Whether you aspire to be a politician or want to get involved, read on to find out more.
What is Politics?
United States politics is composed of federal and local governments: president, senator and lobbyists are responsible for passing laws. State representatives and governors meet the needs of their respective citizens by listening to suggestions and complaints to guide decisions. Entry-level jobs typically pay lower salaries and are more so a love of career or civic duty that motivates aspiring politicians to continue to climb the ladder.
1. Volunteer on a political campaign
Volunteering is one of the most common ways to get political experience. Whether it’s for local school board, state legislature, or congress — every political campaign needs hard workers who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and do the grunt, non-glamourous work necessary for victory. The work: registering new voters, stuffing and addressing envelopes, making phone calls on behalf of the candidate, sending text messages, canvassing door-to-door, and calling for more donations. It’s very time consuming but necessary and gives you a great eye into a campaigns activities. All campaigns rely on these “on the ground” volunteers to spread enthusiasm for their candidate and policies they care about.
If you do the job well, you’ll likely be given more responsibilities that could lead to a more visible role in the campaign.
2. Join a nonprofit organization
Nonprofit organizations exist for specific issues and concerns of the community or world. Like Habitat for Humanity that creates housing for the less fortunate or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) that supports politicians who work to reduce the accidents from drunk driving. Working at a nonprofit could mean attending meetings, marches and rallies, staffing local offices, or organizing volunteers and events.
3. Join your local government
Getting involved at your local and state government is a great way to see how agencies and legislation work on a smaller scale. You can volunteer and work to drive voter registration without being affiliated with a specific candidate. You can volunteer on election day at polling places or you can attend town hall meetings and canvas for the census bureau.
Getting your foot in at your local government is a great stepping stone to entry-level jobs. It could lead to positions in your mayor or governor’s office, or state capitol’s building. They also have various internships you can seek out in the court system, attorney general and district attorney offices, transportation office, environment agency, housing office, planning agency and strategy firms.
4. Stay informed
One of the most important things you can do is stay informed on local, national and international news. It is vital that you know what political affairs are occurring. Stay relevant, engaged and informed. Read your local newspaper, state newspapers and national publications like: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and more. And if there is a specific issue in your own community, think up ways how you can solve it and work on forming your own opinions.
It’s important to know that this is just a starting point. Persistence, determination, hard work and faith will get you to where you want to be.