Project Wonderful

Monday, November 29, 2010

G.O.T. ME!!!

In case you have not seen my facebook status lately, I have been nominated for the 2010 Rootscamp Most Valuable Organizer Award! Consummate organizer that I am, I can't help but ask for your vote. If you like my blog or better yet, me, please vote by clicking here and scrolling down to "like" me on this page. Thanks to everyone who nominated me and thanks in advance for your vote!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Thinking of Grad School?

Me too. In fact, it's consuming my life. Well, right now I am procrastinating by letting myself become obsessed over the things I wish I had done differently in this process. Though this isn't strictly campaign related, I do think that some of these regrets come from my having chosen a non-traditional career path. So I figured, as I often do, that I would try to give you the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

Here is some advice I wish someone had given me in preparation for the grad school application process.

1) Take some classes.
Even though my programs don't require me to post-bac, I wish I had done this anyway. A lot of public policy and business programs require strong quantitative skills and although we all know where these come into play on a campaign, it's less obvious to others and scoring well in a math or econ class could solve that. In addition, if your grades weren't great in college, as mine were not, it gives you an opportunity to prove that you've matured. Finally if you've been out of school for a while, it's an opportunity to cultivate an academic reference, and one who is more experienced in writing letters of recommendation than your campaign colleagues are likely to be, which brings me to number 2...

2) Give your references plenty of warning, and coaching. You should probably do this anyway, but it goes double if your references are campaign folk. Asking these people to write a reference in October of an election year is far from ideal. You don't want to miss out on a reference who knows you well because they don't have time and you don't want them to do a rushed job. In addition, your friends and colleagues are probably unfamiliar with the application process so it useful to give them plenty of coaching about writing a good recommendation. Talk to admissions officers about what they are looking for in an application and then use your recs to highlight your strengths with specific examples and to help address any holes.

3) Start your applications early, not just the essay. I made this mistake with my early applications. I spent weeks writing answers to the long essay questions, but had not considered what I would include in my resume, what if anything, I would write about having been sick in college in the portion where they ask if there is any additional information the admissions committee should know, and how long it would take to track down and upload my transcripts in the proper format. Ideally I would fill all of these out ahead of time, and have uploading my final essays as the last step.

4) Visit the campus. Trying to distinguish between schools from their websites and viewbooks is kind of like online dating- you won't get a real feel for them until you meet them in person. Undergraduate institutions have distinct personalities and so do their graduate counterparts. Not only will pre-application visits save you time and money on applying to places you wouldn't actually want to go, they will help you get a feel for the culture of the school and thus what to include in your application.

5) Be able to make an argument for why you need your degree. I like to joke that I have a PhD in Campaign Management from the school of hard knocks, and yet here I am pursuing not one, but two masters. I was actually good about this one. I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of a graduate degree and which programs fit my career goals before I began to apply. If you can't explain to yourself why you need a degree from that institution to achieve your goals, then how can you explain it to the school? The more specific the better.

I'm looking forward to sharing my personal statement with you. Ideally, after having been accepted.

With campaign love and grad school ambitions,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are you Campaignsick?

It happens every year after election day. For the first few weeks, I go on vacation, I sleep, I see my friends. Then one day I wake up with this manic feeling that I have to do something.

If there is one lesson I learned from working for OFA, it's the importance of not letting our skills get rusty. Here are 5 ways to remain connected during the off season, without hoping back in whole hog.

1) Rootscamp or other professional development programs. I have not been to a Rootscamp event myself but I was at the NOI Campaign Manager training last year and it awesome. I learned a lot, and I'm me. I would be endorsing them ANYWAY, but while you are on their page, you can click here to vote for me for the Most Valuable Organizer of 2010.

2) Talk to your Representatives We got them elected (or one of our colleagues did) and now it's time to hold their feet to the fire. Find out what issues are up for debate in your area and take action. Here is a link to contact your representatives' offices and here is one to tweet them!

3) Blog about it! This blog started as a way for me to stay connected to the campaign community when I thought I was sitting out last cycle (ha!). It became a way to for me to share my thoughts, best practices, etc. I want this to be a forum for discussion on what can be an esoteric topic. I am sure you have things you'd like to share too. If you are interested in guest blogging, or you'd like me to link to a blog or article you already have set up, just let me know!

4) Volunteer! You know you want to and I'll just keep calling you if you don't! has great ways to get involved in your community and of course OFA!

5) Join the Club! Stay connected with a group like the Young Democrats of America. Their website is down right now, but you can find your state chapter through a quick google search.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

PCPB- A National Epidemic

Post Campaign Physical Breakdown. A phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.

Symptoms include: lethargy, sore muscles, cold-like symptoms, hang-over like symptoms and a refusal to talk on the phone.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Reflection

Please Press Play

To those of us who won last night: Congratulations! Watching people I love win races I've worked on is one of the best feelings in the world!

To those of us who didn't: I know that feeling too, and it sucks. Like any heartache, it will take time to heal, but I hope you can take solace in knowing that you left it all on the field.

And to all of my friends who worked on races across the country: I am incredibly proud of the work we've done together these past four years, regardless of yesterday's outcomes, and grateful every day to be a part of such an extraordinary community of people. I look forward to celebrating many victories with you in the future.

I love you guys a whole, whole lot...and now, some sleep.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bridgeport is CRUSHING it!

Vote for Mr. Rhythm

Sing it, Ella!

Duck On Water

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about GOTV is that "you should be like a duck on water." Under the surface you may be paddling furiously, but for the world to see you just glide along and let things roll off your back.

For all the ways in which this GOTV is eerily similar to the one I ran four years ago in Minnesota (more on that later) one thing has changed: I don't freak out. I don't. This was news to my first boss who was reminiscing last night about the time I bit someone's head off the night before the election, and believe me, I can breakdown with the best of 'em, but the truth is it's just not productive.

The BEST lesson I have learned from campaigns is that sometimes the most worthwhile thing you can do to contribute to an operation is to simply be reasonable. This seems obvious, but its a rare individual who can be the calm among the storm. So here are my rules for being a Duck on Water during GOTV:

1) Be an Indian. Everyone wants to be running the show, and good field people are protective of their operation, but sometimes the best thing you can contribute in the chaos is to be the person sticking labels on doorhangers or putting together walk packets, even if this is generally below your pay grade.

2) Don't ask questions.
Everyone is tired and stressed out, and sometimes silly calls will be made. Like the FD who asked me to send him a spreadsheet with the number 5 next to every polling place for the number of yardsigns being deployed. Obviously if a BIG mistake is about to be made, you should stop it, but sometimes it's better to let the little stuff slide, even if it isn't what would happen if everyone had more sleep.

3) Don't take it personally. We all care deeply about electing Democrats. Under pressure and with very little sleep, people WILL snap at you. You are my hero if every single time you can say to yourself "its not me, its just GOTV."

4) Put people on hold. Prepare for multiple, simultaneous, demands on your time. Learn how to communicate that "your issue is important to me and you are on my radar, I will be with you in five minutes."

5) Over thank. This includes fellow staff members. No one knows what your coworkers are going through better than you. Town committee chairs, activists and candidates will forget to thank them this week. Everyone will appreciate if you are the exception. Bonus points if you bring them coffee.

Look forward to more Eday updates!