Project Wonderful

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ask An Election Nerd: What's Next?

A tumblr follower asks, "What exactly do people on campaigns do after the election is over? After all, in most states (VA, MS, NJ excepted) you have about six months to a year before the next cycle starts to take shape."

I've been getting this question A LOT lately. I'm gonna start off by asking "What is wrong with you people?!?!" When I was on campaigns I never thought about what I would do afterwards because I was so focused on election day. So my first piece of advice is "Don't worry about it!" You have enough stressing you out now that you don't need to worry about the (stressful) job search after.

I was also able to relax because when EMILY's List placed me on my first campaign in 2006, they promised me that I would have access to their network and that they would help me find a job post-election. One of my absolute favorite things about the progressive campaign community is that more so than in any other field I know, we go out of our way to support each other. I am a huge proponent of mentorship and sponsorship and I have found that if you do good work campaign people will bend over backwards to help you because they know what you've been through and they appreciate the kind of work ethic that it takes. Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere and I, as I bet your boss and her boss and her boss are, am committed to helping hard working campaign folk find gainful employment.

I would challenge your assessment of campaign opportunities in the off year. There are certainly fewer jobs available than during a Presidential campaign, but fewer people are interested in taking them. There will be recounts, issue based campaigns, special elections and all of manner of things to keep us campaign nerds occupied.

There are also a myriad of opportunities in related fields. Many former operatives go off to seek their fortunes on the legislative side of government (shudder) either in DC or locally. Others go to work for non-profits that focus on the issues that got them involved in campaigns in the first place. A fair number, like yours truly, eventually go back to school. This is not to say you cannot do something else completely. Being an organizer, finance assistance or other campaign worker trains you in time management, marketing, customer service, crisis control and occasionally as a copy machine repair person. If you do want to go into a field where your employer will likely be unfamiliar with the skills built on the campaign trail, be sure you have a clear vision of what you want to do and are able to articulate how your experiences will make you an asset.

If you do want to remain in the professional progressive community, on campaigns or otherwise, I encourage you to network through your campaign contacts. You'd be surprised what a small world we travel in and how much a recommendation from a mutual broworker can open doors. Here are some other resources for you to consider:

EMILY's List Job Bank
Democratic Gain (Which is already advertising that it will help with post-campaign employment)
Tom Manatos (Especially good for, but not limited to, searching for jobs on the Hill.)
NOI Jobs Board (Non-Profit Jobs)

I also want to encourage you to take some time off if you're able. Unlike certain Presidential candidates, I realize that not everybody has the luxury of going home to their parents' house and vegging out for a month or so, but if you do I highly recommend it.

I hope I've assuaged your apprehension. Now stop worrying about this can get back on the phones! We have an election to win!


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