Project Wonderful

Monday, November 12, 2012

What's Next II: Post Election FAQs

Hello and welcome back! I hope by now you've had some whiskey, sleep, shower, sex or whatever gets you feeling like a person again. Thank you for respecting my brief, but thoroughly enjoyed recuperation period. I got to do birthday karaoke, sleep for 18 hours straight and finally (after a year and a half) begin decorating my win! Congratulations again to everyone-especially OFA Florida, talk about a field win, huh? But more on that later. For now, down to business.

I'm totally happy to answer all your post-election job finding questions, and if I don't know the answer, committed to finding someone who can. All I ask is that you read what I've already written before you ask. This helps me get to your questions more quickly and also makes me feel appreciated. So in that vein, please read this post on general job seeky resources and advice as well as the following FAQ's before submitting your question. And awaaaaay we go!

I have only worked in state/on local campaigns, but I want to branch out and work out of state/on federal campaigns. How do I make the transition?

Networking. That's going to be my first answer to a lot of these, so you should imagine "networking" before my answer to all the other questions. I lumped these two together because they have been asked together as well as individually and the answers overlap as well. If you want to get out of state OR go federal, get in touch with the DS (Democratic Senate Committee) or the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). If you're looking to work in Virginia or New Jersey in the "off year" (and I would humbly suggest that you consider coming to New York City as well) get in touch with a specific candidate and/or the DLCC, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee or a powerful endorsing organization, like EMILY's List, and let them know. I think there's a myth among people who have only worked within their state that it's very difficult to get a job as an out-of-stater. While in-staters may be preferable for a number of reasons, validation, local connections, knowledge of the area, you can easily overcome this barrier and find something out of state if that's what you desire.

I worked for a Republican in the past, but I want to work for Democrats. Will that hinder my chances?

Potentially, but you can work through it. People tend to want to hire people who remind them of themselves (a phenomenon pertinent to many of these scenarios) so that's a potential hurdle. In addition, many of us, especially those who have been partisan hacks for a long time, will have trouble seeing how someone can have Republican values one year and Democratic the next, and may question your motives or loyalty. The good news is since you know that, you can address it in a cover letter. Briefly explain why you worked for a member of a different party in the past--personal relationship, exceptional candidate, one party is the only game in town--and what skills and experiences are applicable to what you want to do now. In addition, if you are able, get an outside validator (someone you already know who knows those people) from within the Democratic party who can vouch for you to the campaign to which you're applying.

Will you post jobs/take resumes?

I will post jobs from organizations and people I already have a relationship with, but in general there are so many great websites that aggregate progressive job postings already that I don't feel the need to reinvent the wheel. You can find some of those organizations listed here. For the same reason, I am not collecting resumes, save for those from people with whom I have a prior relationship.

I want to work on the Hill. How do I do that?

I am not the best person to ask because I have never and probably will never have the urge to work on Capitol Hill. I will likely move to DC in May kicking and screaming. So, if you are a person who has gone from campaigns to Congress, I invite you to write in and share some advice. What I do know is it's hard. That's not to say you can't do it, just know there will be a lot of competition and it may not happen right away. Here is what I've seen work for people in the past. If you want to work in Washington, you should move to DC. The circular truth is that to get Hill experience, you often need Hill experience. So,even if it means taking an unpaid internship in a Congressional office and bartending until something opens up, you should do that. They say that DC is like Hollywood for ugly people and I think that's pretty apt. Just imagine hundreds of little organizers just like you wandering around resume in hand.

In addition, you should network your glittery little heart out (there's that word again). Talk to your Senators and Representatives, anyone you know who has connections to current Representatives and Senators, and the staff of any Senators or Representatives whom you helped elect. Don't just ask about their offices, but their colleagues' as well. Find out which members are newly elected and thus might be looking for staff. Think about how you might have a connection to their geographic area or issues of interest. Tom Manatos is a good source for job openings on Capitol Hill.

This was my first time working on a campaign, am I a candidate for a leadership (RFD) position next cycle?

That really depends. Sometimes when people say "working" on a campaign they mean volunteering (not to diminish the great work our volunteers do) and even "volunteering" can mean anything from putting out yard signs to working full time side by side with staff. Organizing can be similarly varied. Were you a deputy field organizer for two weeks or were you the first on the ground in your area organizing for a year? Very, very generally people are organizers for two cycles before they become Regionals on a statewide or Field Directors on Congressionals, but it varies widely in both directions and of course you could always switch departments.

I love this job, but how can I afford to do it all the time?

Some great advice on the subject from my friend, Ed, here. Also, supporter housing.

I feel like crap (physically).

Sleep it off, champ! That's totally normal. Your body was running on adrenaline toward the end of the campaign and now you're coming down, so give yourself a little time to recover. Plus if you were in bumblecrunch Texas like I was, you probably started to bleed fried chicken, so maybe get some exercise and a nice home cooked meal.

I miss campaigns! I am trying to relax but I am so lonely! How can I go back to normal life? How do you deal with this feeling?

That's why I started this blog!

Good Luck! Now that you have read these answers thoroughly, feel free to ask away. Look forward to information on career fairs and how to write a good campaign resume, plus back to our regularly scheduled programming all coming up soon!


1 comment:

  1. Regarding working on the Hill, most hill staffers I know (which is a terribly small amount, so, you know, grain of salt) got hired from the Congress-person's campaign. So, work on that congressional race in your home state, kick ass, and see if you get invited to join the staff in DC (and definitely make it known that that's something you'd be interested in!).