Career Conversation: On the Campaign Trail

Career Conversation: On the Campaign Trail
Career Conversation: On the Campaign Trail

The 2020 presidential campaign season is in full swing, and the Institute of Politics’ Internships and Career Services program recently hosted an event for students to learn more about life and work on the campaign trail. The event featured Teddy Landis (College ‘20), Damian Richardson (College ‘20), and recent graduate, Shreeya Panigrahi (College ‘19). Landis, Richardson, and Panigrahi shared their experiences working on Democratic presidential primary campaigns in New Hampshire this past summer and offered advice to students interested in pursuing campaign work in the future. Although their experiences and advice were many and varied, here are a few key takeaways. 

Volunteer early and often to learn if campaign work is right for you. If you’re interested in working on a campaign, make time to volunteer for the campaign. Canvassing, text and phone banking, and hosting house parties are just a few of the many ways to volunteer for a campaign. To get started, visit campaign websites for detailed information on volunteer opportunities and resources, or get in contact with students who are leading organizing efforts on campus. As you gain volunteer experience, you will forge relationships with campaign staff at field offices and events, which can be helpful for learning about upcoming opportunities when applying to campaign jobs and internships.  

There are many paths to getting a job on a campaign. The path to obtaining a job or internship on a campaign can be long, winding, and difficult to navigate. In addition to volunteering for campaigns that interest you, a great initial step is to submit your resume online to the resume-drop portal on a campaign website. Landis, Richardson, and Panagrahi also emphasized the value of leveraging your network to find out about by reaching out to friends and colleagues who are working on a campaign of interest to you or who might be able to connect you with campaign staff. These relationships can be very helpful for learning about new job opportunities and for opportunities that may not be posted online. Most importantly, have patience with the process.  

There are many candidates but not necessarily one “right” candidate. Landis worked on Elizabeth Warren’s campaign. Richardson worked on Kamala Harris’s campaign. And Panagrahi is currently working on Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. Although Landis, Richardson, and Panigrahi chose different candidates, they shared strong feelings of enthusiasm and personal investment in their chosen candidate. Recognizing that choosing a candidate and campaign for which to work is a very personal decision, it’s important to make sure that you choose a candidate for whom you feel passionate and energized. One way to make sure that you’re choosing the right candidate for you is to go up to New Hampshire and either see them in person or volunteer for their campaign to see if you identify with their message and platform. 

With over 12 months remaining until the 2020 Elections, there are plenty of future opportunities to learn more about campaign work, volunteer, and join a campaign! If you’re interested in working on a campaign or politics and public service more generally, don’t hesitate to contact the Internships and Career Services program at the Institute of Politics and keep an eye out for our upcoming events on the Institute of Politics website calendar and Facebook events page.