Political Jobs Provide Experience and Network for Future Public Relations Careers


During a visit to Washington, DC last week, I was struck by the large number of young people working in every part of government.  I met several recent college graduates, some of whom were public relations majors.  A few had been there long enough to become cynical, but most were loving every aspect of their political jobs.  I also learned that, unlike the rest of the economy, the political process is still in the hiring mode. 

While you might think a political job would be a detour to your desired career goals, it actually can become a stepping stone to the job you want.  I worked in political campaigns throughout my college career and eventually moved into three full-time political jobs where I was exposed to most aspects of public relations.  My last political job provided the springboard to my first corporate PR gig.  

As this blog mentioned during the last election cycle, you can gain experience in local campaigns by simply contacting candidates’ offices.  Most local campaigns rely on volunteers, but only a few members of the campaign team are paid.  However, campaign experience helps build your resume.  Several friends gained valuable experience and a resume boost by volunteering on the 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns, and some already have joined campaigns for candidates in next year’s race.  You can become a volunteer on many campaigns by simply signing up on websites, but I recommend making a personal appearance (with your resume) at campaign headquarters.  Also stop at elected officials’ offices –local, state and national — since they may be looking for office volunteers and staff. 

You also can get a good idea about the types of  political jobs that relate to your PR career goals by checking out job listings on these excellent political job sites:

7 thoughts on “Political Jobs Provide Experience and Network for Future Public Relations Careers

  1. Would you mind sharing about how many hours a week you worked on these campaigns during college? Do you think that volunteering at them while working a paid job in college is feasible?

  2. The political world these days is out of control. I think that some young fresh perspective is the way to work efficiently and create solutions to these problems. When I picture goverment I picture a bunch of middle ages gentlement arguing in a room. This is not what our goverment should be. It should be our friends, neighbors and peers representing us honestly and happily.

  3. I think what has deterred me most from seeking any kind of political volunteer opportunity, internship, or career is simply my lack of a developed knowledge in politics. I hate admitting it, but I just can’t keep up with “politics.” I guess I could step out of my comfort box and just volunteer on an event and see if it strikes my interest!

  4. Interesting post. I wouldn’t have thought working or volunteering in a political campaign could provide such a good stepping stone for a career in PR. I would be a little afraid that identifying my political affiliations by working for a candidate could potentially be harmful when looking for corporate jobs. Have you found that this happens much, or at all?

  5. College students are oh so often put in positions where their talents and resources are utilized and put to the best of use while not being paid for. My case in point being many internships that seek college students out and are not paid for their efforts. For example, I had an internship with an up and coming social media website that was testing in it’s beta stage. My supervisor expected the same level of work from me that she would from a paid professional. Simply put, I was not motivated to complete the work due to the lack of funding for my efforts. Internships and jobs in the political career world can sometimes be the same as this blog post stated.

  6. In the 2012 election, I completed two unpaid internships with successful political campaigns–one for U.S. Congress and one for a statewide office. This summer, I would like to intern again, but this time I am looking for an internship in the entertainment industry. Do you think my political background will be an advantage when applying, since I have obtained excellent references and experience? Or, is it possible I will not be considered because I lack experience working in entertainment? As Kristin M. said, I am also concerned that identifying my political affiliation could be a disadvantage. What is your opinion?

    Jill Irvin
    Southeast Missouri State University

    1. Jill: Glad you’ve been involved in politics. This experience won’t gain you much ground in the entertainment industry unless you identify the firms that may have similar political points of view. You might want to read the blog post today from the University of Alabama’s Platform Magazine since it discusses ways to improve your chances of landing a PR job in the entertainment industry.

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