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:
- Indeed.com – Currently lists over 15,000 political jobs
- Craig Roberts’ Job Distribution List – Great resource for Capitol Hill and Washington, DC-centric jobs
- Political Jobs – Many UK and global political positions
- Taegan Goddard’s Political Job Hunt – Wide range of U.S. jobs from internships to chiefs of staff.