Many staffers at the moment are sitting on the Hill wishing they were on a campaign. Being stuck so far from the action can be frustrating, but if you’re in D.C., jumping on a 2016 race is easier than you may think. In fact, it’s an attainable goal.
If you’re thinking about a presidential race, know the hours are long, and sleep is nonexistent. For that reason, it’s important to work for someone you truly believe in. Working for someone you think is just fine, won’t be as rewarding when you’re running on three hours of rest.
If you’re sure you want to join a 2016 race, hop on Facebook and LinkedIn to see if you know someone working for a candidate. People switch jobs frequently in this industry, so you never know if your friend at the NRCC is now working for Marco Rubio. Or if your friend’s girlfriend who was working in Harry Reid’s Senate office is now doing communications for Martin O’Malley’s campaign.
Send them an email and ask if they can connect you to the right person on the campaign, just so you can send your resume in for consideration. Include a line about why you’d like to work for, say, Mike Huckabee—or maybe Jeb!—and what kind of work you’d like to do for them. Are you interested in field, finance, communications or digital? Be clear in your approach.
Moreover, it’s important to let them know that you really believe in the candidate, but not so much that you’d be happy being undervalued. If you say you’d be willing to do anything, even outside your expertise, you might be considered for a volunteer position instead of a job. If you can’t pay the bills, it’s harder to advocate for your principles.
If you don’t know anybody on the campaign you’re interested in, think of someone you know who might know somebody. Was your friend heavily involved in Vermont politics? Does he have Bernie Sanders connections? Or did your co-worker once work for a member who was on the same committee as Rand Paul?
You may not think you know anyone close to the campaign of your choice, but you probably do. Even if not, just email the generic campaign account noting you’d love to join up, and attach your resume. People do check that inbox.
Don’t rule out Senate or congressional campaigns either. Presidential campaigns absorb a lot of talent, so Senate and congressional campaigns have difficulty finding good staff. Use the methods above, or reach out to the party committees and let them know you’re looking to jump on a campaign.
You definitely know someone who works at a committee — or at least someone who knows someone who works at a committee — and they’ll be glad to have another resume at their disposal.
For senatorial and congressional campaigns, you can also reach out to state parties, or other more local resources. These candidates only need votes within one state or part of a state, so the people who can help you most will be in that state. Candidates usually work closely with state and local parties, and they can connect you.
Just consider your options, and be happy with what you decide. Otherwise come winter you might be staring out the window wondering, what if?
Shoshana Weissmann is web producer for The Weekly Standard, and has worked on numerous campaigns.