Campaigns and firms are now experiencing the same hiring challenges as other industries. Part of that has to do with the ongoing disruption caused by COVID, but the industry also faces a unique hurdle when it comes to nurturing talent. Namely, after campaigns wrap up former staffers aren’t making the transition up to a firm the way they once did. In many cases, they’re walking away from the industry altogether.
I’m here with a plea to consider sticking around. Speaking for firm owners, we need you. With the 2021 elections now behind us, and less than a year to go until the 2022 midterm elections, now is the perfect time for young staffers to explore working at a consulting firm.
Even the most ardent campaign junkies don’t want to knock on doors their entire career. Taking some time off the trail and joining a firm can give young staffers a more holistic view of the many facets of a successful campaign and give them a look at what a career in campaign politics could look like.
After a grueling few months on a campaign, many staffers may be looking for a break from eating fast food, working out of their cars, and having an out-of-sync work-life balance. Most consulting firms can offer more stability while fueling that fire to make change and elect great candidates.
When I joined a presidential campaign out of college as a field organizer, I knew very little about the consulting team that was leading our campaign. I knew what a pollster was, but just thought it was data crunching. I knew we had a media consultant, but didn’t fully understand those roles until I grew into more senior roles on campaigns. Seeing those specific roles closer up may have changed my trajectory and place on campaigns.
Any young staffer looking at a long-term career in politics should join a firm in the run-up to the midterm elections.
Whether joining a polling firm as a junior analyst, a mail firm as a production assistant, or a fundraising firm as a call-time manager, going to work at a firm can expose young staffers to the possibilities of a long-term career in campaign politics. At the same time, it could help them better understand more roles on campaigns, and introduce them to potential mentors.
Cycle after cycle, the talent pool shrinks. The upper echelons of the Democratic consulting ranks become more bare as staffers leave the campaign world seeking more stable jobs. Young staffers looking to make a difference in 2022 should seriously consider opportunities at a firm before packing up their air mattresses and hitting the road for another race — or another industry.
Nick Daggers is a co-founding partner at the 1833 Group, an award winning consulting firm that provides general and fundraising services to Democratic campaigns nationwide. He’s been a political fundraiser for over a decade and was named to the AAPC 40 Under 40 list for 2020.