#WaysWeGAIN Membership Spotlight: Nicholas Paul
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Posted by: Tara Bardella
Nicholas and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.
Here at Democratic GAIN, connecting people to opportunities in the progressive organizing space is at the top of the agenda. Our membership is the heart of our organization - and is why we organize. So whenever we hear about one of our members getting a really cool opportunity at one of our Friend of GAIN organizations, our day is made!
Nicholas Paul is one of these people. Nicholas found the listing for his current position - Election and Advocacy Fellow at RESULTS Educational Fund - on our jobs board. When he’s not getting selfies with Hillary Clinton or offering up inspirational quotes, he’s hitting the ground running in key battleground states like New Hampshire and Iowa, helping RESULTS make sure presidential contenders on both sides of the aisle take a stand on pivotal global health issues, as well as the eradication of poverty here in America and around the world.
Team GAIN had the opportunity to chat with Nick recently. We’ve included some highlights from our conversation below.
Check out RESULTS.org for more great opportunities like the one we connected Nick with -- and if you will be in D.C. on Thursday January 21st, you can catch Nick’s boss, RESULTS Senior Advocacy and Organizing Associate Carly Pildis, who will be presenting at our very first resume workshop of 2016 at AFSCME! RSVP here.
Stay tuned for more #WaystoGAIN from Democratic GAIN, coming soon!
- Team GAIN
1. Tell us a little more about yourself? (Hometown, where you went to school, how you got interested in organizing?)
Well, I'm 26 years old. I was born and raised in Concord, NH. I went to high school here and am currently a student at our community college, New Hampshire Technical Institute which has been a great experience for me. I intend to transfer to a four-year university some time next year to pursue degrees in political science and public policy economics.
When I was in third grade I was selected to be a kid reporter for Scholastic News. I got to attend an outdoor joint town hall on a bitterly cold day in Claremont, NH featuring Senator John McCain and former Senator Bill Bradley on campaign finance reform and cover the event for the magazine. I was lucky enough to ask a question and meet the candidates. Ever since, I've been fascinated with politics (both process and policy). The opportunity to work in organizing and advocacy is just something I feel I'm meant to do with my life.
2. What are you currently doing for RESULTS?
I'm an Election and Advocacy Fellow, consulting here in New Hampshire in the run up to the Primary as a part of a brand new program in which RESULTS is putting resources into early primary states for what I understand is the first time. My responsibilities can be grouped under two major categories: 1. Engage presidential candidates from both parties on the campaign trail in order to secure policy commitments on our priority issues and; 2. Organize in local communities with the ultimate goal of starting RESULTS' first volunteer advocacy group with a focus on issues related to global poverty in NH.
3. When did you come on board at RESULTS?
I accepted my position with RESULTS in July, just before our annual international conference in DC.
4. What experience(s) at RESULTS have stood out to you most so far - and why?
There have been many and it's difficult to pick just one but the thing that perhaps has struck me most about my time with RESULTS is the overwhelming enthusiasm and passion I've witnessed from quite literally every person to whom I've been introduced that works for this organization, from intern to board member. The fact that it's so genuine and so pervasive makes me feel that I'm a part of something very special and it it motivates me to be better at my job.
5. We understand that you found your current role via GAIN’s jobs board. What stood out to you about that particular listing and/or the kinds of opportunities we feature vs. other sites/listings you may have utilized in your job search?
I did. I checked GAIN at least weekly since my field director at NextGen Climate, where I previously worked, suggested it during the 2014 cycle. I firmly believe that every single person alive wants to realize their full potential and if given the opportunity, will do so. Removing obstacles to opportunity not only enriches the lives of individuals, it builds the foundations for healthier, more prosperous communities. It was immediately apparent to me that RESULTS understood that and shared that worldview from the work they do alone but I can confidently say there is no way I would have learned about this opportunity without GAIN.
Young political operatives, for lack of a better term, especially those who have yet to earn their degrees are far from inundated with job opportunities in the fields they're passionate about and there aren't many tools that allow them to seek out those opportunities. Because GAIN exists, I'm able to pursue my degree, make my living, and build my resume simultaneously. I can't overstate what a valuable service that is and expect it to pay dividends in the future.
6. What is your favorite thing about your current role/working with RESULTS?
Do selfies with Hillary Clinton count? Interacting with the candidates is great and it's exciting but my favorite moments are exclusively with members of our community who have taken an interest in advocacy and in RESULTS. We have volunteers who have lived the issues we work on and the opportunity to work with them on a day-to-day basis, getting them involved in the process is exceptionally rewarding.
I think grassroots activism is the way to get things done in this country now, the big things. It's quite a moment when you get a presidential candidate to say the word "yes" but what I'm going to look back on when I think about my time with RESULTS are the people who are now better equipped to really seize their stake in our democracy, people who will keep fighting the fights that need to be fought for years to come. That's the long-term value in this work and it's why I love doing this.
7. Do you see yourself working in the field of organizing in your career, long term?
Without question. I think many of us have relinquished our stake in government and when we do that, the vacuum is filled by moneyed interests. The result is gridlock and stagnation which, perhaps ironically, is exactly what people are upset about when they think about government.
It's not enough to change someone's mind anymore. You have to get them to do something, to act. I can't think of a better way to spend my time and energy and I'm looking forward to what future opportunities in this field might hold for me and the issues I care about.
8. What advice would you give applicants who may be searching for an opportunity in the progressive organizing space but may not be sure where to start?
Visit Democratic GAIN for a start, but beyond that I would urge people to do two things. The first is to not be turned off by a good volunteer opportunity even if what you're really looking for is a paid position. People don't necessarily view volunteer work as a resume builder or, just as valuable, a networking opportunity and they're flat wrong about that. If it's work you're passionate about, find time for it. It will pay off, one way or another. The second is to go ahead and apply for any job you really want, even if you think it might be a stretch. If you feel you can do the job and you really want it, you might just be able to convince them of that too. The risk -reward ratio in that scenario is heavily in your favor.
9. Any interview tips for these applicants?
Everybody has something that works best for them. What has been most effective for me is to not be afraid to really demonstrate my enthusiasm. This is sometimes a rather thankless line of work to be in and because of that, everybody wants colleagues who truly believe in the work they're doing. It won't work every time but I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that most people would prefer to hire someone who comes across as articulate and passionate with a short resume than someone who is supremely qualified and lacks those qualities.You just have to be ready to deliver on that when the time comes.
10. If you had to pick a personal quote or motto that has inspired you/you “live by”, what would it be, who/what from- and why?
"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one." - Marcus Aurelius
The quote speaks for itself but I've found that most everybody has good intentions. We all believe in something. I think that any time you realize that your intentions and your opinions are not enough to validate you as a positive force in the world, that represents a potential starting point for an opportunity to live a better life and to serve others. We can even disagree about what "good" is. It's my hope, though, that if we're all working toward an ideal, we'll come up with something pretty remarkable and to our collective benefit.