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I'd Like to Work In Politics
I'd like to work in Politics.

That’s a sentence we hear a lot. When we ask "doing what,” we very often get a blank stare for an answer. Or, our favorite reply: "I’d like to work on policy.”

Beginning or continuing a career in "politics” can be a little tricky, especially if no one has ever sat you down and fully explained your options and what they all mean.

Well, fear not. Democratic GAIN is here to help. Just think of us as your own personal mentor.

We think it’s helpful to look at the different areas politics in terms of "bubbles” – there’s the "Advocacy (Issue) Bubble” the "Legislative (Hill) Bubble” and the "Electoral (Campaign) Bubble.” With Democrats holding the White House, we can add in there the "Administration Bubble” – but that is so specialized that we won’t spend too much time focusing on it here.

The one thing you will learn if you start asking senior level political professionals about their career path is that more often than not individuals rarely stay within one bubble. Most tend to move around among them in order to stay employed, grow their skills and become more valuable and well-rounded professionals.

So, what does that mean for you?

Well, first of all, there’s no bad job in politics. So, if you had your heart set on working in environmental advocacy, but someone on an electoral campaign offers you a job…take the job! Not only will you gain valuable experience – full of directly translatable skills – but you will be able to start building a network of professionals who can then help you find a position with one of the environmental groups after the election (assuming you’ve done a good job in your position on the campaign, of course).

Secondly, since none of the bubbles can exist without the others, and because they are all so interwoven, no matter what you do, you really are gaining skills and experiences that will directly translate into the other bubbles. Advocating on behalf of your candidate, is the same as advocating on behalf of your issue, is the same as advocating on behalf of your elected official…right?

Now, while the above is true, there are also many successful political professionals who started in one bubble, and stayed there. Starting and staying in one bubble is also a great way to forge a very successful career. But, because most people tend to think that’s the only way to forge a career – and that couldn’t be further from the truth – we’d like to focus on the interconnectivity of the bubbles.


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