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Interview with Marlon Marshall

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Marlon Marshall currently serves as the National Field Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)

Prior to that, Marlon served as the Deputy White House Liaison to the State Department.

Marshall has been actively involved with Democratic politics by working in the field for a
number of state house races, a U.S. Senate race and the 2004 Kerry Presidential campaign
Missouri and Ohio. More recently, Marshall served as Field Director in several key states for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. He then went on to serve as the General Election Director in Missouri for Obama for America.  Marlon is a native of St. Louis, attended the University of Kansas, and now lives in Washington, DC.

1. Describe your job
I am responsible for managing a team of Regional Field Directors who  support our Democratic Congressional campaign's field programs, while overseeing the design and implementation of all aspects of the DCCC's national field program.
2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
I began by getting involved in local politics in Kansas prior to the 2004 presidential election.  I was fortunate to come across a Democratic GAIN field training in Detroit in 2004, which led me to a position as a field organizer for the Kerry Campaign in Missouri during the general election.  While there I got hooked.  I loved the idea that I could help get Democrats elected and effect real change in my community and my country.  Ever since I have been jumping from campaign to campaign doing what I can to elect Democrats to office.

3. What are the three most important skills for success in politics?

  • Discipline:  You must be able to do what needs to be done and be held accountable to your goals and what is needed of you
  • Hard-working:  You have to be able to deal with the long hours, low pay and hard work.  If you're not, that doesn't make you a bad person, just not a good fit for politics.
  • Adaptability:  You must be constantly able to react to what's happening and change your path accordingly.  Plans change, you must too. 
4. When you're hiring, is there anything in particular on a resume that makes you pick up the phone to schedule an interview? Is there anything that gets the resume tossed into the circular file post-haste?
The overall tone of a resume is important.  Resumes are where you summarize your professional accomplishments, not where you brag about what a great person you are (GPA, college clubs, organizations you donate to, etc.).  I care about action verbs ("oversaw", "participated in", "organized") that describe what you accomplished in your prior jobs and what you will bring to the table.  I'm not so concerned about the mundane tasks you did everyday.  Explain why you made a real difference because you were in that particular job and not anyone else. 

5. What would be your first next step if you were looking for a job in the progressive political world today?
Honestly, I would make sure my resume was posted and public on Democratic GAIN.  I tell everyone I meet about GAIN and I know most organizations in politics look to their job board and resume database when hiring.  There are other listservs - jobsthatareleft, Emily's List - that I would also get on.  But don't just rely on posted jobs - make sure you are using your network and getting yourself in front of people. 

6. Do you have any parting thoughts that haven't been covered?
Always remember to show your passion.  You have to have passion to work and be successful in politics.  This isn't just a job - it's a calling.  You let your passion be known by being committed to doing what's needed to get the job done, by being a great team player and knowing it's not about you, it’s about the work that you’re doing to change the world.   Give it all you've got all day, everyday.

Tags:  career advice 

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