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More Employers sign up for Career Fair

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Tuesday, January 5, 2010
More employers have signed up to attend Democratic GAIN's Career Fair!
They're hiring NOW for campaigns, non-profits, issue advocacy, labor organizing, consulting firms, and more!

Check out our current list -- growing every day:
  • Democracy for America
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • Democratic Governors Association
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • EMILY’s List
  • FieldWorks
  • Field Strategies
  • Grassroots Campaigns
  • Mammen Group
  • National Education Association
  • Organizing for America
  • Parkside Group
  • SEIU
  • Winning Connections
Haven't signed up for the Career Fair yet?  Register today!

Tags:  career fair  employers  get a job  job seeking  jobs 

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GAIN Career Fair!

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Thursday, December 17, 2009
Democratic GAIN is pleased to announce that we will be hosting a CAREER FAIR on Friday, January 22nd in Washington, DC.  This is a great opportunity for you to find your next job opportunity in politics!

We have already confirmed these top employers:
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • Democratic Governors Association
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • EMILY’s List
  • National Education Association
  • Organizing for America
  • SEIU
Of course, as more and more employers confirm their attendance at the Career Fair, we will keep you posted!

Want to come?  Here’s what to do:

First, register online. If you’re a GAIN member, the Career Fair is just $10 (you must be logged in to get your discount!).  For non-members, the Career Fair is $20.  You must pick one session to attend – morning or afternoon. 

Second, be sure to update your profile at  Make sure all of your employment information is up to date and that you have uploaded your resume.  Often, employers will search our resume database without posting a job publicly.

Third, attend one of our resume workshops to make sure your resume will get noticed at the Career Fair!

Career Fair participants will also receive a free ticket to GAIN’s Networking Happy Hour on Thursday, January 21st at SEIU.  And, at the Career Fair, you can sign up to receive one-on-one career assistance and advice from political veterans.

Again, GAIN members receive a 50% discount!  Not a GAIN member?  This is the perfect time to join!

Tags:  career fair  employers  get a job  job seeking  jobs 

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Using the Holidays for Networking

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Monday, November 30, 2009
The holidays can be a depressing time to be a job seeker, as employers tend not to post jobs between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  Don't get too down though -- this is a terrific time to network and expand your list of contacts.

Holiday parties aren't just for fruit cake and cocktails; they are for collecting business cards.  Ask around about any upcoming events that are open to non-employees and GO!  Come armed with business cards (make your own at home if you're not currently employed) and pass them out like it's your job -- 'cause it is!  When you receive someone's business card, be sure to write down where you met them and anything noteworthy that you discussed.  Ask if you can send a follow up email or take them to coffee in the near future.

Don't be embarrassed about being unemployed or looking for a job -- we've all been there and chances are, people are more than happy to help.  Tell one and all what you are looking to do next.  Make sure you have your sales pitch down; nothing is more important than selling yourself!  Be as specific as possible.  For instance, saying, I want to work in development for an advocacy organization will give people a lot more to work with than just saying, I want to get in to fundraising.

Finally, use holiday cards to your advantage.  They are a great way to stay in touch with old contacts and to keep your name on the forefront of someone's mind.  A simple, "Hope to see you in the New Year" will suffice for getting back in touch.

Tags:  career advice  career development  get a job  job advice  job search  job seeking  networking  networking event 

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Interview with John Alex Golden

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Monday, November 16, 2009
Our latest interview in the Bubbles of Working in Politics series is with John Alex Golden.  When most people think about working for a legislator, they think of working on Capitol Hill.  Although there are lots of opportunities to get legislative experience in D.C., there are also tons of opportunities working for state legislators in state capitols around the country.  John Alex is Legislative Aide to Delegate David Englin of Virginia.  Read more about his experiences and check out the rest of our series.

1) Please give us a quick biography. Touch on how you got your first job in politics and why you decided to stick with politics as a profession.

I grew up around Washington, DC, so politics was fairly pervasive growing up. One of my earliest political memories was sitting with my Dad to watch CSPAN when I was 14, as the House voted on a part of the Telecommunications Act that he'd helped write. I got active in campaigns when I went to college when I joined the JMU College Democrats. We volunteered on a number of campaigns, including the local House of Delegates race in Harrisonburg. I did some internships when I was back in DC each summer, but got my first big break working for Congressman Jim Moran, first as an intern after graduation and then getting hired as his Staff Assistant.

I took a lot of time off to work on state and local campaigns around northern Virginia while working on the Hill, and really enjoyed being a part of both the legislative side and the campaign side of things. A few years ago, Delegate David Englin gave me the opportunity to do both working as his legislative aide and helping run his year-round grassroots campaign operation in Alexandria, and it's been a fantastic experience.

2) Did you begin your career thinking that the state legislature was where you wanted to end up?

Not at all. Growing up around DC, there was such a focus on the federal government (even in the local news) that it was easy to overlook anything at the state level, and when I started on the Hill, I assumed I would stick around there for a while. I'm really glad I ended up at the state-level, though. Working on the Hill was an incredible experience, but the state legislature has the ability to make an immediate and meaningful impact on the every day lives of the people who live here in Virginia. 

3) What do you like most and hate most about it?

I love the legislative session. In 45-60 days we have to get through 3,000 bills. The schedule creates an incredible bonding experience with other legislative aides (and legislators!), and it forces you to focus on what's going to have an immediate and positive impact on your constituents. I’d say the only thing I dislike right now is not being in the majority, but we’re going to keep working on that!

4) In general, do you recommend starting a successful legislative career on a political campaign or rather beginning a career at the legislature at the entry-level?

I think that’s going to depend a lot on personal preference, and either one can lead you to a very successful legislative career. That being said, working on a campaign is such a unique experience, and I think everyone should try it, even if it’s just on a volunteer basis while working another job. It’s some of the hardest work you’ll ever do, but the rewards are more than worth it.

5) Should one have a different approach to looking on the State Senate vs. the House of Delegates?  What are the major differences between the two bodies when it comes to working there?

Since it’s a smaller body that’s only up for re-election every four years, you have more time to develop relationships in the Senate. There’s not nearly as much turnover as you have in the House, so building up strong friends on an issue that you care about is much easier. The House is much more fluid; we’re entering the next legislative session with nineteen new legislators, nearly a fifth of our membership. If you’re coming to Richmond to advocate a bill next year, you’re looking at a large list of folks you’ve never talked to before, and you’re going to have to start from scratch on the House side.

6) Has there been a difference between how you expected the Legislature to be and how it is in reality?

It’s much more friendly than the blogs would have you believe. I think there’s an impression that members of the two parties can’t stand one another, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s an incredibly friendly atmosphere in Richmond. We disagree on a lot of issues, and we fight a lot, but at the end of the day, we’re all there to work for the people of Virginia. I don’t think a lot of us could get through the legislative session without that friendly atmosphere.

7) What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your career?

You have to make a clear separation between your work life and your personal life. Set aside time for yourself. So much of our daily work is done online, and it’s very easy to find yourself on the couch at 11:00 at night checking email when you’ve already been working all day. It feels productive, but it’s really just bringing you closer to burning out. I still violate this rule fairly regularly, but I’m getting better!

Also, for the nights you do have to work late, stock the house with something healthy. Just because Wendy’s is open until 3am doesn’t make it a good idea.

8) Do you have any parting thoughts that haven't been covered?

The work environment in the state legislature, when you’re not in session, is very different. We’re a citizen legislature, so all of the Delegates have day jobs that take up a lot of their time. Every office is going to be different, so if you’re considering working as a legislative aide, get to know your potential employer first. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together, and it’s important to build a trusting relationship if you’re going to be an effective aide.

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Resume & Job Search Tips Webinar

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Democratic GAIN is holding a webinar on how to construct your resume and give you tips to landing that perfect "political" job. 

This workshop is perfect for folks that want to make sure their resume is making the most impact and who want to make sure they are doing all they can do to get and stay employed in a political career. 

In this two hour workshop, we cover:

    •    Building your political resume to make sure it gets noticed
    •    The Art of the Cover letter and Writing Samples
    •    Interview Tips
    •    Networking Advice - how to build and use your network

It is a very informal discussion format that ends with individuals getting one-on-one time with experts to go over their resumes individually and answer any personal career questions. 

Please be sure to register online; log-in information will be emailed to you the day before.

Only $10 for non-dues-paying members and HALF PRICE for dues-paying members of GAIN.

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Nikki's parting thoughts

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, November 2, 2009
Updated: Monday, November 2, 2009
Wow!  I'm not going to lie; it's been a little weird not being at the helm of Democratic GAIN this past week or so. 

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed my time as GAIN's Executive Director.  These last 18 months have been amazing.  I owe a big thanks to you - our members - for your insight, participation, ideas, feedback, and encouragement. 

Democratic GAIN, to me, is democracy at it's finest.  This organization exists to make sure every talented individual who wants to give themselves over to the crazy profession that is politics has the opportunity to learn, meet, and grow in their career.  A political career cannot just be for the few and the privileged; our party and our movement is better served and represented when everyone has the chance to participate.   

Okay, enough of the sappy and onto my next steps.  I am happy to announce that I am keeping it in the family and joining Englin Consulting as a Senior Strategist (we were going to call me "Senior Accomplice," but thought better).  The Englin Team has been leading GAIN's communications strategy for the past year, and were there when we rebuilt the website, launched the newsletter, and decided what to talk to you about.   I'm excited to start this next chapter of my career.

Before I go, I'd like to give a giant THANK YOU to Amy Pritchard, the Founder and President of Democratic GAIN.  I began this job lucky to have Amy as a mentor; I'm leaving this job lucky to now count her as a friend.  Our party and our movement owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude for starting and continuing this great organization. 

I'd also like to thank our webmaster Seth Tanner for always keeping it real and guiding me through the world of the "intertubes." 

In addition, I'd like to thank our new Board of Directors.  Seriously, you have already outdone yourselves and I know you will do amazing things for this organization in the coming 2 years. 

And last, but certainly not least, I'd like to thank Alexandra Acker Lyons for agreeing to come back to Democratic GAIN.  Rest assured folks, I have passed the torch to the most capable hands.  Alexandra brings dedication, enthusiasm and talent to this role that I can only envy. 

Phew.  Well, I guess that's about all for me.  Good luck to all of you as you go forward making our country a better place, one job at a time. 

Keep in touch and thank you again!

(Former Executive Director, Democratic GAIN)

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Hello from Al!

Posted By Alexandra Acker Lyons, Thursday, October 29, 2009
Hello GAIN members!  I'm in my second week as the new Executive Director of Democratic GAIN and I'm thrilled to be back.  I met many of you in 2005 when I was GAIN's Training Director, as well as over the last few years through my work with various progressive organizations.  I'm looking forward to meeting more GAINers over the coming months and years!

It's an exciting time to work in progressive politics.  We kicked some ass last year, which meant many of us had the luxury (some for the first time!) of feeling what victory was like.  This meant more jobs in more places, as the Administration staffed up and many progressive organizations upped their advocacy efforts.  Of course, the economy didn't help and GAIN is here to help you through your transition, whether finding your next career move or finding much-needed health insurance in off-cycles.

I want to hear from you.  What can GAIN do to help you move up the career ladder?  What events have been successful in the past?  What should we do to keep more talented operatives in the progressive movement?  Are there particular skills you need to acquire to move to your next job?  Particular areas of the country we should focus on to gear up for 2010 and 2012?  Member benefits we're not currently offering that would be helpful?  Send an email to me at and let me know!

Finally, I want to thank Nikki for all of her hard work for Democratic GAIN over the last 18 months.  From resume workshops and bootcamps to overhauling the website and membership levels, Nikki had a huge impact on GAIN and the future of our movement.

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November Monthly Resume Tips & Job Search Advice Workshop Scheduled for November 5th!

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Hey all - former Executive Director Nikki Enfield here letting you know, per several requests, we've scheduled an emergency Resume Tips & Job Search Advice Workshop on Thursday, November 5th from Noon - 2:30pm! 

Whether you'll just be coming off the elections, or for you're just looking to make your next move, join us before the Networking Happy Hour on the 5th to make sure your resume is making the impact you need it to, and you are doing all you should be to get yourself noticed. 

I will be making a special reappearance, joining the fabulous Alexandra Acker Lyons to help you put your best foot...and wording...forward.

Sign up today because these workshops fill up fast! 

Tags:  resume advice 

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Post-Election Networking Happy Hour in DC

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, October 26, 2009
Join Democratic GAIN and NGP Software for a networking happy hour on
Thursday, November 5 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. 

In addition to (hopefully!) celebrating some Democratic victories, we will also be
welcoming Democratic GAIN's new Executive Director, Alexandra Acker Lyons! 

Cider cocktails, kegs of seasonal brews and fall fare will be provided,
and progressive-minded company is guaranteed.
The party will be hosted at NGP’s headquarters, and the roof deck will be open for those who wish to brave sub-60 temperatures.  NGP is located at:  1225 Eye Street NW, 12th Floor
, Washington, DC 20005
We hope you’ll join Democratic GAIN, NGP and our big network of friends for a great party. 

Please RSVP by clicking here.  This event is free, but we need a headcount so we have
enough beverages for all! 

We hope to see you on (thirsty) Thursday, the 5th!

Tags:  networking 

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Interview with C.R. Wooters

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Friday, October 23, 2009
We continue our "Bubbles of Politics" interview series with another interview from a Hill staffer.  This time, we get some great advice from C.R. Wooters, the Director of Member Services in the Office of the Assistant to the Speaker.

1. Please give us a quick biography. Touch on how you got your first job in politics and why you decided to stick with politics as a profession.

My first job in politics was working in New Hampshire for Al Gore’s Presidential campaign. I started interning for the campaign while I was still in college and after I graduated they needed folks for the early states. I stayed with the campaign through its historic ending in Florida. I have spent most of my time in politics on the campaign side. I have done a couple tours at the DNC and the DCCC working on races all over the country. I have worked at a DC non-profit and on the Hill.  My first job on the Hill was to be Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. I left Mrs. Slaughter’s office and went back to the DCCC to run the Incumbent Retention operation for the 2008 cycle. After a successful cycle my boss Rep. Chris Van Hollen asked me to come back to the official side. I am currently the Director of Member Service in the Office of the Assistant to the Speaker working with the vulnerable Members for Mr. Van Hollen. I am leaving out a lot of details here but suffice it to say I have worked in dozens of states and DC over the past 10 or so years and like most political folks my resume looks like I can’t keep a job. 

2. Did you begin your career thinking that Capitol Hill was where you wanted to end up?
Well I did to some extent. I grew up in the DC area so my family is here. I figured at some point I wanted to work on the Hill so that I could settle down and live here in the city. When I started out I knew I enjoyed politics and had no real idea how to make it a career so I jumped on a campaign and began the ride.   I did, however, always keep my eye out for opportunities on the Hill. 

3. What do you like most and hate most about it?
The Hill is fascinating to me. These days I work with Democrats, both staff and Members, who are working like crazy to do what's best for the people they represent and the country. The people I work with are from very tough districts (most carried by McCain) so how they do things and how they talk about what they are doing is critical. I really love learning from these offices and racking my brain for new ideas to help them. It's crazy to think that the things we work on everyday can change people's lives. People talk about helping folks when they run for office but the legislative process is where it actually happens.  

I don't really hate anything but I do wish there could be more bi-partisanship in Washington. It’s a little annoying that Democrats and Republicans cannot find more ways to work together but I guess we've got to keep plugging away.  (I, of course, only blame the Republicans!!) 

4. In general, do you recommend starting a successful Hill career on a political campaign or rather beginning a career on the Hill at the entry-level?
People ask me this all the time and it really depends on what you want to do.  Most folks on the Hill work their way up the food chain.  That is what I recommend for folks who want to work directly with legislation.  You need to understand how the LC job works before you can be an LA and you need to be and LA for a while before you can be the Legislative Director. 
I took a different route.  My first job on the hill was as a Chief of Staff so I am not typical.   

That said, I do think the campaign experience is great for almost anyone who wants to go into senior management or press.  I also think that you cannot duplicate the pressure and speed of a campaign. 

5. Should one have a different approach to looking on the Senate vs. the House? What are the major differences between the two bodies when it comes to working there?
The Senate offices are bigger and tend to be more senior. Interaction with the Senators can sometimes be limited to a few staffers.  Since there are fewer of them each Senator has a role in most pieces of legislation. 

In the House there is a lot more turnover in offices.  Staff tends to be smaller and younger.  There is usually more interaction with the Members.  Members tend to have a couple of issues that they spend a ton of time on with other issues only percolating when they are relevant.  In the House re-election is always on folks mind. 

6. Has there been a difference between how you expected the Hill to be and how it is in reality?

Not really.  Folks up here work long hours for not a ton of money.  Members travel back and forth from the district almost every week.  We joke that this is the biggest collection of "type A” personalities on earth.  You throw the politics on top and it’s really exciting.   

7. What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your career?
Personal relationships are the most important.  You need to focus on your job but get to know the folks around you.  Washington is a small town.  Folks you meet interning and early in your career you will more than likely run into down the road.   

8. Do you have any parting thoughts that haven’t been covered?
Politics is a very hard but very fun business.  It provides the ability to learn a ton and actually help regular people.  It’s a cliché but elected officials want to change the world and it’s our job to help them do that.  Washington and the Hill specifically, is the center of the political world so it’s a great place to learn.

Tags:  capitol hill  career advice  learn from pros 

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