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June GAIN Trainings & Workshops

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I just wanted to put in a quick word about all of the exciting stuff happening in June and encourage you to sign up ASAP because space is limited.

Two June Resume Workshops…1 after work, and 1 Online!

You asked, we answered! We are offering two Resume Tips & Job Search Advice Workshops in June…one in the evening (for those of you who are fortunate to have a job or internship, but still want to get in on this great advice), and one Online for those of you living outside the DC area.

The evening workshop is Thursday, June 4th from 5:30-7:30pm. Click here for more information and to register. Space is very limited, so register now.

The Online workshop is Friday, June 19th from Noon-2pm EST. Click here for more information and to register.

More training opportunities

The Whats, Whys and Hows of Direct Mail - On Thursday, June 18th, Ed Peavy of Mission Control will host a two hour seminar focusing on showing you how to put together a winning Direct Mail strategy. This seminar is geared towards individuals looking to become Deputy Campaign Managers, Managers or who will be participating in mail strategy for their advocacy organization or union. Click here for more info or to register.

The Basics of Polling - On Tuesday, June 30th, Matt Hogan of Anzalone Liszt Research will host a two hour workshop for those of you looking to get a better handle on polling, pollsters and using polling information to form a message and strategy.  Click here for more info or to register.

Space is very limited, so sign up right away if you are interested in attending either event.
These seminars are each $25 to attend, but are FREE for current dues-paying members of GAIN. Since membership packages start at just $25/year, you may as well become a paid member before signing up!

We've got more in the hopper, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, sign up for one of the June workshops or seminars now!

I hope you find them helpful...

Tags:  resume advice  training  workshop 

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Interview with Bill Hyers

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Thursday, May 28, 2009
Bill Hyers currently serves as the White House liaison for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Prior to joining the Administration, Bill worked on over 20 campaigns at the local, federal, and state level including John Edwards for President, Gillibrand for Congress (06), Nutter for Mayor, and Obama for President.

1.  Describe your current job
My main job is to manage campaigns, which requires knowledge of fundraising, communications, field, and candidate relations. In my current job in the Administration I use many of the same skills I developed on the campaign trail to help Veterans get what they rightly deserve for their service.

2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
I started out serving 5 years in the Army for a good personal base, and after college began working on campaigns. I started in field on local campaigns such as Rybak for Mayor and then Dutcher for Governor. After several campaigns in my home state of Minnesota I branched out nationally on John Edwards for President in 2004. After several more campaigns in Field, I started managing campaigns, several small ones before jumping to a congressional, a major mayors race, then onto statewide. 

3. What are the three most important skills for success in politics?
Strong work ethic, ability to listen, and very thick skin.

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?
Don't overstate your experience (it's a small business), keep it on 1 page, 2 only if you have more than 10 years, keep your references on your resume, and make sure current contact info is in there!

5. What would be your first next step if you were looking for a job in the progressive political world today?
Take your time, be willing to take on multiple roles for many kinds of organizations.  The more you learn in the early years, the better chance you will have of excelling later.

Tags:  career advice  job advice 

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Interview with Andy Bechhoefer

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Andy Bechhoefer currently serves as the targeting director at Grassroots Solutions

Out of college Andy started working for the National Committee for an Effective Congress on their targeting. After that he worked for the DCCC and the Bradley for President campaign before joining Grassroots Solutions.

1.  Describe your current job
I am the targeting director for Grassroots Solutions, a field consulting and grassroots organizing firm. I take a set of parameters (vote goal, budget, polling targets) and help a campaign or organization design a plan to reach that goal.

2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
Like most people in this business I started volunteering and interning on local campaigns. I got a break during the Mondale Presidential campaign when they thought my computer skills would be helpful to NCEC, a PAC that was also responsible for their targeting.

The last 10 years have been spent applying those targeting skills to various campaigns. With the DCCC over various cycles I have helped them target which races to spend money on and help individual candidates design voter contact programs.

At Grassroots Solutions we use some kind of targeting in most of our programs. This includes non-campaign clients as well as campaign clients. Recently we have spent much of our time applying the latest microtargeting data to voter contact programs. Targeting is about efficiency. Our job is sometimes to make the voter contact 5%-10% more efficient. When many voter contact programs cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (and up), this efficiency can save them lots of money.

3. What are the three most important skills for success in politics?
  • Planning - Never lose sight of the big picture
  • Computer skills - whether it is database programming, web design, or Excel and Powerpoint, computer skills are important
  • Writing - One would be surprised how few people in this business can write well 
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?
Keep the resume short and focused on the types of jobs you are interested in. One page resumes are a plus, since we never look at the 2nd page anyway. The resume does not need to list every campaign job if there are dozens. The most recent jobs and the ones where you worked the longest are the most important. A good set of references is also important, as many people are hired on recommendations from people they know.

5. What would be your first next step if you were looking for a job in the progressive political world today?
Don't be afraid to go out on a campaign, even a smaller race. There is no substitute for a variety of experience. Campaigns offer a much broader experience than some DC jobs. Small races also offer the chance to get lots of responsibility at a young age.

Tags:  career advice  job tips 

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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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Democratic GAIN Political Networking Happy Hour filled to capacity Cole's in historic downtown L.A.

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tom Eisenhauer sends in this update from Thursday's event Los Angeles:
About 100 people enjoyed the food - Cole's says they're the "originators of the French Dip" - and the chance to mix and mingle with a diverse crowd that included progressive advocates, campaigns, consultants and government officials. The diversity of the crowd was apparent, and folks got to meet other progressives - from interns to officeholders - whom they wouldn't have seen anywhere else.  (If I'd remembered to take a photo, you could see what I mean.)
Special thanks to our long list of hosts (see below) who made this event possible - and in particular to Sarah Leonard and Ellie Wallace of the Glover Park Group, who did the heavy lifting to make this event such a success.

Tags:  california  event  Happy hour 

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Thank you Rachel!

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Yesterday's Advanced Finance Training Seminar with Rachel Hirschberg was great (if I do say so myself).  Having been working in political and non-profit fundraising for 15 years, Rachel was able to give the participants valuable "real life tips" to help them forge ahead in their finance careers. 

Joining Rachel was Johanna Berkson from the DCCC to not only share her experience, but give insider tips from the frontline congressional races. 

I sat through the whole 2 hours wishing I'd been able to attend this session when I was starting my finance career.  Just hearing about the difference between the "Cadillac Plan" (which is everyone's goal), and reality was so helpful. 

From how to manage call time to working with your campaign manager, Rachel's insight was helpful, interesting and often very funny.

One of the participants, Joel Z. noted after the seminar: "It was great to hear and compare issues and concerns similar to my own experiences from the panel and participants.  It clarified and solidified much of what I learned working in finance during the last cycle and I'm excited to find my next race and start fighting again."

I would like to personally thank Rachel and Johanna and all of the participants for joining us.  I very much hope to bring more of these "small group discussion training seminars" to our members throughout this year.  So, stay tuned...

Tags:  finance  fundraising  training 

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FYI...College Democrats Event in NY this weekend

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, April 13, 2009
I am posting this as an FYI to our New York area and College Democrat friends...

"The College Democrats chapter at St. John’s University will be hosting the 2009 College Democrats of New York State Convention this weekend, Friday April 17 – Sunday April 19, at St. John’s University’s Manhattan Campus - located at 101 Murray Street, New York, NY 10007.

Throughout the weekend, we will be joined by students from across the state that will take part in trainings and panels led by all levels of political professionals, elected officials, and party leaders.

If you are interested in participating in the convention, there us a professional networking social on the evening of Saturday, April 18 at NYU's Kimmel Building (60 Washington Square South, room 904) from 9:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. To attend, you must RSVP ahead of time at"

Tags:  college democrats  event  new york 

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WaPo: Looking for a Job in the Administration

Posted By Seth Tanner, Monday, April 13, 2009
The Washington Post's Ian Shapira wrote a must-read last week about former campaign workers moving to DC to look for a job in the Administration.

"Flocking to the District's creative-class encampments of Mount Pleasant, the U Street corridor and Dupont and Logan circles, people in their 20s and 30s -- those, that is, with a liberal bent -- are prowling progressive Wiki pages and joining Google groups in the hunt for an Obama job. Those already employed elsewhere are secretly uploading their résumés to, while others are quitting their jobs to concentrate on the search.

Some are deft anglers: Melody Mathews, 29, a former Obama field worker-turned-Navy contractor, co-hosted a celebratory dinner recently at Old Ebbitt Grill that included top Army brass with whom she campaigned. Her hope is that they will get presidential appointments and, in turn, hire her. Others, such as Noland Chambliss, 25, a former Obama deputy field director, are in come-down mode. He applied for a position in the Energy Department but hasn't heard anything for months. So he has applied for a job at a pizza shop near his shared house off U Street NW."

Something to keep in mind, there were comparable numbers of Obama campaign staff to the number of government positions that could be filled by non-civil service. Add in non-OFA, but allied staff, and the numbers are not in the favor of the job seeker. Many of these non-civil service jobs do not relate well to campaign skills, since they are highly policy based.

A word of advice to those of you with your heart set on working in the Administration:  Don't forget that President Obama will be in office until January 20th, 2013, and at the rate he (and the potential opposition) is going, January 20th, 2017.  That leaves 4, if not 8 years, to get the chance to serve.  There will be time for many people to start in Administration jobs years down the line. 

So, in the meantime, try finding some jobs at organizations that will help support the President's agenda or help maintain the majority in Congress.  Administration jobs have a notoriously high burn-out rate, and you'll have time to serve at some point, if not today.  And if you are growing your skillsets and network in other roles, you'll be in a better position for a better job when your turn comes.

Tags:  job seeking  networking  white house 

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Congratulations Emmy - the Democratic GAIN "Rookie of the Year!"

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, March 30, 2009
On Saturday night, Democratic GAIN teamed up with the AAPC to announce the "Democratic GAIN Rookie of the Year" Pollie Award.  The winner was selected by the AAPC panel of judges after dozens of Democratic GAIN members nominated their favorite rookies from the 2008 cycle.

I was very proud to present the award to Emmy Ruiz, who cut her teeth on the Clinton campaign in the primary, and then completed the cycle at the Young Democrats of America. 

Emmy has shown she is a person who possesses that elusive ability to be assertive without being aggressive and a natural ability to lead and motivate teammembers when it’s needed (oh, and she always instinctively knows when it’s needed)

She can organize anything – from a field office full of volunteers to an earned media event with hundreds of reporters – like a pro. 

Add to that a great sense of humor, a keen mind, an ability to roll with the punches,
and that likability X factor that just makes you want to be around her. 

We are eager to watch her grow and excel in her political career. 

Thank you again to the dozens of people who took the time to nominate their favorite Rookie!  I know there were many exceptional new talents out there this year and I wish to thank them all for their hard work and I hope they continue on their political career path!

Tags:  AAPC  award  emmy ruiz  pollie  rookie 

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What You've Done, Not Where You've Worked

Posted By Seth Tanner, Monday, March 23, 2009

One of the things I do, and I recommend people do as much as they can, is to help friends find jobs. It helps create loyalty, backchannels into other organizations, and promotes yourself as a person who can be “helpful” to people in need. You never know when the shoe will be on the other foot. And it’s a nice thing to do.

One of the largest issues I’ve seen when people send me a resume, or talk about why they should be at X or Y job is a focus on where they have worked, rather than what they have done. A clear and public example can be seen in Rahaf Harfoush, who worked on the Obama new media team for a few months. That detail was included in her bio along with previous social media research work to create a bio that lead her to be promoted as an Obama strategist at schools and other institutes she worked on. In the New Republic, details of her involvement in the campaign leaked out. What did she actually do for the campaign?

For the last three months of the campaign, "The Foush" was an unpaid volunteer at the Obama headquarters in Chicago, where her regular duties essentially involved approving comments and groups. There were two to three dozen people doing similar work, but she was somewhat unique in that she had a background in social media.

So. Member of Obama New Media Team. Intern-level site moderator.

Personally, I’ve seen other resumes and had other conversations with people new to DC who have a false expectation that people will hire based on where they worked, and not what they’ve done. When looking at a resume, and evaluating your previous experiences, here is some of what I would look at and emphasize:

  • District size of your campaign (or at least the part of the campaign you were assigned to manage).
  • Number of staff reporting to you.
  • Budget you were responsible for spending and/or raising.
  • Your responsibilities (not department or principle responsibilities).
  • Measured results (raised X money, recruited X volunteers, contacted X voters X times, etc).

If you keep these concepts in mind, you will have a much better idea where in the world you are. If you want an example, take a look at my resume and see how the bullets talk, not the organizations I've worked for.

Many people this year will be working in New Jersey and Virginia for their odd-year elections, and will add to their resume by doing higher level stuff for lower level candidates. If you think you need to work on doing higher level stuff, working on the lower level campaigns a good way to set yourself up to do higher level stuff for higher level candidates in 2010.

Tags:  expectations  job search  resumes 

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