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Another Successful Career Fair

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, February 9, 2009


Saturday’s Career Fair at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ was so much fun! First of all, it was great to get out of DC and meet a whole new group of employers and individuals. Secondly, the panel discussions rocked – thank you so much to all of our panelists for joining and lending their expertise. I’ve gotten dozens of emails over the weekend from attendees and participants who were just so pleased with everything.

The NJ event would not have happened had it not been for the hard work of Steve Ayscue in NJ and Matt Albert helping with NY. Thank you both so much!

We are interested in doing more events outside of the Washington area. Partnering with someone on the ground helps create great events for all who come. If you want to bring a career fair or networking happy hour to your area, please feel free to contact us and we’ll see what we can do.

Tags:  career fair  events 

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$10,000 Fellowship Opportunity

Posted By Bryce Cullinane, Monday, February 9, 2009
Editor's Note: This awesome opportunity for undergraduate students interested in politics comes to us  from Bryce Cullinane at George Washington University.  Thanks for sending this in Bryce!
 
The Graduate School of Political Management, in an effort to foster political activism, civic engagement, and youthful creativity, will award four fellowships to undergraduate students who have shown an exceptional commitment to participating in politics.
 
The four fellowships will be awarded in the categories of Undergraduate Student Government Campaigning, National Student Advocate of the Year, Excellence and Innovation in Political Media, and Most Promising Student Campaigner. Each fellow will recieve, amongst other things, a $10,000 scholarship to attend the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University.
 
The application deadline is April 1st and information can be found at www.gspm.gwu.edu/fellowship
 
Questions and submissions can be sent to gspmfellowship@gmail.com

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Announcing the GAIN Rookie of the Year Award

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Democratic GAIN is proud to be sponsoring the “Democratic GAIN Award for Rookie of the Year” at this year’s AAPC Pollie Awards!
 
Pollie Awards
For more than 18 years, The American Association of Political Consultants and Public Affairs Professionals has been bringing leaders of the political and public affairs profession together with  its annual Pollie Awards and Conference. Here, leaders in the profession discuss the newest technologies,  strategies and techniques and honor “the best of the best” in political communication with the annual Pollie Awards Contest.
 
We are asking Democratic GAIN users and members to nominate their colleagues and mentees for this very prestigious award.  Please nominate your favorite rising star from the 2008 election cycle!  Nominees should be new entrants into the field of professional politics – meaning they should only have held one (or 2 max) paid positions.  This individual would have shown unique ability, intelligence, creativity and dedication to your cause.  
 
In addition, don’t forget that the AAPC is offering Democratic Gain dues-paying members a 35% discount on registration to the Annual Pollie Awards & Conference to be held March 27th to the 29th at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, in Washington DC.   Dues-paying members should login and visit http://www.democraticgain.org/?page=discounts to access this discount.  The AAPC is also offering GAIN members a 25% discount on its individual membership.
 

Tags:  awards 

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Congratulations to Reed Award Winner Steve Schwartz

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Democratic GAIN wants to give a special CONGRATULATIONS to Steve Schwartz for winning the Campaigns & Elections magazine's Reed Award for Best Mentor/Boss last week!

Steve is the Finance Director at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center and truly deserves this honor.

Steve, and those who nominated him, remind us that being a good mentor is one of the most important things an experience professional can do. In order to build on our current successes, or movement relies on mentors to share their knowledge, experiences and advice with the next generation so they are fully equipped to carry on the torch.

Democratic GAIN thanks all of those professionals who take the time and effort to truly be mentors.

Tags:  awards  mentors  reed awards 

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Keeping Health Insurance After the Campaign Ends

Posted By Susen Askew, Qvisory, Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Editor's Note: This post is from Susan Askew at Qvisory, a partner of Democratic GAIN.  Qvisory is a new online organization that puts the money, work, and health goals of young Americans first. Combining advocacy, education, tools, and services, Qvisory is building a movement in which each of us can improve our own lives and take collective action for meaningful change in the policies that directly affect our economic well-being and health. 

Keeping Health Insurance After the Campaign Ends

Finished with a campaign? Wondering what to do about health insurance while you look for your next job?  Well, with just a little bit of homework and some comparison shopping, you can learn your options, make an educated decision and be covered while you look for you next adventure.

Some quick tips:

  1. First, understand your rights and options.  You may be eligible for COBRA which allows you and your family to keep your health coverage in the event you lose your job. There are several factors that determine if you are eligible.  Check with your employer if you haven’t already been offered this option.  More on understanding COBRA can be found at in the COBRA Information Center on Qvisory.org
  2. Determine if COBRA is right for you.  If you or a member of your family is pregnant, has a pre-existing health condition, are taking prescription medications, or have been declined for private health insurance, COBRA is likely to be your best option.  However, if you and your family are relatively healthy, you may be able to purchase a comparable individual and family health insurance plan for a lot less money than COBRA will cost. 
  3. Research your alternatives.  Qvisory, a Democratic GAIN partner that focuses on financial and health care resources and issues for young workers, can help you find more affordable health insurance quickly and easily. Compare your COBRA coverage with other alternatives at Qvisory.  If you live in Illinois there is a policy that costs as little as $40 per month.
  4. Remember…  It is important to compare benefits to ensure your individual needs are met.  Do NOT cancel any health insurance plan until you have been approved for another one.
We all look forward to health care reform.  Until then, health care is part of all of our economic lives and financial decisions.  Don’t make assumptions about what you can afford.  Check out the possibilities and while you are at it, put your name on a map to call for health care reform now! 
 

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Interview with Bob Blaemire

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This week we continue our series of interviews with political operatives across the spectrum.  This week we have Robert Blaemire of Catalist, LLC.  Do you have questions you want us to ask in these interviews?  Be sure to leave them in the comments and we'll incorporate them into future interviews.

 
Robert Blaemire is the Director of Business Development at Catalist, LLC. He is formerly the founder and president of Blaemire Communications. Catalist is transforming the way progressive organizations communicate and campaign by creating a comprehensive, well-maintained national database of all voting-age individuals in the United States, along with the tools and expertise needed to make this database broadly accessible, at an affordable price.  As many ouf you know, they were instrumental in many recent Democratic victories.
 
1. Describe your job
Develop new business at Catalist, handle ad hoc requests, consultant subscribers, email matching. Also run the quality assurance divisision of the company, requiring me to approve all steps of voter file creation process.
 
2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
 
I began working for US Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN) as a freshman in college and stayed there 13 years, finishing as Political Director of the 1980 unsuccessful re-election campaign. I then got involved in the business of building voter files in 1982, eventually moving to run the Washington Office of a California political computer firm (Below, Tobe & Assoc.). After 8 years there, I founded Blaemire Communications. Working with Democratic State Parties, Democratic candidates and progressive organizations, managed more of the Democratic State party voter file projects than any other vendor. Our company merged with Catalist in December 2007. 
 
3. What are the three most important skills for success in the progressive politics?
  • Do good work you can be proud of;
  • Treat clients, colleagues and prospects as you'd like to be treated yourself;
  • Don't take yourself too seriously.
4. When you're hiring, is there anything in particular on a resume that makes you pick up the phone to schedule an interview?
 
Just the facts. Don't make something sound like it isn't in reality. 
 
5. What should job-seekers keep in mind when interviewing?
 
When you interview, that's the office/place you most want to be. Practice humility. Interviewer is unlikely to think you are as great as you may think you are.

 
Thanks Robert!

Tags:  advice  job seeking 

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Did you say that Charlie Brown

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Last week's Political Networking Happy Hour at Medjool Restaurant in San Francisco was a HUGE success! We had over 115 political professionals (and hopefuls) attend to connect, network and mingle -- including a very special guest: former Congressional candidate from California's 4th District -- Charlie Brown!

On hand were representatives from the offices of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, George Miller, and Jackie Speier, individuals from Mayors Gavin Newsome and Ron Dellums' offices, representatives from several other local elected officials, as well as individuals from local unions, non-profits, consulting firms and advocacy organizations.

Democratic GAIN would like to extend a special thank you to our event co-sponsors the Good Ol' Girls Network, Jim Ross Consulting and NARAL/Pro-Choice CA, as well as the Medjool restaurant for their help in making this event such a success.

In addition, we'd like to give an extra giant thank you to Emily Campbell and Tom Ballantyne for all of their work. This event literally would not have taken place without their leadership!
We have more events like this coming up soon -- including Kansas City next week, Denver next month and the Career Fair in NJ on February 7th. Attending events like these truly are the secret to getting and maintaining a successful career in politics. Working in politics isn't rocket science - it's just all about who you know and the relationships you are able to build."

Here are some pictures from the event:

Tags:  california  events  networking 

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Interview with Jim Carroll

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Last week we launched our series of interviews with political operatives across the spectrum.  This week, we bring you our second interview with Jim Carroll.  Read it below.  And if you missed it, check out last week's interview with Matt Mansell as well as other career advice posted on GAINing Ground.
 
Jim Carroll is the Managing Director of Equality California, a statewide organization that has been building a state of equality in California for the past decade. In the past 10 years, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Jim has been with EQCA for the past five years.
 
1. Describe your job
My responsibility is to execute the tactics necessary to implement the Executive Director's strategic vision and make that vision a reality. On a day-to-day basis, that means allocating resources to accomplish our goals, including financial resources, human resources, technical resources, etc.
 
2. How would you describe your career path? How did you get started in progressive politics?
 
I was a commercial lender at a large bank. My portfolio included many non-profits, so I was required to understand the intricacies of non-profit accounting. This led to a job offer from one of my clients to help them straighten out their books. Non-profit money management and operations, more broadly - led seamlessly to non-profit fundraising. It turns out that non-profit development was a natural fit for my skill set since selling commercial banking services is similar to acquiring donations. In both cases a conversation with the client/donor is required to convince them that investing their money with the bank or non-profit is the place where they'll find the highest return on their dollars. The combination of Development and Operation skill sets gave me a good start; from there I learned the Communications and Program/Field components on the job.
 
I've had fifteen years to learn: Five years at EQCA, and before that five years at the Breast Cancer Fund and five more at PFLAG.
 
3. What are the three most important skills for success in the progressive politics?
Number One: Flexibility. You have to be willing to alter your approach, tactics, resources - to the opportunities that present themselves. Too many people stick to their plan, regardless of the outcomes. Too many more claim success when the available metrics don't support the claim.
 
Number Two: Clear Communication. So much of what we do isn't measurable - we're not creating shareholder profit, or measuring ROI - so you have to be able to communicate value in ways that are compelling across many different kinds of venues. Web, social networking, snail mail, face-to-face meetings, phone, events, etc. are all communications opportunities at their core.
 
Number Three: Leadership. It's a rare skill. The ability of senior staff to lead donors, stake holders, community, staff, board, etc. toward goals is the difference between good organizations and average organizations.
 
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?
 
Misspellings and grammatical errors = doom. If the candidate didn't pay attention to their resume and/or cover letter, he or she won't pay attention to the things the organization needs them to focus on.
 
I'm most interested in candidates that have a variety of job and life experiences. The person who's been doing the same job forever and just wants to come do it with us is less interesting to me than the person who has a variety of expertise and experiences to bring to the table.
 
5. What would be your first next step if you were looking for a job in the progressive political world today?
 
The first thing I would do is pick the area or cause that is most important or relevant to me and/or most in alignment with my skills, be that an organizational area of expertise - Accounting or Web-based fund raising for example - or an issue area. I'd look for people or organizations doing innovative work in that area and get involved, even as a volunteer, to get that experience to bring to my next job. The most exciting change occurs in organizations and communities and from people seeking new and innovative solutions to problems. The government can sometimes implement creative ideas but those ideas almost always originate elsewhere. Government service is an honorable career but I'd rather be on the cutting edge.
 
 
Great advice- thanks Jim! 

Tags:  advice  job seeking 

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How to get a job on the Hill

Posted By Democratic Job Placement Initiative, Thursday, January 15, 2009
The Democratic Job Placement Initiative submitted this post about with advice for those looking for a job on the Capitol Hill.
 
Believe it or not you have a chance to work for the Senate.  I have heard people say that ‘you have to know someone’ or ‘they only hire ivy leaguers’. Both of which are common fallacies that should not prevent you from submitting your resume.  The hill is populated with hard working type A hair on fire staffers from everywhere in America, who all have one thing in common, they want to make a difference.   Below is a list of suggestions intended to increase your chances of obtaining a Hill job. 
 
Do your Research
 
Prior to applying you should take a look at the Senate Employment Brochure available free of charge on line at www.senate.gov/employment or call Placement Office at (202) 224-9167 for more information.  The Senate Placement Office is a free invaluable source of information regarding the types of positions available at the Senate.  The Senate has an age old structure for positions such as staff assistants, legislative correspondents, legislative assistants, staff directors, administrative directors, chiefs of staffs, and counsels.  (These titles are not exhaustive but the most common.)  In order to know where your skill set fits, you will need to do your research with the Senate Placement Office.

While on this topic, if you already have an informational interview or an interview lined up you should familiarize yourself with the Senator’s recent legislative activities.  Although this suggestion may be a no brainer to some of you - to others the excitement of the opportunity may cause you to forget to do your research. You should know their State, their Causes, and the Committees on which they serve.
 
Have an Impeccable Resume

We tend to think that the in person meeting is the first impression, not so on the Hill.  For every one opening, a hiring manager can receive 100 or more resumes.  Your resume is the real first impression. It is your first chance to distinguish yourself. Therefore, it should be concise, crisp, and easy to read.  Font at 12, and your name and contact information easy to spot. 

Be Specific about your Interests

Time and time again, eager prospective staffers say ‘I want to work on policy’, okay what policy?  You should stay focused on policy areas where your skill sets are best suited.  If you are interested in Healthcare Policy be specific; cost of medication policy, preventative care policy, domestic healthcare policy, or foreign healthcare policy?  Be specific.
 
Humility

You want a Senior Level position or even a Chief of Staff position?  Right?  You feel you have experience, education, all the right qualifications but those positions are coveted positions usually earned by people who have prior hill experience.  The reality is that you may have to start with an entry or mid level position. For some of you, that may be too much of a sacrifice.  For others it may be a sacrifice worth making.    That’s a decision you will have to make - just keep in mind that public service is an honor, and getting your foot in the door even in an entry level position may be the start on your path towards a Senior level or Chief of Staff position.

Remain Optimistic

Each Senate Office is autonomous.  Some offices are quicker at responding to staffing needs than others.  If you have sent in a resume and have not heard - remain optimistic. Some offices hire three to six months after interviewing, some will hire on the spot.   There is no way of knowing how rapidly an office will respond or if an office will respond to your resume.  It really has nothing to do with your effort.  So keep applying to various offices.

I hope these suggestions assist you in your job search.  If you have the desire to become a staffer, do not give up.  Be prepared and persevere, the Senate does have opportunities.

Tags:  advice  capitol hill  job seeking 

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First 2009 Resume Workshop a Success

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Last Friday’s Resume Workshop gave Democratic GAIN the opportunity to sit down with nearly a dozen individuals and go through a very hands-on, informal and interactive presentation about writing a political resume.  The small group setting allowed participants to ask questions freely and to get advice and feedback from one another, not just me.  We were also able to discuss and answer questions about finding a job and working in politics more generally.  Following the “presentation” portion, participants were able to sit down individually with either myself, special guest Kari Lundstad-Vogt, training director at Emily’s List, or Amy Pritchard, President of Democratic GAIN to get one-on-one advice about their resumes as well as their careers and potential paths.

I hope the participants found it a helpful and informative event.  I do encourage others to take advantage of these opportunities.  Democratic GAIN is happy to keep having them as long as people are interested in attending them!

Register now for our next workshop on January 23rd!

Tags:  events  job seeking 

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