Working in politics can be a rewarding and challenging experience. Whether it is working for a political party, a politician, a candidate, or for the advancement of a particular issue, there are many opportunities to get involved in politics. Most entry-level positions in politics and student internships are unpaid or with small stipends. Furthermore, many offices and political campaigns rely on personal and professional networks to fill open positions. While getting involved in politics can be difficult, by getting involved, it allows you to network and build connections with other political staffers. By being an intern or volunteer for a campaign or a political office, college students can build the network necessary to secure political jobs for the future.
FAQ About Political Jobs:
How can I get involved?
Starting in politics is as simple as getting involved. Whether it is interning or volunteering for a campaign, political office, political advocacy group, or government institution, building up a network of other political staffers and politicians is key to finding political jobs. By researching campaigns, issues, or work that you are passionate about, you can find what you want to get involved with.
What is the nature of the work?
Political work is known to be a stressful position. Many political staffers work over 60 or 70 hours a week, and campaign staffers could work as much as 100 hours a week. The pay is also lower than comparable private sector positions. Average salary data compiled by the Open House Project are listed below for a listing of various Congressional staffing jobs here .
How can I find jobs?
Finding jobs in political campaigns beings by building a network; however, you cannot begin to build that network without being involved in campaigns or previous political work. Whether it means volunteering for a campaign of your choice, interning at a political office, attending political conferences, or being involved with the political infrastructure of your city, district, or state, getting involved gives you the best shot of building networks and securing jobs.
More specifically, if you interested in working as a political staffer, find out the internship programs at various political offices. Many political offices will give hiring preferences to students who live or go to school in their area of representation.
If you would like to get involved with
campaigns, many political campaigns get more fundraising dollars to be able to
hire more staff as Election Day draws closer, and many times campaigns will
offer jobs to dedicated volunteers in addition to bringing in outside
Potential Jobs in the Field:
While there are many traditional political jobs available (such as being a field organizer or a Congressional staffer), political work includes staffers from all different backgrounds and sectors including, IT, creative writing, media, and film. This section will give previews for both traditional and less traditional political jobs.
Campaign Work: Campaign Field Organizer: Working as a field organizer for a campaign of any kind is a fast-paced high responsibility position. Being at the frontlines of talking with voters and recruiting volunteers, field organizers build the base for the campaign’s person-person contact. Some responsibilities of field organizers include: recruiting volunteers, scheduling and supervising volunteers to work shifts and complete projects, and helping train and support volunteers.
Political Staffer: Congressional Communications Director: Political staffers work to ensure a political office runs smoothly so the politician is aware of meetings, upcoming votes, and the concerns and interests of his constituents. Congressmen often have staff at various offices, both in their home districts and in Washington D.C. One of the positions that almost all Congressional offices have is a Communications Director. Communications Directors are in charge of serving as a channel of communication between the Congressional office and the public and managing the flow of information to both the public and the press through interviews, press releases, and other events.
Campaign Work: Cinematographer: Cinematographers work to document important aspects of the campaign through digital imagery. The work involves filming footage to best capture a candidate's message through film and can involve filming for campaign ads and messages for donors and supporters. Like other campaign jobs, the position involves constant travel; however, it allows for a unique level of access to a candidate and their most senior staff.
Campaign Work: IT Director: The Campaign IT Director is a position helping create and maintain IT infrastructure for a campaign in a given region or nationwide. The IT Director is tasked with creating and managing the technical end of voter, donor, and general databases for the campaign to use.
Campaign Work: Digital Media Buyer: The Digital Media Buyer for a political campaign helps manage a team to target and purchase ad space on the internet. Some responsibilities include: tracking analytics of web traffic, determining how to leverage digital media for the campaign, and working with advertising networks and websites to ensure the quality of advertising.
Resources on Campus:
CU Republicans - Website of College Republicans at Columbia
CU Democrats - Website of College Democrats at Columbia
CU Libertarians - Website of College Libertarians at Columbia
Columbia Political Union - Website of the non-partisan Columbia Political Union
Helvidius - Website of Columbia’s Journal of Politics and Society
Columbia Political Review - Website of the Columbia Political Review
Columbia Political Science Department - Columbia University’s Political Science Department homepage
Resources for Columbia Students Pursuing Congressional Internships - Information from Columbia’s Department of Government Affairs on pursuing Congressional internships during the school year and over the summer.
Stipend Application for Congressional Internships - Information and application about stipend provided by Columbia’s Department of Government Affairs for students with Pell Grants interning for a Congressional office
DSCC Internships – The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s list of internship opportunities for students.
DNC Internships - The Democratic National Committee’s page with information and the application for a summer internship. Also provided is information about additional funding for the summer.
DGA Internships – Information for students interested in interning for the Democratic Governor’s Association.
Center for American Progress - The Center for American Progress self-describes itself as an organization “dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.” Students can find grassroots organizing internship program for various progressive issues.
Hill Zoo – Centralized listing for internship/job posting from Democratic members of Congress.
PolitiCorps - PolitiCorps self-describes itself as a “national leadership development program and political organizing bootcamp through a combination of skills and policy classes, intensive field work, strategic planning exercises, and access to a broad network of activists, strategists, and policymakers.” Students can find grassroots organizing opportunities and training through the PolitiCorps summer and year-long program.
Grassroots Campaigns – Grassroots Campaigns self-describes itself as “an independent organization that does strategic consulting, fundraising, and field organizing for good causes and candidates.” Students can find issue-specific field organizing and canvassing work over the summer nationwide.
Campus Progress - Campus Progress self-describes itself as a “national organization that works with and for young people to promote progressive solutions to key political and social challenges through programs in activism, journalism, and events.” Students work in issue-specific field organizing and advocacy work over the summer and school year.
RGA Internships - Internship information and application for working with the Republican Governor’s Association.
RNC Internships - Internship information and application working for working with the Republican National Committee.
NRSC Internships - Internship information working for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Hill Zoo – Centralized listing for internship/job posting from Republican members of Congress.
Leadership Institute - The Leadership Institute self-describes itself as an organization that “provides training in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications. The Institute teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media.” Students can post in a resume bank to get connected with potential employers as well as attend events.
Conservative Jobs - Conservative Jobs is an organization self-describes itself as a “free, online solution that connects conservative job seekers with potential employers.” Students can post their resume, receive resume review, and get connected to potential employers.
AEI Internships - Internship opportunities with the American Enterprise Institute which self-describes itself “a community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise.”
Cato Institute Internships - Internship opportunities with the Cato Institute which self-describes itself as a “public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.”
Job Listing with House of Representatives - Vacancies for the House of Representatives.
Resume Bank with House of Representatives - Resume bank run by the House of Representatives to connect prospective employees with Congressional offices and Congressional committees.
Listing of Campaign Jobs – Listing of campaign jobs from Indeed, the world’s largest job search site.
Find Your Representative - Search engine for finding individual Congressmen from the House of Representatives.
Hill Zoo - Listing of jobs from employers working in government relations.