Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Political nomads

In the final few days of the campaign I took the opportunity to chat with many of the young staffers, who would soon be unemployed and headed out of town (few were New Mexicans).

All of these folks were in their early/mid-20s, and shared similar biographies. Most were Government/PolySci majors. All had worked on other campaigns before joining Heinrich for Congress. In almost all cases, they shared a nomadic lifestyle, moving from one campaign to another. Many of these campaign jobs were little more than whistle-stops, with employment lasting 2-6 weeks. They were all members of an informal network of young campaign workers who somehow learned of new opportunities quickly enough to remain personally solvent. Among the Heinrich for Congress crowd, they'd been doing this for between one and four years - wandering from campaign to campaign. Some had spent their short careers in a single speciality (e.g., finance, communications); others made it a point to work in full spectrum of campaign functions, even tho' this kept 'em forever at the bottom of the experience & payscale ladder. It was not uncommon to hear 'em recite a litany of half-a-dozen jobs held within a 3-6 month period. Most are now looking for their next campaign - with experience on a successful Congressional campaign to add to their resumes.

Most aspired to working on The Hill. Few admitted to aspirations for elected political office.

This is a young person's game - in many respects resembling professional sports (particularly professional baseball - where the players hop from one minor-league team to another, hoping at some point to get invited to "The Show").

A frequent career development path: volunteer -> unpaid intern -> paid intern -> staff -> senior staff.
Make connections along the way.

An interesting nomadic life.

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