Have you ever thought of politics as a career? There are a lot of jobs that pay well with excellent health benefits and other perks. Similar to many public service careers, you have a lot of time off too. Many of the high profile careers are elected positions, but not all. Every city, county and state also has similar positions to run their government. Are you interested?
Employment statistics have changed in the last couple of decades! Many workers joined the federal government for a variety of reasons. The federal government offers good pay, benefits and a good career. If you are interested in politics, you have a lot of choices. You can start in your own community and increase your skills. Many politicians begin in staff positions in local government and eventually run for elected office in their local area. Often the a mayor may run for a state-wide office.
Many people go into politics to make a difference, but not all. Some people see an opportunity for power. Let’s face it, the local Mayor or District Attorney is the most powerful person in the community. They can positively or negatively influence the future of the community with their vision. Is it also an opportunity for abuse of power? Absolutely! For some it attracts the wrong candidates for that reason alone. How can you keep those people out? Vote!
How should you do?
Education – Politics usually attracts people who graduate from the country’s most elite universities. Does it provide more credibility? Political candidates usually held elected office in high school and/or college. It may be student government, sports teams, clubs or organizations. It adds to a successful track record of persuading people of their vision or just a reinforcement of a likeability quotient. Bottom line, it works!
Learn the jargon/prepare for the job – Even when you interview for your first job, your employer is looking for evidence of demonstrating skills. It not only shows interest, but it actually provides skills necessary to do the job. Working in government before you decide to seek elected office helps with that learning curve and accumulating the necessary skills. You never have all the skills, but you can surround yourself with people who can help you.
Teamwork/Network – Government is the ultimate team sport! It is really rare that you can do anything in government by yourself. It takes a number of people to swing a vote, pass a bill or enact a law. Just to get into politics requires committees, volunteers, campaign workers and a legion of consultants to get elected. It usually starts with you at the bottom working as an unpaid volunteer as you learn the skills to become a paid worker.
Fundraising/money – Elections take a lot of money! I am always surprised why someone needs to raise so much money for a job that pays so little! It takes millions of dollars for a job that pays maybe a a hundred ($100k) thousand dollars. In this age of so many media outlets, you need to spend a lot on consultants and so much more. Since money is so important for a successful campaign, I am concerned about all the favors necessary to get those funds.
Where do you start? – “All politics is local.” (House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill) The former Speaker of the House is referring to a politician’s success is directly tied to the candidate’s ability to understand and influence the issues of their constituents. Therefore the best place to start a career in politics is a local political race. Before you enter a political race, you should work in local government and a political campaign. The more experience understanding what it takes to win a election the better.
There are many reasons to go into politics, but it should be to make a difference in your community. Most people who seek national office are generally successful in their own right! The average net worth in Congress is $1 million or more! A career in politics will not make you rich, but it also provides a wide variety of opportunities that can after you leave politics. Politics is not for everyone because you generally compromise your values either during the election process or during your tenure.
You can work in politics without ever compromising your values in staff positions. There are many powerful positions such campaign manager, consultant, political strategists or public relations. Finding your career or the role you enjoy is never easy, so get out there and try different things. This is how you find what you like! You try different things until you find something you like. What do you think? Let me know in the comments. Have you ever thought of politics as a career?
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