Getting Work Experience In U.S Politics

Advice by Joe Armer (Organising Fellow On Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign)

Getting epicture2xperience in U.S politics this summer will be trickier than it was last year as there won’t be any major electoral races happening in the US this summer (the next US Senate and House elections will be in November 2018 so campaigns won’t be as big or as active as they would be in Summer 2018). There will be a few big races though – it’s likely that the New Jersey  and Virginia governor’s races will be heavily fought, but the primaries for the candidates won’t be decided until late
r this year so the candidates for the race may not be confirmed until May/June and won’t take future hires until that point.  However, it might be useful to look at the state party’s websites and see if they offer ‘fellowships’ or internships as they will be preparing for the campaigns earlier and will know of any opportunities to work on smaller ‘down ticket’ races.

It may be useful to check this link out and try and work out where the big races will be and when they’re going to be in preparations. Interning in the office of an elected official will likely be more difficult as positions are very competitive and most areas will only take interns/recruits from their districts, so you will have to make a very strong application to convince them to take you on! Chicago is Birmingham’s twin city so maybe it would be possible to make use of that connection. However summer is ‘dead time’ in Washington DC so there won’t be much happening there.

If your goal is to work on a campaign, you may have to accept that you will not be paid for your time due to U.S. regulations banning paid foreigners from working on election campaigns. However, I received free accommodation for my entire visit and got quite a lot of my food paid for too, so you may find that your living expenses turn out to be quite low! In addition to this, once you have a placement secured, you may be interested in applying for Careers Network’s bursary scheme – UoB students have the opportunity to apply for up to £2000 to fund their summer work experience.

Another thing to bear in mind is that campaigns are also quite dynamic on their recruitment timescales. I applied in April, got interviewed at the end of May and was on a plane by mid June! Follow this link for a guide to preparing for your work experience and this link  for a guide to U.S. visas for U.K based students – it pays to have all your preparation completed in advance so that if you receive a job offer you can be confident that you will be ready to take it up.

I think that what is probably best is to have a look and do a bit of research on key players in the organisations you are interested in – people with the title of ‘field’ or ‘organising’ director tend to be looking for the most pairs of hands, but candidates’ social media pages may give you an insight too. Once you have tracked down a list of useful contacts, try and find them on LinkedIn and message them – in situations such as this, a direct message to someone can be far more effective than a general speculative application.


About Bethany Baxter

University of Birmingham Careers Network Student Employability Team Member (Information Team Support Assistant)

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