How volunteering to help a candidate's campaign links to job networking

Volunteering during election time to help a candidate can lead to job experiences, networking opportunities, and sometimes unexpected job leads. It can be a major presidential candidate that you are helping, or even a local candidate-but it is all relevant experience that can matter to a future employer later. So, how does doing volunteer work for a political campaign lead to job networking?

First, gained experience. There are many roles within a campaign, and many people are needed to help fill those roles. You might be doing something as simple as filing paperwork, putting data in a computer, making calls, or knocking on doors for the candidate. All of these can be linked to a number of job roles in the working world: a job in computer science, an administrative assistant, a campaign manager, an office manager, or even beyond. Listing that campaign experience on a resume can translate into what may get you the job you seek later on, as even though the work was not paid.

Most employers can link campaign work to administrative experience without asking you to elaborate. Leadership skills can also be built through the course of a campaign depending on what responsibilities one has and this can be beneficial in the job world as well, perfect for some real-world paid positions.

Working directly for a future campaign. Odds are good that you may meet someone while volunteering that can point you in the right direction to a political job later, either for the candidate you are volunteering for or in another form of work elsewhere. Often there are staff members directing a campaign that can help point you in the right direction to a job, might be watching to see which volunteers perform the best with an eye to retain some as staff, or just know connections to other jobs. While there, perform as best you can and treat volunteer responsibilities as seriously as a paid job. When leaving, ask for references or contacts from people you worked with, and leave your information as well. If you left a favorable impression, odds are very good you might get a call following the campaign.

Consider this volunteer experience as a great networking opportunity, and a way to promote yourself on multiple levels. It might be a wise idea to acquire a journal or small notebook at the beginning of the campaign to jot down notes and names of people, so you not only have a list of people and their contact information but also a few notes about how you met them and what their jobs are. During the course of a campaign you will literally meet dozens of people and after a while it may be difficult to remember exactly who did what and how you met them. These notes will later serve as a refresher for both you and your contact, and give an opening for conversation after the campaign is over.

Meeting people through people. There are going to be floods of people in and out of a campaign office. You may get to meet the candidate in person, but also a number of other people tied to the political party, labor unions, various political organizations, and lots of business and industry. This can be a great way to network and find a job-if you leave a favorable impression! You should not be carrying around a ready-made resume as that can look tacky. But there is nothing wrong with giving out your contact info or even having a few cards in your pocket. Your first and foremost focus should be on the campaign you have volunteered to help, but keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities! Dressing in a semi-professional manner is not a bad idea either, and behavior should be a foremost concern.

You never know who is watching and what they are thinking. Treat this as a job opportunity! Volunteering in a political campaign is much like any other type of volunteering, and a similar experience to interning-with possible future rewards. Enjoy it, learn from it, and hopefully the experience will come to serve you in the future in many ways besides helping a candidate win their office.