I frequently get asked how people can find great political volunteer opportunities. Often, the people asking the question are interested in getting involved in politics as a candidate, committeeperson, or campaign staffer down the line, and want to get some experience to help them make connections and get ahead.
There are lots of different ways to get involved as a volunteer. In my mind, in order for an opportunity to be a good one, it needs to provide good networking opportunities and the chance for advancement (not necessarily to a paid position, but at least to roles with more responsibility after the volunteer proves himself or herself).
Here are three ways to find good political volunteer opportunities that meet these criteria:
#1 – Get Involved with a Very Local Campaign
One of the best ways to get started in politics is by volunteering to work with a very local campaign, such as a race for city council, school board, or local commissioner. This is how I got my start in politics, working on a city council race as a high school student.
The key benefits to working with a small, local campaign are that you will likely have the opportunity to do real, impactful work and that you will have the chance to get to know the candidate and key campaign staff. Win or lose, the connections you make and the work you do will help you find other political opportunities in the future.
#2 – Contact Your Local Municipal Political Party Committee
If you are registered as a member of a political party (and not as an independent or other unaffiliated voter), try contacting your local municipal political party committee. (For example, if you are a Republican, get in touch with your township or city Republican committee.) Local political parties always need help with phone banks, literature drops, and working the polls on Election Day.
The key benefits of volunteering with a local political party are that you will get to know the leadership of your local committee, you will have wide exposure to lots of different candidates and committee people, and you will have the chance to move up the ladder over subsequent election cycles.
#3 – Work with a Presidential Campaign on the Local Level
Another good political volunteer opportunity is working with a national presidential campaign on the local level. National campaigns are organized such that they try to have an on the ground presence in as many places as possible… and particularly in swing states and early primary / caucus states. These grassroots efforts require lots of volunteers to do things like go door to door, place yard signs, ands work phone banks.
While it is unlikely that you will get to know the candidate while volunteering on a presidential race, you will have the chance to connect with lots of other activists in your area and get real, hands-on experience with grassroots campaign activities.
One of the best ways to get started in politics, no matter your age, is to seek out good political volunteer opportunities, work hard, and parlay that experience and those connections into further work in the political arena. Use these tips to help you land a position with a local political party or campaign, and then learn all you can!
Photo Credit: Joe Haupt