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CAREER

OPPORTUNITIES

in

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND ACTIVISM

SECOND EDITION

CAREER

OPPORTUNITIES in
OPPORTUNITIES
in

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND ACTIVISM

SECOND EDITION

JOAN AXELROD-CONTRADA

Foreword by

Congressman

RICHARD E. NEAL

in POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND ACTIVISM SECOND EDITION J OAN A XELROD -C ONTRADA Foreword by Congressman

Career Opportunities in Politics, Government, and Activism, Second Edition

Copyright © 2008 by Joan Axelrod-Contrada

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact:

Ferguson An imprint of Infobase Publishing 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Axelrod-Contrada, Joan. Career opportunities in politics, government, and activism / Joan Axelrod-Contrada ; foreword by Richard E. Neal. — 2nd ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-8160-7089-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0-8160-7089-X (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Civil service—United States. 2. Civil service positions—United States. 3. Public administration—United States. 4. United States—Officials and employees. I. Title.

JK692.A94

2008

320.973023—dc2

2007050775

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Series design by Kerry Casey Cover design by Takeshi Takahashi

Printed in the United States of America

Bang H ermitage 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

CONTENTS
CONTENTS

Foreword v ii Industry Outlook ix Acknowledgments xiii Introduction: How to Use This Book xv

PART I—POLITICS

Political Campaigns

Campaign Manager 4 Finance Director 7 Media Strategist 9 Opposition Researcher 11 Political Consultant 13 Political Party Staffer 16 Pollster 18

Political Office

School Board Member 22 City Councilor 25 Mayor 27 District Attorney 30 State Legislator 3 3 Governor 3 6 U.S. Representative 39 President of the United States 41

PART II—GOVERNMENT

Local/State—General Positions

Administrative Assistant 48 Management Analyst 50 Program Manager 52 Public Information Officer

54

Local Government

Local Political Aide 58 Assessor 6 0 Economic Developer 63 Election Official 66 Housing Specialist 68 Municipal Clerk 70 Recreation Supervisor 7 3 Town/City Manager 75 Urban and Regional Planner 77

Local/State Specialists

Antidiscrimination Worker 80 Auditor 82 Emergency Manager 85

Employment Interviewer/Counselor 89 Environmental Specialist 91 Ethics Investigator 94

Human Services Director

Labor Relations Specialist 99 Public Health Professional

Victim Advocate 105

96

102

State/Federal Legislative Staff

Congressional Page 110 Legislative Correspondent 112 District Aide 114 Legislative Assistant 116 Research Analyst 119 Chief of Staff 122

Other State/Federal Positions

Paralegal 126 Government Lawyer 129

Policy Analyst 132 Press Secretary 135 Speechwriter 137

International Affairs

United Nations Headquarters Intern

Foreign Service Officer

143

140

Intelligence Operative 146

PART III—ACTIVISM

Nonprofit Advocacy and Administration

Program Assistant 152 Program Director 154 Director of Volunteers

156

Communications Director 158 Fund-raiser 160 Program Officer, Foundation

Webmaster 165 Founder, Nonprofit Organization 167 Executive Director 169

163

Public Interest

Canvasser 172 Consumer Activist 174 Environmental Activist 176

Government Reform Activist 1 79

Public Interest Lawyer

181

Community, Social, and International Issues

Community Development Associate Community Organizer 189

Conflict Resolution Specialist

186

191

Human Rights Advocate

194

Peace Worker 197 Women’s Rights Activist

199

Lobbies, Unions, and Associations

Labor Union Organizer

Lobbyist 207 Membership Director, Association

Political Action Committee (PAC) Professional

204

210

212

Service Programs

AmeriCorps Member 216

City Year Corps Member

219

Peace Corp Volunteer

222

APPENDIXES

 

I.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Civil Service and Federal Employment 226

 

II.

Federal Pay Scale and Federal Employment 228

III.

Federal Government Agency Organizational Chart 229

 

IV.

Federal Government Jobs

231

V.

Employment Websites

233

VI.

Graduate School Programs

235

A

.

Public Affairs, Public Administration, Public Policy

235

B.

Nonprofit Management 248

 

C.

Urban and Regional Planning

250

D

. Political/Campaign Management 256

 

E.

Political Science 257

F

.

International Affairs 265

 

VII.

Advocacy Groups 272

 
 

A. Political Parties and Government Reform 272

B. Environment and Consumer Advocacy 273

 

C. Community and Social Issues

273

D. Civil Rights and Liberties

274

E. Peace and International Affairs 275

 

VIII.

How to Run for Political Office— The Basics 276

 

IX.

Trade Publications 278

 

X.

Associations 279

Bibliography 284

Index 287

FOREWORD
FOREWORD

By Congressman Richard E. Neal

Dr. M artin L uther K ing, J r. o nce p roclaimed, “Everybody ca n b e gr eat, b ecause e verybody ca n serve.” This profound notion fueled the civil rights movement, arguably the most im portant advance- ment in Amer ican demo cracy in r ecent memo ry. During this era o f national unrest, many members of my generation answered the call b y running for elected o ffice, organizing rallies a nd marches, and participating in local , state, and national elections. They did s o f or t he co mmon g ood o f t heir f el- low Amer icans and t heir significant contributions greatly shaped our nation. In the years since Dr. King’s passing, many fear that the call to serve has become softer spoken and

less frequently answered. Today, our country faces new c hallenges, b ut t he necessi ty f or indi viduals who a re in spired t o s erve t he p ublic r emains t he

same. B y o utlining t he va rious wa ys in w

people can become engaged in the cause of serving others, author Joan Axelrod-Contrada’s new edition of Career Opportunities in Politics, Government, and Activism p rovides a n invaluable s ervice i tself. The author under stands t hat Amer ica a nd t he vir tues of democracy depend upon active participation of the public and her b ook helps individuals see how they can become more active through service. Ms. Axelrod-Contrada offers, in her own words, “a buf- fet, with jobs, lik e dishes, la id out on a t able,” and I believe she has written a wonderful tool for those who a re h ungry f or a f ulfilling a nd w orthwhile career. Not only does this book list co untless opportu- nities in t he world of public service but Ms. Ax el- rod-Contrada also offers a tr easure chest of advice to help you find a position that fits your aspirations. The jobs she des cribes a re va ried acr oss different

hich

levels o f g overnment, p olitical, a nd ac tivist in sti- tutions. F rom w ork wi th grassr oots ca mpaigns t o running f or elec ted o ffice, t his b ook is filled with unique career opportunities, and perhaps one will capture y our imagina tion. The f uture a nd w ell- being o f o ur na tion will flourish wi th in telligent and passionate public servants, and I hope you will consider politics a noble calling.

tion

Founding

Fathers ca me t ogether no t f or mer it, r ecognition, or monetary reward, but to serve the people of our young na tion. They w ere st atesmen a nd visio nar- ies w ho hel ped sha pe t he b urgeoning Amer ican republic. As a mem ber of the United States House of Representatives, I tr y to follow their example in some small measure every day. While this has been an extremely rewarding and humbling experience,

deeply rooted in Amer ican history. The

Participation in p

ublic s ervice is a tradi

I a m als o v ery p roud t o ha ve had a nother ca reer educating young men and women as a teacher.

choolteacher in S pring-

During m y time as a s

field, M assachusetts, I had t he o pportunity t o s ee firsthand t he c uriosity a nd asp irations o f ma ny students. A s a mem ber o f C ongress, I ha ve tr ied to f oster o pportunities t o hel p a mbitious st udents

enter t he w orld o f p ublic s ervice. M any o f m y former st udents ha ve g one o n t o ca reers s erving others and it brings me great satisfaction to learn of their acco mplishments a nd co ntributions t o s oci- ety. S ome have worked for p olitical o ffices, others for ac tivist gr oups, a nd ma ny ha ve sim ply v olun- teered their time for good causes. But they were all in the arena. One of the great intangibles of public life is you never know what opportunities are on the horizon. When I began my career as a young mayor’s aide, a

future in the United States Congress seemed hard to imagine. After 19 y ears of representing the people of the Second Congressional District of Massachu- setts in t hat historic institution, it has b een a tr uly rewarding experience. I am fortunate to have found such fulfillment in my public life. If you choose to enter this exciting world, I wish you the same success. Take advantage

of t he advice t hat Ms. Ax elrod-Contrada o ffers in her great book and use its resources to your advan- tage. B e a pa rticipant in t he p ublic deba te ra ther than a spectator. The unique American tradition of public service is an honorable and worthy endeavor. And to quote Dr. Seuss, a favorite author from my hometown: “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

INDUSTRY OUTLOOK
INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Why lo ok f or a ca reer in p olitics, g overnment, o r activism? Just a bout e veryone o ffers t he s ame a nswer: t o make a difference. S omething dra ws p eople lik e radar to the pressing issues of our day. Whether they want t o im prove t heir o wn co mmunities, a nalyze policy initiatives, or advocate for social justice, they understand t he importance o f p ublic involvement. People in p olitics, g overnment, a nd ac tivism ha ve

the s atisfaction o f kno wing a t t he end o f t he da y that something they said or wrote could improve the lives of thousands of people. Although p eople t oday ha ve m uch t he s ame desire “ to s erve” as t heir p redecessors, t he p ublic

realm i tself has c

years. On the political front, the waning role of the old-time pa rty b osses has co ntributed t o t he b ur- geoning growth of the relatively new political con- sulting ind ustry. M eanwhile, y ears o f do wnsizing and outsourcing have changed the old government- centered syst em t o a ne w o ne in w hich no nprofit and p rivate o rganizations p lay a p rominent r ole. Jobs once held b y government employees are now contracted out to think tanks, consulting firms, and nonprofit social-service organizations. In The N ew Pu blic S ervice, P aul Li ght, o f th e Brookings I nstitution, des cribes ho w t he “lif er” o f old has given way to the “switcher” of today. Instead of being lost for good, many jobs have simply been reassigned t o other s ectors. S omeone w ho w orked as an analyst for a government agency might, years later, do the same type of work for a think tank with a government contract. It is not uncommon for indi- viduals to move back and forth between sectors. All this is g ood news for you, the job s eeker. As employment has b ecome mo re di versified, differ-

hanged dra matically o ver t he

ent sectors need t o compete more for talent. In the

federal g overnment, ind ustry s ources s ay t hat t he upcoming retirement of thousands of baby boomers will create a need f or new talent. Some government agencies a re o ffering incen tives s uch as t he r epay- ment of student loans to appeal to a new generation of public-spirited ca ndidates als o co urted b y b usi- nesses and nonprofits. Yet, as has a ny ind ustry, p ublic s ervice has i ts drawbacks. G overnment em ployees face t he p res- sure of tr ying to get t hings done w hile navigating bureaucracies and weighing public input. Nonprofit employees co pe wi th t he str ess o f f unding p res- sures a nd sho estring b udgets. P rivate co nsultants contend with the challenges of balancing the public good wi th t he b ottom line . And all face lin gering misconceptions of politics, government, and activ- ism among the very public they are trying to serve. Nevertheless, desp ite lin gering st ereotypes o f corrupt public officials, unimaginative bureaucrats, and wild-e yed ac tivists, obs ervers b elieve t hat a more appreciative view of the public sector may be taking hold. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, p eople w ho had lo ng vie wed government as a n in trusion ha ve co me t o s ee i t

more as a necess

showed leadership. Government rose to new chal-

lenges. And nonprofit organizations mobilized their volunteers.

ary p rotector. Pub lic o fficials

Volunteer ra tes in t

he 21st cen

tury a re a t a

historic hig h, acco rding t o t he C orporation f or National and Community Service. A recent survey by the Council for Excellence in Government and the Gallup Organization showed the broad p opular appeal of careers in p ublic s er- vice. When given the choice between a dream job in

public service and in the private sector, respondents favored the former in the following scenarios:

• Head of the National Endowment for the Arts (59 percent) or Broadway producer (41 percent)

• Federal j udge (73 p ercent) o r la w firm senior partner (27 percent)

• FBI agent (66 percent) or private investigator (34 percent)

Within the world of public service, the path to

elected p olitical o ffice ca n b e pa rticularly difficult and precarious.

or lo ng-term pa id

careers. Many elected officials view their positions

as a “ calling” ra ther t han as a ca

passionate a bout co mmunity issues, f or in stance, might prefer to remain at the local level rather than mount a r isky and expensive bid for higher office. Unlike a ppointed o fficials s uch as ci ty ma nagers who ca n c limb t he ca reer ladder b y mo ving t o progressively la rger communities, elec ted o fficials

generally o nly r un f or o ffice in t he j urisdiction where t hey have est ablished residency. Hence t he opportunities f or a lif etime ca reer as a n elec ted official are extremely rare. Career prospects appear brighter for the behind- the-scenes p rofessionals w ho de vise s trategy f or political ca mpaigns. The r elatively ne w p rofession

of p olitical co nsulting has gr

bounds, as political candidates as well as businesses, interest groups, labor unions, and other organized bodies t urn t o p rofessionals t o p roduce st ate-of- the-art ca mpaigns. The Amer ican A ssociation o f Political C onsultants estima tes t hat mo re t han a billion do llars is sp ent y early o n ca mpaign co m- munication. Political consultants travel in the same circles as lobbyists, political action committee (PAC) admin- istrators, and other up-and-coming political profes- sionals who tend to generate controversy wherever they g o. D epending o n o ne’s p oint o f vie w, t hese political professionals are either dedicated activists or unscrupulous opportunists. Is negative advertis- ing a us eful de vice o r a dir ty tr ick? I s grassr oots

lobbying a n exp ression o r a co rruption o f demo- cratic ide als? Ar e P AC p rofessionals mob ilizing citizens o r hinder ing ca mpaign r eform? P olitical

Few o pportunities exist f

reer. S omeone

own b y le aps a nd

professionals wrestle with these kinds o f questions every day. The adr enaline-charged w orld o f p olitical ca m- paigns might, at times, s eem a w orld apart from the hard w ork o f g overning t hat f ollows. “ Bureaucrats,” as g overnment em ployees ha ve b een called , ha ve changed the face of the world. As the National Asso- ciation of Schools of Public Affairs and Administra- tion obs erves, b ureaucrats ha ve hel ped de velop t he Internet and put a man on the Moon. Although much has been written about govern- ment c utbacks, t he f ederal g overnment r emains the nation’s largest employer, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Hand- book. F ederal ag encies o versee t he en vironment, education, emergency management, public health, and countless other is sues. They set guidelines f or everything from the safety of meat to the amount of money Americans pay each year in income taxes. Many p ositions—program ma nager a nd ma n- agement analyst, for example—can be found at all

levels o f g overnment, b ut st affers a t t he lo cal a nd state le vels a re c loser t o t he r esults o f t heir la bor than their counterparts in t he federal government. They s ee p otholes b eing fixed a nd ne w s chools being b uilt o n t heir wa y ho me f rom w ork. S tate

government, w hich s erves as a link b

local and the federal, has assumed new regulatory powers as a result of the “devolution” of power from

the federal government. Charitable no nprofits a re t he fast est gr owing sector—ahead o f g overnment a nd p rivate ind us- try—in t he na tion, acco rding t o t he I ndependent Sector, a no nprofit, nonpartisan coalition of more than 700 na tional organizations, f oundations, a nd corporate p hilanthropy p rograms. The number of nonprofit o rganizations s oared f rom 739,000 in 1977 to 1.19 million in 1997. Typically, n onprofit organizations offer lower salaries t han g overnment o r t he p rivate s ector

but p rovide t he b enefits o f a casual w

where indi viduals ca n q uickly assume hig h le vels of r esponsibility, ind ustry s ources s ay. Often, i t is easier to find positions in the nonprofit arena than

in government or business. In m any n onprofit o rganizations dedica ted t o social c hange, st affers s erve as jac k-of-all trades activists. A general rule of thumb is that the smaller

etween t he

orkplace

the o rganization—and ma ny a re small—t he mo re likely individuals are to take on a variety of respon- sibilities. A sin gle p erson mig ht r esearch issues, manage p rograms, f und-raise, o rganize grassr oots support, and educate the public. Most important, people must believe in the mis- sion of t heir organizations. Ideas once considered radical—environmental p rotection a nd w omen’s rights, for example—have become widely accepted. Advocacy gr oups p ress f or s ocial c hange w hile nonprofit administrators manage programs to com- bat problems such as h unger and homelessness. A relatively small b ut hig hly influential netw ork o f research in stitutes (t hink t anks), me anwhile, p re- pare r eports o n issues suc h as ed ucation a nd t he economy. Policy experts use the term “wicked problems” to describe the difficult challenges ahead. Eradicating poverty. Managing global climate change. Address-

ing terrorism. These problems are so complex and intractable, t hey def y sim ple s olutions. T alented people are needed to tackle them. According to the National A ssociation o f S chools o f Pub lic Affairs and Administration, the employment demand for a new generation of professionals to provide leader- ship, financial ma nagement, p olicy a nalysis, a nd other skills has never been stronger. You, too, can be part of this world. Whether you want to work in Washington, D.C., or a small town in rural America, the opportunities are there. You could design political polls, help victims of disaster, research legislation, or direct programs for a no n- profit advocacy organization. The list g oes on and on. As long as you have a zest for hard work, you’ll be able to find just the right niche for your talents and interests. This book is j ust the beginning. The possibilities are endless, s o go out there and make a difference!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Special Thanks

Before I ac knowledge the many professionals who contributed to the research of this new edition, I’d like t o t hank a sp ecial gr oup o f p eople f or t heir incredible support. First, I’d like to thank my hus- band, F reddy, a f ellow wr iter, f or under standing what it’s like to wade through piles of information. Next, I’d like to express my gratitude to my editors, James Cha mbers a nd Sa rah F ogarty, a t F acts On File, Inc., for their help. And, finally, I’d like to give my most he artfelt thanks to Congressman Richard E. N eal a nd his st aff f or wr iting suc h a n in spira- tional foreword. In addition, my appreciation goes to the follow- ing p eople w ho g enerously assist ed me wi th t heir time and knowledge: Jerry Austin (Media Strategist, Cleveland, Ohio); Deborah Barak (National Organi- zation for Victim Assistance); Julio Barreto (National Association o f H ousing a nd Rede velopment Offi- cials); M eredith B ridgers (N ational Recr eation and P ark A ssociation); Dr. M artha B urk (National Council of Women’s Organizations); Jason Chmura (Society f or N onprofit Or ganizations); S ebia Cla rk (International Ci ty/County M anagement A ssocia- tion); L isa D aniels (I nternational A ssociation o f Assessing Officers); Erik Devereux (Association for Public P olicy Anal ysis a nd M anagement); W al- ter D avis (N ational Or ganizers Allia nce); Ro nald Deverman (National Association of Environmental Professionals); M onica Dig ham (Amer ican S oci- ety o f A ssociation Ex ecutives); D ouglas Duc kett (National Public Employer Labor Relations Associa-

tion); James Duffy (Media Strategist, Strother-Duffy- Strother); I rvin F oster (N ational A ssociation f or Community Mediation); Gail Garbrandt (University of Akr on); D ottie G ray (N ational S chool B roads Association); Jean Halloran (Consumer Policy Insti- tute); Talib Hudson (American Economic Develop- ment Council); Katie Burnham Laverty (Society for Nonprofit Or ganizations); J eff Litchfield (Associa- tion of Local Government Auditors); Joshua Miller (Smith C ollege S chool o f S ocial W ork); An gela McMillen (Fundraising Consultant, AM Consulting LLC); Jim Melton (National Association of Environ- mental Professionals); Erika Peck (Finance Director, PRH Consulting Group, Inc.); Joyce Pratt (American Association o f Affirmative A ction); J ennifer Pug h (American League of Lobbyists); Douglas Robinson (NeighborWorks Amer ica); N icholas Ro per (C on- gressman Ric hard E. N eal); G ene Ros e (N ational Conference o f S tate L egislatures); S herri Ro wland (National Association of State Auditors, C omptrol- lers, a nd Treasurers); K risti Rudelius-Palmer (Uni- versity of Minnesota Human Rights Center); Connie Schmidt (E lection C onsultant, S pring H ill, KS); Janice Shields (American Friends Service Commit- tee); J ason S tanford (O pposition Res earcher, S tan- ford Research); Tim Storey (National Conference of State Legislatures); Scott Talan (National Association of S chools o f Pub lic Affairs and Administration); Carolyn Torma (Amer ican Pla nning A ssociation); William Tranghese (Congressman Richard E. Neal); Sean Twombly (American Political Science Associa- tion); B rian Weberg (National C onference o f S tate Legislatures).

INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCTION

How to Use This Book

Welcome t o a w orld of p ossibilities. Whether y ou dream of running for political office, planning cit- ies, monitoring legislation, fighting for a ca use, or joining the Peace Corps, this book should help you get started. The possibilities are endless. You could start out as a congressional page and work your way up to president of the United States. This b ook was wr itten f or t he p ractical ide alist, someone who wants to know what it takes to make a difference. B eyond t hat, ho wever, t he jobs in t his book are widely varied, appealing to a variety of types of people: political junkies, public servants, program specialists, p olicy w onks, gr assroots ac tivists, s ocial entrepreneurs, and adventurers, to name a few.

What’s New in the Second Edition?

This s econd edi tion inc ludes five ho t ne w jobs. First, in t he Political C ampaigns s ection of Part I, are three new positions in the burgeoning world of political consulting: Opposition Researcher, Media Strategist, and Finance Director. Next, in t he Non- profit Advocacy and Administration section of Part III, is Webmaster, a p osition reflecting the growth of t he I nternet. F inally, in t he S ervice P rograms section of Part III is a p rofile of City Year Member. In addi tion, all ca reer inf ormation f rom t he first edition, including salaries and contact information, has b een u pdated. F inally, ne w r esources, suc h as Internet sites and distance learning programs, have been added for your convenience.

Sources of Information

This b ook required extensive research in a va riety of sources to capture the depth and complexity of these jobs. Sources include

• Industry professionals, including representatives of national associations and working professionals

• Association and employment websites

• Books, magazines, and newspaper articles

• College career centers

When p eople s ay t hat t here is a n ass ociation for e verything, t hey a re r ight. And t hat is g ood news f or job s eekers. The w ebsites o f p rofessional associations a re v eritable g old mines o f inf orma- tion. Many post job listin gs, helpful career advice, and ne ws a bout u pcoming co nferences a nd o ther networking opportunities. The Internet also has given rise to broader-based employment w ebsites t hat s erve as vir tual ca reer counselors. N onprofit em ployment si tes suc h as Idealist.org allow viewers to punch in keywords like activism/organizing a nd a field like environmental and see job openings around the country. Yet, for all t he wonders of mo dern technology, there is no substi tute for c urling up on t he couch with a g ood boo k. The r esearch f or t his b ook involved co untless tr ips t o lib raries a nd s chool career centers.

How This Book Is Organized

Career O pportunities i n P olitics, Go vernment, a nd Activism is o rganized in to t hree ma in ca tegories, even t hough r eal lif e defies suc h sim ple gr oup- ings. In reality, the three sectors often overlap. For instance, Lobbyist, which is in the Activism section of the book because of its links to nonprofit organi- zations and interest groups, could easily have been included in t he Politics s ection alongside Political Consultant.

As a r esult, this book is a lo t like a b uffet, with jobs, lik e dishes, la id o ut o n a t able—the t able of C ontents, t hat is. B e sur e t o b rowse all o f t he Contents so you don’t miss a nything. If a job ti tle strikes you, chances are t hat you are on t he r ight track, no matter where in t he book the position is described.

The Job Profiles

Career Profile and Career Ladder

Each job profile begins with a chart for easy brows- ing. The Career Profile on the left summarizes the main duties, alternate titles, salary ranges, employ- ment p rospects, a nd p rerequisites o f ed ucation, experience, and special skills. The Career Ladder diagram on the right shows a typ ical ca reer p ath, inc luding t he p ositions above and b elow e ach job. If a job is en try le vel, the positions of Student, Intern, or Volunteer often precede it.

Position Description

Ever y effort has been made to provide well-rounded

descriptions t hat nei ther g lamorize no r denigra te jobs that are sometimes controversial, bureaucratic-

sounding, a nd p erplexing t o o utsiders. The

tion D escription us es p lain a nd sim ple la nguage to a nswer q uestions suc h as W hat’s a typ ical da y like? What kinds of questions need to be answered? What types of projects are handled? Each job in this book involves a mix o f r esponsibilities, w hich a re often bulleted for easy reading.

Posi-

Salaries

Salary ra nges a re bas ed o n ei ther sur veys b y national ass ociations o r t he U .S. D epartment o f Labor’s B ureau o f L abor S tatistics o r es timates b y knowledgeable s ources. S ometimes, t hough, s ala- ries might rise or fall a bit in response to economic or political changes. Also, you might find jobs that fall b elow o r a bove t he g eneral ra nge, as s alaries vary f rom o ne em ployer a nd g eographic lo cation to the next.

Employment Prospects

Employment p rospects f or job s eekers a re ra nked on a s cale f rom p oor t o fa ir, g ood, o r ex cellent. When em ployees r etire o r ne w jobs a re cr eated,

employment prospects generally improve for new- comers. Also, expect same changes due to economic or political trends. However, do not despair if a job you are interested in has a rating of “poor.” Personal determination can help you get the job, even if the going is not easy.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects deal with your chances of

moving up once you get the job. Often, job holders

can move in a variety of directions—private, public,

and no nprofit—good ne ws f or a nyone wi th a fa ir amount of ambition or wanderlust.

Education, Experience, Personality Traits

For s ome p ositions, grad uate degr ees a re im por-

tant, whereas for others experience is k ey. Because civil service exams are not required by most federal jobs and vary so much from one municipality and

state to the next, t hey are rarely mentioned in t his section. Instead, this topic is addr essed in A ppen-

dix I: F requently Asked Questions about the Civil

Service. On a mo

mitment, and hard work count for a gr eat de al in

this field. If you are looking for an easy, uncompli- cated job, you are in t he wrong place. The jobs in

this b ook a re men tally a nd emo tionally c halleng-

ing. Em ployers wa nt p eople dedica ted eno ugh t o weather t he ine vitable s etbacks t hat c haracterize working for the public good.

Unions and Associations

Professional ass ociations (a nd s ome unio ns) p ro- vide valuable information and services to job seek-

ers, including job p ostings, conferences, and other

networking p ossibilities. I n addi tion, ass ociations

he N ational A ssociation o f S chools o f

such as t

Public Affairs and Administration link colleges and universities in particular fields of study.

Tips for Entry

This section provides valuable advice on ways to get

your foot in t he door, find jobs, and locate sources

for addi tional inf ormation. S ources r epeatedly

mention t he im portance o f v olunteer exp erience, whether i t is co mmunity s ervice, a n in ternship,

participation in a p olitical pa rty, hel p o n a p oliti-

cal campaign, grassroots organizing, or something

re p ersonal le vel, dedica tion, co m-

else. The opportunities abound, so get involved in whatever way most suits your interests.

Appendixes

The A ppendixes a re g eared t o hel ping y ou lo cate the inf ormation y ou mig ht wa nt b ut do n’t kno w how to find. How to Run for Political Office—the Basics is a st ep-by-step guide t o w hat is r equired to get your name on the ballot and your campaign headed f or vic tory. The s ection F requently A sked Questions a bout t he Ci vil S ervice dem ystifies the process of applying for government jobs. Other A ppendixes p rovide inf ormation a bout the f ederal g overnment’s pa y s cale, em ployment

Graduate

offices, and organizational structure. The

School Programs Appendix lists na mes, addresses, phone numbers, and websites of higher-education programs, including those in p ublic affairs, public administration, a nd p ublic p olicy. Ot her A ppen- dixes outline

• Professional associations

• Employment websites

• Advocacy organizations, including political parties

• Trade publications

The Internet

The Internet has r evolutionized t he world of job- hunting. You can go on-line f rom your computer

chool o r p ublic lib rary—and

find professional associations, surf library catalogs, and browse job ads. All t he websites mentioned in this book were accessible when it was b eing writ- ten. H owever, s ometimes w eb addr esses c hange,

so if you find one that does not work, try scanning the home page for a new location. Another option is to enter keywords into a s earch engine such as Google.com.

at ho me—or in a s

This Book Is Yours

By picking up this book, you already have taken the first st ep t oward finding a r ewarding ca reer. C url up on the couch and have fun reading it. You’ll be surfing the Net and pounding the pavement before long, I promise. The jobs in t his book will allow you to use your mind a nd s atisfy y our s oul. S o k eep o n r eading. And get involved in something to make the world a better place. The job of your dreams will follow. Good luck!

PART I POLITICS
PART I
POLITICS
POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS
POLITICAL
CAMPAIGNS

CAMPAIGN MANAGER

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Resp onsible f or o verall ca mpaign ma nage- ment, inc luding dra fting t he ca mpaign p lan, p ri- oritizing st aff ac tivities, a nd o verseeing ca mpaign operations Alternate T itle(s): Ca mpaign C oordinator, Ca mpaign Director Salary R ange: $0 t o $8,000/mo nth f or a pproximately six months Employment Prospects: Fair Advancement Prospects: Good Best Geographical Location(s): Campaigns for state or national office Prerequisites:

Education or Training—Bachelor’s degree or higher preferred

CAREER LADDER Position in Candidate’s Administration Campaign Manager Campaign Staffer Experience—Two to 10 years
CAREER LADDER
Position in Candidate’s Administration
Campaign Manager
Campaign Staffer
Experience—Two to 10 years

ersonality T raits—Able t o

work well with the candidate; politically savvy; well organized; ener getic; o ptimistic; g oal-oriented;

Special S kills and P

ethical

Position Description

Campaign M anagers p rovide t he o verall co ordination and direction needed to take their candidates to victory on E lection D ay. Al though ca ndidates ma y ha ve v eto power o ver s ome k ey decisio ns, C ampaign M anagers usually have authority over everything else. Campaign Managers he ad u p t he va rious elemen ts o f t he ca m- paign—fund-raising, f ield o perations, a nd ad vertis- ing, a mong t hem—allowing st aff a nd k ey v olunteers to make their own decisions about details of operation. Campaign Managers work to ensure that all t hese dif- ferent elements mesh smoothly and on time. Sometimes, p olitical co nsultants do uble as C am- paign Managers. In general, though, Campaign Manag- ers work intensively on one campaign at a time whereas political co nsultants j uggle a va riety o f ca mpaigns a t once. Sometimes, too, Campaign Managers hire politi- cal consultants for specialized tasks such as f und-rais- ing o r ad vertising. Ano ther p ossibility is f or t he tw o to work side b y side o n t he s ame campaign, as p oliti- cal co nsultants p rovide s easoned ad vice t o C ampaign Managers c hosen f or t heir ties t o t he distr ict a nd t he candidate. Because the position of Campaign Manager requires considerable experience, most individuals have worked their wa y u p t o i t, st arting o ut as v olunteers o r lo w- level staffers. From there, they assume more responsible

positions, including field coordinator, finance director, and assistant campaign manager. The typ ical ca mpaign s eason r uns f rom A pril t o November, wi th t he C ampaign M anager o n call 24 hours a da y. On as suming the position, the Campaign Manager usually helps the candidate draft a ca mpaign plan, a blueprint for the next s everal months. Over the course of the campaign, the Campaign Manager’s role shifts f rom t hinker t o do er, as he o r she mo ves f rom drafting to implementing the plan. Days are usually packed with ac tivity, as t he C am- paign M anager tra vels wi th t he ca ndidate t o en sure that everything runs smoothly. If, for instance, the can- didate needs “ talking p oints” o n eco nomic p olicy, t he Campaign Manager should be able instantly to produce the necessary piece of paper. A typ ical day might start at 6 a.m. with a trip to the coffee shop or a morning talk show. Af ter a n e vent, t he C ampaign M anager mig ht coach the candidate, offering advice like “You’re speak- ing too loudly” or “Slow down and take a deep breath.” Because da ys a re s o f ull, t he nig httime ho urs p ro- vide t he o pportunity f or stra tegizing a nd ca tching u p on odds and ends. In the middle of the night, the can- didate might call with a new plan for mobilizing voters or a quick reminder that a local family of supporters is expecting a lawn sign.

Back in t he office, the C ampaign Manager recruits supporters a nd ca mpaign st aff a nd ex ecutes t he ca m- paign plan. The plan, for instance, might call for a set of newspaper ads in August. By then, the Campaign Man- ager should already know how much the ads will cos t and what they are going to say. In addition, Campaign Managers orchestrate quick responses to changing con- ditions, ensure that all campaign work is done properly and o n time , a nd mo nitor f inances t o st ay wi thin t he campaign’s budget.

Salaries

Industry specialists say that salaries vary by the level of office s ought b y t he ca ndidate—the hig her t he o ffice, the higher the salary of the C ampaign Manager. Most campaigns r un f rom A pril t o N ovember, al though presidential campaigns are generally considerably lon- ger—about 18 months. Whereas many Campaign Managers at the local level are un paid, t hose w orking f or st ate legisla tive ca ndi- dates generally earn between $500 and $2,000 a month, although ca ndidates in la rger st ates mig ht pa y mo re. Campaign M anagers f or U .S. H ouse races g enerally earn about $5,000 a mo nth or $30,000 for a six-month cycle; t hose f or S enate a nd gub ernatorial ca mpaigns generally earn about $6,000 or $7,000 a month, accord- ing t o C ostas P anagopoulos, ex ecutive dir ector o f t he Political Campaign Management Program at New York University.

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are fair because Campaign Man- agers must compete for a limi ted number of positions, some of w hich mig ht go to t heir more s easoned p eers in the political consulting industry. Typically, Campaign Managers head up three to five campaigns before choos- ing a more steady line of work, insiders say. Some Cam- paign Managers land high-level positions in government such as c hief of staff or press secretary. Others become political pa rty o peratives o r p olitical co nsultants. S till others return to t heir original line o f work, w hether it is law, education, or something else. Rarely does a Cam- paign Manager spend 20 to 30 years in the field.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects are good because a solid record of winnin g elec tions o pens u p do ors. A s uccessful Campaign Manager can advance to larger, more influ- ential races o r la nd a p osition in W ashington, D .C., or t he st ate ho use. S ometimes C ampaign M anagers who have handled several races a nd/or had addi tional

training become political consultants. Sometimes, too, Campaign Managers decide to run for office. They also might la nd a k ey p osition in t he winnin g ca ndidate’s administration or meet inf luential people on the cam- paign trail who can help them advance their careers.

Education and Training

Although ha nds-on exp erience is vi tal, in siders agr ee that a bac kground in cer tain academic a reas ca n b e helpful. C ostas P anagopoulos, ex ecutive dir ector o f the Political C ampaign Management P rogram at New York University, recommends that undergraduates take courses in political science, communications, and mar- keting. As p olitical ca mpaigns ha ve b ecome incr easingly complex, ne w degr ee-granting p rograms a nd sho rter

intensives ha ve sp routed u p in t he f ield o f p olitical management. P rograms a re o ffered t hrough uni ver-

sities, ind ustry o rganizations suc h as

Elections M agazine a nd t he Amer ican A ssociation o f Political Consultants, and the national and state politi- cal parties.

Campaigns &

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Campaign exp erience is cr ucial, as C ampaign Manag- ers perform the role of generals heading up an army of campaign workers and volunteers. Although the Cam- paign Manager need no t be an expert in all asp ects of the campaign, he or she should be familiar enough with each o f t he va rious elemen ts t o mak e inf ormed deci- sions. Most C ampaign M anagers ha ve w orked in a p osi- tion of responsibility in a t least one or two campaigns, although they need not have held the top position. For instance, someone might go from being finance direc- tor of a U.S. Senator’s campaign to becoming Campaign Manager for a candidate for U.S. Representative. On a personal level, the Campaign Manager must be able to work well with the candidate. Insiders say that candidates generally spend more time with their Cam- paign Manager than with their spouse. The C ampaign Manager should have the candidate’s total trust. Campaign Managers also should be politically savvy, well o rganized, ener getic, a nd g oal-oriented. Their number one goal: winning the election. However, they should not compromise their strong sense of ethics in the process. Some Campaign Managers have lost t heir membership in p rofessional ass ociations b y en gaging in unet hical ac tivities s uch as sp ying o n t he o pposi- tion. In addition, Campaign Managers should be able to

delegate r esponsibilities a nd mo tivate st aff e ven w hen prospects for the candidate look grim. “The n umber o ne f law o f C ampaign M anagers is that they try to do t oo much,” said Costas Panagopou- los, executive director of the Political Campaign Man- agement Program at New York University. “They need to be able to delegate to competent team players.”

Unions and Associations

There a re no unio ns o r ass ociations sp ecifically f or Campaign M anagers, al though s tate po litical pa rties provide im portant tra ining a nd netw orking o pportu- nities. S ome C ampaign M anagers als o b elong t o t he American Association of Political Consultants.

Tips for Entry

1. Volunteer for a candidate’s campaign.

2. Become active in local organizations and/or your political party.

3. Network: in t his, as in ma ny p olitical p ositions, jobs are rarely advertised.

4. Read more about jobs in ca mpaign management by b rowsing t he P olitical Res ources On-L ine jobs b oard (h ttp://www.politicalresources.com), checking ou t Campaigns & Ele ctions Magazine, and/or reading The Campaign Manager by Cath- erine Golden or other books cataloged under the keyword campaign.

FINANCE DIRECTOR

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Researching potential donors, soliciting funds, planning f und-raising e vents, k eeping r ecords o f campaign contributions Alternate Title(s): Fund-raiser Salary Range: $1,000 to $5,000 a month Employment Prospects: Excellent Advancement Prospects: Excellent Best G eographical L ocation(s): W ashington D .C., state capitals Prerequisites:

Education or Training—Bachelor’s degree or higher Experience—One year Special Sk ills and P ersonality Traits—Detail-ori- ented, well-organized, and tenacious

CAREER LADDER Political Appointment or Independent Consultant Finance Director for Candidate Intern, Volunteer
CAREER LADDER
Political Appointment or
Independent Consultant
Finance Director for Candidate
Intern, Volunteer Fund-raiser,
Campaign Worker

Position Description

Finance Directors raise the funds needed to keep cam- paigns r unning. Without t heir hard work, many cam- paigns would come to a grinding halt. Often, Finance Directors start out working on low- level races. Many candidates contact a fund-raising con- sulting firm, which in turn, chooses a Finance Director for t he client. Firms often hire ne w Finance Directors

on a temporary basis. If the individual does a good job, he o r she mig ht b e ask ed t o st ay wi th t he co nsulting firm or join the winning candidate’s administration. Although the idea of asking people for money makes many individuals nervous, Finance Directors rarely do cold calling. Instead, they work from campaign finance lists furnished by the Secretary of State’s office. If for example, a ne w Republican candidate is r un- ning for State Representative, the Finance Director will get records from the Secretary of State of contributors from t he p revious ca ndidate. Als o, F inance Dir ectors solicit mem bers o f ind ustry gr oups a ffected b y p oliti- cal p olicy as p ersonal acq uaintances, s uch as co llege friends, of the client. Finance Directors research p otential donors b efore they solicit them. By surfing the Internet, for instance, the F inance Dir ector mig ht f ind t hat a p rospective

donor has pa rticipated in a lo

cal c harity. S uccessful

Finance Directors find ways to link the donor’s interests to the candidate’s concerns, s o that money rolls in f or the ca mpaign. The y w ork c losely wi th t he ca ndidate’s

campaign ma nager t o meet f und-raising g oals. F or instance, the campaign manager might let t he Finance Director know about the cost o f a s eries of T V ads t o increase the candidate’s public exposure. On a typ ical da y, F inance Dir ectors sp end a fa ir amount of time o n the phone, “selling” the candidate. Since t hey’re o ften callin g p revious co ntributors, t hey might b egin with words along t he lines o f, “I’d like to thank y ou f or y our past su pport.” F inance Dir ectors need t o b e w ell-versed in t he ca ndidate’s bac kground and views on the issues. Usually, in t he partisan world of p olitics, F inance Dir ectors w ork f or ei ther D emo- cratic o r Rep ublican ca ndidates. E very mo nth, t he Finance Director needs t o f ile reports with t he S ecre- tary of State’s office. Finance Dir ectors s olicit dif ferent typ es o f do nors differently. F or lo w-level do nors, a ma il s olicitation often works well. Mid-level donors, on the other hand, like to be invited to events. Organizing a big fund-rais- ing event is lik e planning a w edding. Myriad arrange- ments need to be made: the venue rented, refreshments ordered, and invitations sent out. The ca ndidate is t he guest of honor. Af ter t he e vent, t hank-you notes need to be mailed. While f und-raising e vents a ttract ma ny mid-le vel donors, high-end donors often like to meet individually with the candidate. For instance, the Finance Director might take the prospective donor and candidate out to dinner. During the conversation, the Finance Director

can mak e k ey p oints s o t hat t he ca ndidate need no t come across as immodest. Finance Dir ectors w ork lo ng ho urs in t he mo nths before a n e lection. Da tabases n eed t o be co nstantly updated and checks deposited. The ultimate reward for the Finance Director’s hard work is a vic tory on Elec- tion Day.

Salaries

nth,

with ca mpaigns f or hig her-level o ffice g enerally pa y- ing mo re t han t hose f or lo wer-level races. T ypically, Finance Dir ectors a re co ntracted t o w ork f rom a bout July 1 to November 8. Often, Finance Directors will be awarded a bonus if the candidate wins.

Salaries va ry f rom a bout $1,000 t o $5,000 a mo

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are excellent because candidates need Finance Directors to raise money for t heir cam- paigns. Many Finance Directors land political appoint- ments o r grad uate t o la rger ca mpaigns, t hus cr eating new o penings f or job s eekers. F inance Dir ectors w ho prove themselves in lo w-level races a re often hired for permanent positions with consulting firms.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects are excellent because successful Finance Directors are in hig h demand. Finance Direc- tors typ ically w ork t heir wa y u p f rom small t o la rger campaigns, wi th co ntracts b ecoming mo re l ucrative along t he wa y. M any ca ndidates als o o ffer a f inancial bonus for winning. Another possible bonus is a job in t he winning can- didate’s administra tion. A F inance Dir ector f or a suc- cessful candidate might be hired as chief of staff for the new administra tion. H owever, suc h p olitical a ppoint- ments carry little long-term security. Many Finance Directors become independent fund- raising consultants. Whether working solo or starting a sizeable firm, they typically earn a p ercentage (e.g., 25 percent) o f t he mo ney t hey ra ise. M any f und-raising consultants offer a va riety of services (e.g., grant-writ- ing) for nonprofits and special interest groups as well as for political campaigns.

Education and Training

A college degree is generally required for this position.

Although a ma jor in eco nomics or p olitical s cience is

not necess ary, suc h co urses ca n b e hel pful. A va riety

of groups—including the Secretary of State’s office, the

Democratic and Republican parties, and universities— offer seminars and other training programs for people interested in careers in political campaigns.

Experience, Skill, and Personality Traits

Many F inance Dir ectors st art o ut as ca mpaign w ork- ers, in terns, o r assist ant f inance dir ectors. A y ear o f campaign experience usually qualifies an individual for a p osition as a F inance Dir ector f or a lo w-level ca m- paign or as an assistant finance director for a larger one. The larger the race, the more experience the individual needs to assume the role of Finance Director. Finance Directors need to be well-organized, detail- oriented, and tenacious. Even when fund-raising pros- pects appear dim, they must keep on going, refusing to quit.

Unions and Associations

Finance Directors might belong to the American Asso-

ciation of Political Consultants, the International Asso- ciation of Political Consultants, and/or the Association

of Fundraising Professionals.

Tips for Entry:

1. Become familiar with database software. Because Finance Directors use computers to keep donor records, learning this skill will gi ve you a leg u p in this field.

2. Get an internship with the highest-profile politi- cal campaign you can.

3. L ook for training c lasses or w orkshops offered by y our S ecretary o f S tate’s o ffice o r p olitical party. In addition, Campaigns & Elections maga- zine offers classes every summer in Washington, D.C.

4. Familiarize y ourself wi th t he ca mpaign la ws posted on your Secretary of State’s website.

5. Browse em ployment w ebsites, usin g t he k ey- words “political campaign jobs.”

MEDIA STRATEGIST

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Creating and producing campaign ads, helping the candidate hone his o r her mess age and prepare for debates, buying and coordinating ad spots, solic- iting new clients

Alternate T itle(s): M edia C

Account Representative Salary Range: $75,000 to $150,000 Employment Prospects: Fair Advancement Prospects: Fair Best G eographical L ocation(s): W ashington, D .C., major cities Prerequisites:

onsultant, A ssociate,

Education or Training—College degree or higher Experience—Several y ears o f exp erience in volv- ing p olitical ca mpaigns, T V p roduction, a nd/or journalism

CAREER LADDER Partner or Founder of Media Consulting Firm Media Strategist Campaign Staffer, Journalist, TV/Film
CAREER LADDER
Partner or Founder of Media
Consulting Firm
Media Strategist
Campaign Staffer, Journalist,
TV/Film Production Worker
Special Skills and Personality Traits—Good com-
munication skills, strong political instincts, ability to
translate messages into visual images, willingness to
work long hours

Position Description

Media S trategists de velop T V ads a nd o ther f orms o f communication for political campaigns. In t he b road f ield o f p olitical co nsulting, M edia Strategists are the communication exp erts. The y work in a highly collaborative environment to craft the cam- paign’s messages and bring them to the public. Produc- ing a political ad is no simple matter. Often, the process begins with a s eries of conference calls. W hat do t he ca ndidate, ca mpaign ma nager, a nd pollster want the TV, radio, and print ads to accomplish? Should o ne o f t he ads hig hlight t he ca ndidate’s f olksy background, another describe plans to reform education, and yet another feature testimonials from the public? Or should everything revolve around one theme? With such questions in mind , t he Media Strategist comes up with a concept for three or four ads. I ndividuals in t his field create ads f or all f orms of media—TV, radio, print, and direct-mail—but TV ads generally take the most time. Media Strategists send their ideas of ads to the client and key personnel for review. The reviewers write com- ments and send the ideas back for revision. The Media Strategist t hen r evises t hem un til t hey win a pproval. In the case of a T V ad, this process takes the form of a “concept script,” which shows how ideas will b e devel- oped visually.

The next st ep is t o b egin p lanning f or t he ac tual shoot. Usually, this means lining up a f ilm crew to do the camera work as well as arranging for the candidate and others to be available at various times for the shoot. Like a movie being shot on location, TV campaign ads require a great deal of advanced planning. Take, for example, a “testimonial” ad in w hich citi- zens say why they support a particular candidate. In the case of an ad that focuses on the candidate’s support of public hig her ed ucation, t he M edia S trategist w ould want t o f ind st udents willin g t o v oice t heir su pport. The Media Strategist would then interview several col- lege students to see what they had to say. After picking the best students for the ad, the Media Strategist would decide on a va riety of lo cations—perhaps on the ath- letic field, in a dorm room, and at the engineering lab. In t he cas e of outdoor lo cations, t he Media Strategist would need to factor in the possibility of rain. Often media f irms have their own in-house editors to help with t he f inal st ages of t he ad. Once t he ad is completed, t he M edia S trategist s ends i t t o t he c lient and/or key campaign staff for approval. The ad mig ht need to be tweaked. Finally, when everyone is satisfied, the Media Strategist works on the actual placement of the spot. The individual tries to arrange for the ad to air when it can win over targeted groups of voters.

Media S trategists als o write sp eeches, hel p ca n- didates ho ne t heir mess ages, a nd p repare t hem f or debates. Dur ing no nelection y ears, a M edia S trate- gist is apt to be work on campaigns for corporations, associations, and other interest groups. Media Strate- gists also use their slow times t o recruit new clients. Usually, p otential c lients wa nt t o s ee s amples o f t he Media S trategist’s w ork. The w ork sp eaks f or i tself, and, if successf ul, t he M edia S trategist la nds a ne w account.

Salaries

Salaries vary according to exp erience and t he amount of b usiness t he f irm g enerates. B ig, p restigious f irms generally pay the highest salaries. Because work is done on a contract basis, Media Strategists who have worked in campaigns can bring in b usiness with them. Gener- ally, Media Strategists in W ashington, D.C. and major cities make higher salaries than those in mo re out-of- the-way locales.

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are fair because there are a rela- tively small n umber o f media co nsulting f irms. One good way to break into consulting is t o first work as a press secretary or communications director for a politi- cal campaign. Since many political junkies meet on the campaign tra il, a p ress s ecretary o r co mmunications director is a pt to come into contact with a media co n- sulting firm that might eventually have an opening.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement p rospects a re fa ir b ecause o f t he co m- petitive nature of the field. Media Strategists rise or fall based o n t he q uality o f t heir w ork. S uccessful M edia Strategists generally become partners or start their own firms.

Education and Training

With the rise of graduate schools in p olitical manage- ment, a n incr easing n umber o f M edia S trategists a re entering the field with master’s degrees. However, expe- rience and talent can be as useful as advanced degrees.

ilm p roduction,

Employers lo ok f or exp erience in f

political campaigns, and/or journalism. Ideally a candi- date will have experience in two or three of these fields.

Experience, Skill, and Personality Traits

Media Strategist generally have backgrounds in p oliti- cal ca mpaigns, T V a nd f ilm p roduction, a nd/or jo ur- nalism. Firms look for political junkies who can think visually and communicate well. Media S trategists need t o “ sell t hemselves” t o g et accounts. They should be able to develop a rapport with prospective c lients a nd, once hired, q uickly ga in t heir trust. M edia S trategists sho uld b e t he typ e o f p eople who stay calm w hen problems arise, as t hey inevitable will. A thick skin also comes in handy as Media Strate- gists are often blamed if a ca ndidate’s popularity flags. During election years, long hours are the norm.

Unions and Associations

Many Media Strategists belong to the American Asso- ciation of Political Consultants and/or the International Association of Political Consultants.

Tips for Entry

1. Get p olitical ca mpaign exp erience, ide ally as a press secretary.

2. Seek a n in ternship wi th a p olitical co nsulting firm or TV/firm production company.

3. Watch TV news and talk shows that feature politi- cal guests to see how candidates handle the media.

4. Keep abreast of new developments in communi- cation such as podcasts.

OPPOSITION RESEARCHER

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Conducting research on the candidate and oppo- nent via the Internet, library, public records, and other methods; wr iting co mprehensive r eports; p roviding research f or rapid response t o attacks on ca ndidate; and responding to campaign staff’s calls for research Alternate T itle(s): Pub lic Reco rds Anal yst, Res earch Director Salary Range: $30,000 to $250,000 Employment Prospects: Good Advancement Prospects: Good Best Geographical Location(s): Washington, D.C. Prerequisites:

Education or Training—Bachelor’s degree or above

CAREER LADDER President of Own Company, Campaign Manager Opposition Researcher Journalist, Campaign Worker, Intern
CAREER LADDER
President of Own Company,
Campaign Manager
Opposition
Researcher
Journalist, Campaign Worker, Intern
Experience—A year or two
Special Sk ills and P ersonality Traits—Good writ-
ing a nd o rganizing skills, a n ag gressive s ense o f
curiosity, top-notch political instincts, discretion

Position Description

Some p eople call t hem “dirt dig gers.” Or “ mud slin g- ers.” Or e ven “ character ass assinators.” N evertheless, Opposition Researchers are finding increasingly fertile ground in the political landscape. Some o f t he incr ease co mes f rom ne w attempts t o professionalize t he ind ustry. The o ld a mateurs w ho traded in r umor and intrigue have given way to mod- ern-day Op position Res earchers w ho ha ve mo re in common with librarians than spies. They spend much of t heir time dig ging t hrough p ublic r ecords, do cu- menting facts. Although politicians can be hurt by the perception of “going negative,” Opposition Researchers can a void t ainting t heir c lients b y r eleasing inf orma- tion to the media, w hich has mo re of a r eputation for neutrality. S ome media o utlets lac k t he r esources f or their own investigative reporters and so welcome out- side research. The term “Opposition Researcher” is somewhat of a misnomer, as individuals conduct extensive research on their own clients as well as the opposition. If candidates do not reveal their own “dirt,” they can be caught off- guard w hen t he o pposition do es. F ending o ff a ttacks can be deadly in the heat of a campaign. Many Op position Res earchers b egin t heir w ork by si tting down wi th t he c lient a nd askin g a q uestion such as, “What kind of nasty things might someone say against y ou?” Then t hey do t heir own dig ging, w hich usually begins with a co uple days of Internet research.

Armed wi th le ads f rom t he Web, t hey mig ht lo ok f or more information in a variety of places, including:

• Di vorce files

• Probate court records

• V oting records

• F inancial disclosure statements

Much of this research involves public documents not easily understood by lay people. A v ote to cut teacher pay, f or in stance, mig ht b e em bedded in a co mplexly worded document. Often opposition research involves looking for dif- ferences b etween w hat o pponents s ay a nd w hat t hey do. For instance, has the opposing candidate taken con- tributions f rom p eople or companies at o dds with his or her issue p ositions? Has he o r she c hanged or f lip- flopped on positions? On b igger ca mpaigns, Op position Res earchers also are involved in ra pid response. If their clients are attacked, they find out if t he charges are factually cor- rect or incorrect. They might “truth test” an opponent’s words f rom a deba te. The b igger t he ca mpaign, t he more likely the need is for daily research. Opposition Researchers often work closely with the candidate’s ca mpaign ma nager o r p ress o ffice. W ork

gets pa rticularly hec tic in t he mo nths le ading u p t o

a N ovember elec tion, wi th Op position Res earchers

putting in lo ng hours. In non-election years, t he pace

is slo wer, wi th t he Op position Res earcher a pt t o b e

providing research for trade ass ociations and soliciting future clients.

Salaries

Salaries ra nge f rom $30,000 t o $250,000, dep ending on exp erience. The r oad t o t he t op is r elatively sho rt, compared to, say, a stockbroker whose growth potential

is much greater.

Employment Prospects

Employment p rospects a re g ood b ecause ca ndidates are incr easingly t urning t o Op position Res earchers. Most new hires are young. Many land jobs after proving themselves as interns.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement Prospects are good because people who prove themselves rise up the hierarchy quickly.

Education and Training

Anyone interested in Opposition Research should take college co urses t hat ho ne str ong r esearch a nd wr it-

ing skills. D ebate c lubs als o p rovide hel pful tra ining, enabling students to understand what goes into making

a convincing argument.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Many indi viduals en ter t he f ield a fter w orking o n a political ca mpaign o r in terning f or a n exp erienced Opposition Researcher. Intellectually aggressive young people do b est in t his field. Instead of taking anything at face val ue, t hey kno w t o dog gedly dig b eneath t he surface. Opposition Researchers often travel to the can-

didate’s locale to track down public records. Travel is a big part of the job, with Opposition Researchers often spending long hours alone, poring over documents. After co llecting v oluminous a mounts o f inf orma- tion, they need t o organize it into a c lear and compre-

hensive r eport. G ood wr iting skills a re a m ust. S ince Opposition Researchers delve into the backgrounds of

ong s ense o f dis cretion.

They sho uld ha ve a str ong eno ugh s ense o f et hics t o refrain from engaging in q uestionable (and sometimes illegal) p ractices s uch as tr espassing o n p rivate p rop- erty or posing as political science students to get infor- mation f rom t he o pponent’s ca mpaign. M uch o f t he work of legitimate Opposition Researchers goes unher- alded, making this line of work a poor choice for glory hounds.

their c lients, t hey need a str

Unions and Associations

Opposition Researchers might belong to the American Association of Political Consultants and/or the Interna- tional Association of Political Consultants.

Tips for Entry

1. Join a debate team to hone your rhetorical skills.

2. Take courses that require extensive research and writing.

3. Work on a political campaign.

4. Call your state Democratic or Republican party office t o f ind o ut t he na mes o f o pposition research firms in your area.

5. Seek a n in ternship wi th a n o pposition r esearch firm.

POLITICAL CONSULTANT

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Providing advice on overall campaign strategy and/or specialized services such as polling, advertis- ing, or direct mail for political candidates and other clients Salary Range: $30,000 to $270,000 Employment Prospects: Good Advancement Prospects: Good Best G eographical L ocation(s): W ashington, D .C.; state capitals; major cities Prerequisites:

Education o r T raining—Bachelor’s degr ee o r higher Experience—Several y ears o f ca mpaign exp eri- ence

CAREER LADDER Senior Associate or Related Profession (e.g., public relations, lobbying) Political Consultant Campaign
CAREER LADDER
Senior Associate or
Related Profession
(e.g., public relations, lobbying)
Political Consultant
Campaign Worker or Intern
Special Skills and Personality Traits—Competitive;
diplomatic; q uick-thinking; a nalytical; co mfortable
in r ough-and-tumble w orld o f p olitics; willin g t o
work long hours and travel

Position Description

Political Consultants are the “hired guns” of candidate and issue ca mpaigns. I n t he pas t f ew decades, ind us- try s ources s ay, t he n umber o f P olitical C onsultants has gr own eno rmously, as ca mpaigns t hat o nce r elied on p olitical pa rties a nd v olunteers f or su pport ha ve increasingly t urned t o hig h-powered p rofessionals f or their t echnological exp ertise. W ith a c lick o f a co m- puter mo use, P olitical C onsultants ca n p redict v otes,

touch u p p hotos, a nd “dig u p t he dir t” o n t he ca ndi- date’s opponent. Increasingly, Political Consultants represent not only political ca ndidates b ut als o r eferendum co mmittees, interest groups, nonprofits, corporations, and interna- tional concerns. A labor union, for example, might hire

a Political Consultant to advise someone running for a

leadership position or identify and mobilize support for

a grassroots campaign. Unlike a C ampaign M anager, w ho w orks o n o ne campaign at a time, Political Consultants juggle a num- ber o f dif ferent c lients, hel ping t hem win w hatever

campaign they are waging. Some Political Consultants double as lobbyists. Political C onsultants ca n ei ther p rovide o verall advice or specialize in a particular service such as poll-

ing, media ad

y sub contracting

out to specialists. A Political Consultant specializing in media strategy, for example, might hire a crew to shoot

Many f irms k eep t heir size small b

vertising, o r dir ect-mail/fund-raising.

an ad. Other firms, known as A–Z shops, have full in- house production staffs. In addition to polling, advertising, and fund-raising, Political C onsultants participate in a gr owing number of specialties, including

• Signature gathering for initiatives and referendums

• Media buying and placement

• Press relations and events

• Opposition and candidate research

• Website consulting

By the time s omeone becomes a Political Consultant,

he o r she has usu ally wo rked in n umerous c ampaigns. Many start as v olunteer or low-paid “worker bees,” then

move u p to ma

and/or p olitical pa rties. The y ha ve s een cer tain pa t- terns repeating themselves. Voters, they discover, can be divided into three basic gr oups: the candidate’s support- ers, the opponent’s supporters, and the undecided. Politi- cal C onsultants dir ect t he ca mpaign’s mess age, mo ney, time, and efforts toward building a coalition of supporters and “persuadable” voters large enough to assure victory. In a typ ical ca mpaign, t he P olitical C onsultant is

nagement p ositions w ith c ampaigns

hired well before the client makes a f ormal announce- ment of candidacy. Early in t he campaign the Political Consultant de velops stra tegy a nd lo oks f or s upport. Can the candidate count on key figures in t he political party for financial support? How much money a month

must t he ca mpaign ra ise in o rder t o s urvive? W hich events are most important for the candidate to attend? Political C onsultants als o co nduct r esearch, o ften with t he hel p o f sub contractors, o n t he r ecord o f t he candidate a nd t he o pponent, t he mo od o f t he elec- torate, a nd v oters’ ass essments o f t he ca ndidates. I f the ca mpaign p rogresses t o t he next le vel, t he P oliti- cal Consultant is lik ely to make elaborate preparations for a nnouncement da y, p lanning p ress pac kets a nd endorsements for each stop. As the campaign progresses, the Political Consultant might work on matters like how to get free publicity to increase the candidate’s name recognition and whether or no t t o r espond dir ectly t o a ttacks f rom t he o ppo- nent. The f inal two weeks of the campaign is a time o f feverish ac tivity. C ampaign ads f ill t he a irwaves, a nd the candidate attends a nonstop array of events. Phone banks swing into high gear to get out the vote. On election day, Political Consultants wait anxiously for preliminary, then final, results. Political Consultants celebrate wi th t he winner s a nd co mmiserate wi th t he losers. Before folding up shop, the Political Consultant might a rrange f und-raisers t o hel p a losin g ca ndidate recoup some of the campaign debt.

Salaries

Salaries vary, depending on the firm and one’s position in i t. I n t he hiera rchy o f p olitical co nsulting, j unior associates ca n exp ect st arting s alaries o f $35,000 t o $45,000, compared to about $105,000, t he mean salary for principal partners, according to industry sources. Political Consultants charge clients fees for their ser- vices. F ees va ry b y t he le vel o f t he race , wi th j unior associates working on minor races e arning less mo ney than those working on major races. S ometimes clients write in to t he co ntract a b onus f or winnin g. To p ro- tect against sharp drops in s alaries during nonelection years, most firms take a variety of clients. Political Con- sultants also might screen clients to make sure they will be a ble t o pa y f or t heir s ervices. I n addi tion t o c lient fees, ma ny P olitical C onsultants r eceive siza ble co m- missions from advertising.

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are good because political con- sulting is a ne w and rapidly growing industry. Insiders say one needs only a home office equipped with phone lines, co mputers, fax es, a nd I nternet access t o s et u p shop as a P olitical C onsultant. M ost o f t he estima ted 3,000 f irms that sp ecialize in ca mpaigns and elections have 10 o r f ewer st affers, acco rding t o No Pl ace for Amateurs: H ow P olitical Co nsultants A re Re shaping

American Democracy by Dennis Johanson. Many Politi- cal Consultants keep their operations small by subcon- tracting out to specialists when needed. Although la unching a b usiness mig ht b e r elatively simple, keeping it going is co nsiderably more difficult. Competition for clients is fierce. Disagreements among partners can lead to acrimonious breakups.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects are good because junior associ- ates can work their way up to senior partner or launch their own business. Political Consultants also can move into p ositions in r elated f ields suc h as p ublic r elations or lobb ying. B ecause o f t he co mpetitive na ture o f t he business, some Political Consultants leave the field after experiencing financial setbacks. Others, though, become big-name Political Consultants, basking in the spotlight. They serve as consultants for TV shows such as The West Wing or provide political commentary on news shows.

Education and Training

Insiders s ay t he most val uable education a nd tra ining are gained through “trial-by-fire” on the campaign trail. Academic courses can also be useful in honing the writ- ing, a nalytical, a nd cr itical-thinking skills needed f or the job. Some 40 p ercent of Political Consultants hold graduate degr ees, acco rding t o a sur vey b y t he P ew

Center f or t he P eople a nd t he P ress. W ithin t he past few decades, t he ne w academic f ield of p olitical man- agement has sp rung up sp ecifically in r esponse to t he growing complexity of political campaigns.

Programs in p

olitical ma nagement fall in to tw o

basic typ es: degr ee-granting a nd sho rt-term in tensive training. Georgetown University and the University of Florida, f or exa mple, o ffer mast er’s degr ee p rograms. Some shorter programs are affiliated with universities, such as Amer ican University and Yale, and others are offered through members of the industry such as Cam- paigns & Elections magazine and the American Associ- ation of Political Consultants. The national committees of t he D emocratic a nd Rep ublican P arties als o o ffer training programs. Before becoming a Political Consultant, an individ- ual might have worked as a campaign manager, political party operative, or press secretary.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Most individuals in this field are political junkies drawn to t he t hrill o f co mpetition. This fac tor—the t hrill o f competition—ranked as the primary motivator of Polit- ical C onsultants (outweighing p olitical b eliefs, money, and p olitical p ower) in a s urvey by t he Pew Res earch

Center for t he People and t he Press. As Campaigns & Elections magazine obs erved, ma ny P olitical C onsul- tants see themselves as “the last of the gunslingers.” Political co nsulting a ttracts p eople w ho t hrive in the fast-paced , co mpetitive, r ough-and-tumble w orld of p olitics. “ People w ho g o in to s ocial w ork w ould not b e co mfortable in p olitical wa rs,” Campaigns & Elections magazine observed. In the competitive world of p olitical co nsulting, indi viduals str uggle t o ma in- tain hig h vic tory-loss ra tios. A di plomatic ma nner is important, as P olitical C onsultants often have to give candidates advice t hey mig ht not want to he ar. Many candidates ha ve b ig eg os, s o cr iticism a bout ma tters such as t he client’s dress or speaking style needs t o be handled delicately. Whether o r no t winnin g t akes p recedence o ver high et hical st andards, ho wever, is a ma tter o f m uch debate. The Amer ican Association of Political Consul- tants, which requires members to sign an ethics pledge, allows for negative campaigning as lo ng as t he attacks on t he o pponent a re no t fals e o r misle ading. I nsiders say t hat P olitical C onsultants us e nega tive ca mpaign- ing because it works. Some Political Consultants blame the media f or gi ving ino rdinate a ttention t o nega tive campaigning and delving into the private lives of can-

didates, t hus dr iving a way s ome t alented indi viduals. Will the public’s concerns about negative campaigning and rising campaign costs change the face of the indus- try? Such questions await a ne w generation of Political Consultants.

Unions and Associations

Two professional associations—the American Associa- tion of Political Consultants and the International Asso- ciation of Political Consultants—represent members of this relatively new profession. Political Consultants also might be members of other groups such as t he Ameri- can Political Science Association.

Tips for Entry

1. Volunteer to work on a political campaign.

2. Get involved in the political party of your choice.

3. Develop a netw ork of people involved in p oliti-

cal matters. B ecause jobs in t his f ield are rarely advertised, netw orking hel ps indi viduals b reak in and move up.

magazine

(http://www.campaignsandelections.com). The annual March issue, known as the Political Pages, lists Political Consultants by category.

4. Ch eck

out

Campaigns & Ele

ctions

POLITICAL PARTY STAFFER

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Recr uiting a nd tra ining ca ndidates; p reparing for co nventions; p lanning e vents a nd f und-raisers; supporting candidates and elected officials Alternate T itle(s): F ield Dir ector, C ommunications Director, Finance Director, Political Director, Exec- utive Director Salary Range: $30,000 to $150,000 Employment Prospects: Fair Employment Prospects: Good Best G eographical L ocation(s): St ate c apitals, Wash- ington, D.C. Prerequisites:

Education or Training—Bachelor’s degree

CAREER LADDER Political Consultant Political Party Staffer Intern or Campaign Worker Experience—One to three years
CAREER LADDER
Political Consultant
Political Party Staffer
Intern or Campaign Worker
Experience—One to three years
Special S kills and P ersonality T raits—Energetic;
skillful in co mmunication; well organized; passion-
ate about the party and its issues

Position Description

Political P arty S taffers w ork t o ad vance t heir pa rty’s candidates and agendas. The pa rty system gives voters a label—a sort of “political brand name”—to help them decide which candidates are most in line with their own interests. B ecause the two-party system dominates the political landscape, the vast majority of jobs for Political Party S taffers a re wi th t he D emocratic o r Rep ublican Parties. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties main- tain full-time staffs at the national and state levels. Polit- ical Party Staffers craft broad messages and supplement the s ervices ca ndidates g et f rom p olitical co nsultants and ca mpaign ma nagers. The y w ork under t he dir ec- tion of an elected chairman or chairwoman. On t he na tional f ront, t he Rep ublican N ational Committee a nd D emocratic N ational C ommittee hir e individuals for a variety of functions, including commu- nications, f und-raising, a nd p olitical o perations. E ach party also has a Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committee involved in recruiting, training, and financ- ing candidates for the U.S. House and Senate. At t he st ate le vel, p olitical pa rties ha ve est ablished permanent he adquarters a nd b eefed u p t heir st affs in recent decades. Much as t heir counterparts have at the national level, state parties, too, have separate legislative and cen tral co mmittees. C ommon p ositions in st ate parties include staff assistant, communication director, finance director, political director, and executive direc-

tor. An en try-level staff assistant might be involved in updating the party’s databases while more senior staff- ers dir ect t he pa rty’s o perations. The st ate pa rty, f or instance, might kick off a new drive to recruit women. Much of the work of Political Party Staffers follows the election cycle, which typically begins with recruit- ing candidates for office. Frequently this involves con- tacting lo cal pa rty le aders f or r eferrals a nd t alking t o prospective ca ndidates. P olitical P arty S taffers t hen provide training for these new recruits in t he nuts and bolts of running for office, including techniques to raise funds and make effective speeches. Before t he st ate pa rty co nventions, P olitical P arty Staffers s end inf ormation t o delega tes a nd co ordinate logistics. Endorsed candidates can buy the party’s “coor- dinated ca mpaign” s ervices, w hich typ ically inc lude voter f iles, p hone ba nks, radio ads, a nd f ield st affers. Political P arty S taffers hir e t he t emporary f ield hel p, contract wi th p hone v endors a nd media co nsultants, and coordinate events for all statewide candidates. After t he elec tions, P olitical P arty S taffers p rovide support t o elec ted o fficials. I f, f or in stance, t here is an argument between party members, a Political Party Staffer might be called in t o mediate. Or, perhaps, the mayor of a city wants help in getting more media expo- sure, so the Political Party Staffer arranges for the mayor to sp eak a t a n u pcoming e vent. A s t he de adlines f or the next election approach, Political Party Staffers start recruiting and training the next crop of candidates.

Salaries

Salaries vary according to the level of the position and the size o f the political party organization. The ex ecu- tive director of a la rge state political party might earn more than his o r her co unterpart at the national level, according to Dr. James A. Thurber, director of the Cen- ter for Congressional and Presidential Studies at Amer- ican University. I n g eneral P olitical P arty S taffers ca n expect t o e arn b etween $30,000 a nd $150,000 a y ear, depending on their experience, their level of responsi- bility, and the resources of their party.

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are fair because much of the work of political parties is done by grassroots volunteers. Most minor parties rely exclusively on volunteers, although a few occasionally hire organizers or other staffers. Industry sources report that the Republican Party generally raises more money than the Democratic Party and so can hire more Political Party Staffers. Most jobs in political parties are filled through word of mouth rather than job ads.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement p rospects a re g ood b ecause P olitical Party Staffers frequently have contact with people who can help advance their careers. In the world of politics, personal contacts often open the doors to new career possibilities. P olitical P arty S taffers co mmonly r efer candidates t o p olitical co nsultants a nd o ften b ecome political consultants themselves. They might also land staff positions for elected officials or become lobbyists.

Education and Training

Insiders observe that the most important education and training result from being out in the field. As one state party executive director put it, “Someone can graduate with a 4.0 in p olitical s cience a nd b e t errible wi thout the experience.” Nevertheless, a co llege ed ucation ca n hel p de velop important writing, communication, and analytical skills. New academic p rograms a nd tra ining s eminars in t he field of political management have sprung up in response to the growing complexity of political campaigns.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Most Political Party Staffers have campaign and/or leg- islative st aff exp erience. S omeone, f or in stance, mig ht

have worked on a few political campaigns and interned for a legislator. Political Party Staffers should b elieve in t he party’s message and b e able to communicate it ef fectively. As do many political workers, Political Party Staffers tend to “eat and breathe” politics. They lead the fast-paced, adrenaline-charged li ves o f “ political j unkies.” This is not a nine to five job, insiders say: Political Party Staff- ers frequently work nights and weekends.

Unions and Associations

Both ma jor pa rties ha ve st ate a nd na tional o rganiza- tions of young people: Young Democrats, Young Repub- licans, C ollege D emocrats, a nd C ollege Rep ublicans. Each na tional a nd st ate p olitical pa rty o rganization handles its own hiring. The Democratic and Republican National Committees have their own personnel offices. Minor pa rties s ometimes w ork t ogether in o rganiza- tions devoted to improving ballot access o r furthering conservative or progressive agendas.

Tips for Entry

1. Work on a political campaign.

2. Seek a n in ternship wi th y our st ate o r na tional political party.

3. Look in to in ternships a nd pa id p ositions wi th elected officials.

4. Consider w orking pa rt-time o r o n a t emporary basis t o b reak in. Dur ing p residential elec tion years, b oth ma jor pa rties enla rge t heir st affs considerably wi th t emporary a nd pa rt-time employees. P olitical pa rties als o hir e pa rt-time fund-raisers and temporary field organizers.

5. Search political employment websites for a va ri-

ety o f p olitical p ositions ra ther t han f or jobs specifically wi th p olitical pa rties. H elpful si tes include GO Pjob.com (h ttp://www.gopjob.com),

DEMjob.com (h

Politix G roup (h ttp://www.politixgroup.com), and P olitical Res ources (h ttp://www.politicalre- sources.com).

he

ttp://www.demjob.com), t

6. Use t he k eywords third pa rty t o f ind listin gs o f minor political parties.

POLLSTER

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Researching political campaigns; designing poll questions; supervising interviewers; analyzing data; writing reports Alternate Title(s): Polling Analyst, Project Director Salary Range: $30,000 to $500,000+ Employment Prospects: Good to excellent Advancement Prospects: Good Best G eographical L ocation(s): W ashington, D .C., state capitals, major cities Prerequisites:

Education or Training—Master’s degree preferred Experience—Campaign experience

CAREER LADDER Senior Associate Pollster Graduate Student or Campaign Worker Special S kills and P
CAREER LADDER
Senior Associate
Pollster
Graduate Student or Campaign Worker
Special S kills and P ersonality Traits—Passion f or
politics; understanding of statistical methods; ability
to ad vise c lient o n t he most p ersuasive mess age(s)
and targeting for campaign

Position Description

Pollsters measure and analyze public opinion, acting as doctors of sorts for political campaigns. They take the pulse of the electorate to diagnose the client’s strengths and weaknesses and prescribe winning strategies. As other political consultants do, Pollsters, who are also called polling analysts, typically work for a variety of clients, including interest groups, referendum com- mittees, government agencies, and private corporations, as w ell as p olitical ca ndidates. C ampaign p olling has grown by leaps and bounds, as all le vels of campaigns are turning to professional Pollsters to determine which issues t o p lay u p, w here t o f ocus t heir ener gies, a nd whether or not their strategies are working. Pollsters are increasingly expanding their repertoire beyond tradi tional p olls t o inc lude ne w t ools suc h as focus gr oups a nd t o sur vey sp ecific gr oups o f indi- viduals. I n t he elec tronic f ocus gr oup, o r dialmet er, participants us e a ha nd-held de vice t o signal degr ees of agr eement o r dis agreement wi th w hat is s aid o n a television screen. Pollsters may conduct a variety of polls in the course of any given campaign. The benchmark survey, the first major poll of the campaign, is often followed by trend surveys and tracking polls. Each poll involves a number of steps. Pollsters

• Determine the purpose of the poll

• Select the sample

• Design questions

• Supervise interviewers

• Analyze data

• Write reports

Before drawing up the questions, Pollsters research the campaign, often consulting at length with strategists and in-ho use a nalysts. The y det ermine t he p urpose of e ach p oll b efore wr iting t he q uestions. F or exa m- ple, a p oll to gain an understanding of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses has a dif ferent purpose than one that looks into the general concerns of the elector- ate.

Pollsters us e census tracts and other tools to s elect random samples for sur veys, which are generally con- ducted by phone. The la rger the sample, the lower the margin of error, but also the more expensive the poll. Many q uestions ha ve b ecome st andard, t he exac t wording de vised and tested over time f or its objectiv- ity. On ma ny public issues, p eople have no o pinion at all, s o q uestions sho uld b e w orded in s uch a wa y as not t o ma nufacture o ne. Most p olls f ollow a s tandard sequence, beginning with an authoritative introduction and moving into screening questions to determine the respondent’s likeliness to vote. Screening questions are tricky b ecause s ome r espondents, wa nting t o s eem t o be good citizens, say they will v ote in t he election but ultimately do n’t. The p oll t hen mo ves in to subst an- tive questions about the campaign and concludes with demographic q uestions p roviding inf ormation a bout the r espondent’s t elevision-viewing, radio-list ening, and newspaper-reading habits as well as personal char- acteristics such as age, ethnic group, race, and income.

Pollsters ca n ei ther co ntract o ut interviewing (e .g., to telemarketing phone banks or campaign volunteers) or he ad u p t heir o wn in terviewing o perations, o ften with the help of an in-house field director. Interviewers are trained to stick to the script and avoid biased phras- ing. S upervisors us e p lug-in mo nitors a nd call bac k respondents to check for accuracy. New techniques in analysis have revolutionized poll- ing. Whereas in the old days Pollsters could only corre- late tw o fac tors sim ultaneously a nd needed w eeks t o complete polls, now they can analyze multiple responses at once and use rolling average techniques for continu- ous tracking. As k ey stra tegists, P ollsters p repare r eports bas ed on the data for the client. For example, a Pollster might recommend that a ca ndidate air TV ads a round sports shows watched by a la rge share of undecided v oters to shore up “soft” support. Yet, for all the new techniques, polling is not an exact science. Polling is controversial, faulted for driving up campaign costs, prompting can- didates to pander to public opinion, and inculcating a “horse race” mentality of p olitics. Supporters, t hough, say polling gives candidates important feedback about the concerns of the public.

Salaries

Salaries t end t o b e hig her f or Pollsters t han f or o ther Political C onsultants b ecause o f t he mo re sp ecialized nature o f t he w ork. M ost b eginning P ollsters ha ve salaries in t he $40,000 t o $50,000 ra nge, acco rding t o industry sources. In response to increased competition, some Pollsters are offering lower fees and less extensive polls to boost business.

Employment Prospects

Employment p rospects a re g ood t o ex cellent f or indi- viduals with the right training. Polling firms are looking for individuals with exp erience in p olitical campaigns and a bac kground in q uantitative analysis to hold pro- fessional-track positions in this rapidly growing indus- try. A p olling f irm may handle nonpolitical as w ell as political clients.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects are good because new analysts, who are generally paired with more experienced mem- bers of the team, can acquire more responsibility with time. Individuals on a career track as Pollsters generally start out as P olling Analysts. A j unior analyst who has the right education and training can move up to a more senior p osition. F rom t here, indi viduals ca n b uild u p

their own client bases and start their own businesses or become senior partners in their polling firm.

Education and Training

Because P ollsters p erform s pecialized q uantitative analysis, grad uate-school tra ining t ends t o b e mo re

important f or t hem t han f or o ther typ es o f p olitical

er’s degr ee

for indi viduals lo oking t o b ecome ass ociates in p oll- ing firms. Levels of education vary among Pollsters, as some hold Ph.D.s and others learn through fieldwork. Master’s p rograms in p olitical s cience o r r elated fields p rovide tra ining in q uantitative-research t ech- niques, wi th ne w p rograms in p olitical ma nagement dealing specifically with polling. Internship opportuni- ties provide important hands-on experience.

consultants. I nsiders r ecommend a mast

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Insiders em phasize t he need f or ha nds-on exp erience in p olitical ca mpaigns as w ell as fa miliarity wi th st a- tistical methods. Pollsters must be able to perform two roles: objective analyst and campaign strategist. Those who s ee t he two roles as co mplementary s ay t hey us e objective analysis to help the candidates they like win. Maintaining high methodological standards in the heat of campaign battle, however, can be challenging, partic- ularly if t he firm has t aken on too many clients. Many firms pair senior Pollsters with junior associates to give clients adeq uate acces s. P ollsters g enerally c hoose t o represent either Democratic or Republican clients. Pollsters must earn the trust of clients to be treated as full members of the strategy team even if t he num- bers a re dis appointing. B ecause ca mpaigns in volve teamwork, a good relationship between the Pollster and other members of the team can keep a lid on bickering and time-consuming arguments. Polling analysts who work primarily on campaigns, as o pposed t o ma rket r esearch, sho uld ha ve a pas- sion f or p olitics. The y t ap in to t heir o wn co mpetitive instincts t o hel p t heir ca ndidates win. H igh p ressure and frequent travel are integral parts of this job.

Unions and Associations

Many P ollsters b elong t o t he Amer ican A ssociation of Political C onsultants (AAPC) a nd/or t he Amer ican Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

Tips for Entry

1. Work on a p olitical campaign. Because Pollsters are k ey mem bers o f t he stra tegic t eam, t hey should have an understanding of how campaigns work.

olitical

management, p olitical s cience, st atistics, a nd/ or related fields, as fa miliarity with quantitative analysis is im portant in t his f ield. M any p ro- grams offer valuable internship opportunities.

3. Read about polling. Newspapers commonly run articles detailing the results of various polls, and books o n p olitical co nsulting p rovide inf orma- tion about polling.

2. Look in to ed ucational p rograms in p

4. Browse t he w ebpages o f t he Amer ican A sso- ciation o f P olitical C onsultants (h ttp://www.

theaapc.org) a nd t he Amer ican A ssociation f or Public Opinion Research (http://www.aapor.org) for inf ormation a bout co nferences a nd ca reer development.

5. Determine your party affiliation carefully because polling firms tend to be partisan. Become active in the political party of your choice to take advan- tage of important networking opportunities.

POLITICAL OFFICE
POLITICAL
OFFICE

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Rep resent co nstituents a nd ex ercise p ublic control of schools by setting policy, approving bud- gets, hiring and evaluating the superintendent, and responding t o co ncerns o f co nstituents; assumin g other leadership responsibilities Alternate Title(s): School Committee Member, Trustee Salary Range: $0 to $40,000 Employment Prospects: Good Advancement Prospects: Good Best G eographical L ocation(s): S mall co mmunities are generally less competitive. Prerequisites:

Education o r Training—No f ormal r equirements; training offered by professional associations for new School Board Members Experience—Volunteer exp erience de aling wi th school and/or community issues

CAREER LADDER School Board President, City Councilor, or Other Volunteer Position School Board Member Community/School
CAREER LADDER
School Board President, City Councilor,
or Other Volunteer Position
School Board Member
Community/School Volunteer

Special Sk ills a nd P ersonality T raits—Articulate; well prepared and organized; committed to provid- ing excellent education for all children; able to work well with others

Position Description

School Board Members strive to improve the quality of public education in their communities, sometimes with an eye toward running for higher political office. Although ma ny mem bers o f C ongress b egan t heir political ca reers o n t he s chool b oard, t he ma jority o f School B oard Members lack such lofty political ambi- tions. The y sim ply wa nt t o s erve t heir co mmunities. School B oard M embers p rovide cr itical linkin g o f schools, parents, and the community, confronting such challenges of the 21st century as youth violence, educa- tional testing, and changing demographics. Most S chool B oard M embers s ee t heir s ervice as a callin g ra ther t han a ca reer. A pproximately 90 p er- cent o f S chool B oard M embers r eceive li ttle, if a ny, compensation, according to the National School Boards Association. Most earn their primary income in o ther occupations. The National Association of School Boards reports that 43 percent of School Board Members hold professional or managerial posts, 12 p ercent own busi- nesses, and 12 percent are retired. School Board Members do mo re than attend meet- ings: They must also prepare for them, often by making phone calls a nd p oring o ver mo unds o f pa perwork. First, School Board Members set educational policy for the community. Most boards create a “vision statement”

for the district. In addition, School Board Members set policies on a va riety of matters such as I nternet usage for students, safety in the schools, and school uniforms. School B oard M embers co mmonly co mpile a p olicy manual, w hich p rovides guida nce f or administra tors and others in the district. School Board Members are responsible for the hir- ing and evaluation of the chief executive officer, usually called the superintendent. The relationship between the board and the superintendent can be a prickly one, par- ticularly if the two do not understand and respect each other’s responsibilities: t he lay b oard for setting p olicy and t he s uperintendent, as p rofessional administrator, for implementing it. School B oard M embers assume r esponsibility f or educational planning, goal setting, and appraisal, with the p rimary f ocus o f all b oard decisio ns o n st udent achievement. F or in stance, a s chool dis trict mig ht s et the g oal o f e very c hild’s a ttaining a s pecified r eading level by the end of the third grade. What kind of profes- sional de velopment w ould ena ble t eachers t o ac hieve this g oal? D o s ome r eading syst ems w ork b etter f or some students than others? If so, how can the schools best help students with special needs? School B oard M embers a re als o r esponsible f or setting t he o verall b udget, w hich is de veloped b y t he

superintendent. About 95 percent of the average school district budget is e armarked for wages, benefits, trans- portation, a nd o ther i tems, acco rding t o t he N ational School B oards A ssociation. B ecause t he b udgeting process involves s everal steps, savvy s chool b oards s et deadlines when

• A tentative budget will b e completed and presented to the board

The administration will p resent st aff requests to t he board

The superintendent will make the first formal budget request to the board

• Public hearings will be held

The b udget will b e p resented t o m unicipal o r st ate officials

The board will have its final discussion of the budget and adopt it

School B oard M embers co mmunicate wi th va ri- ous co nstituencies. The y r espond t o q uestions f rom the media; maintain ongoing, two-way communication with s chool st aff, s tudents, a nd mem bers o f t he co m- munity; and build collaborative relations with political and business leaders to develop a consensus for student success. School B oard M embers he ar a ppeals f rom s chool staff members or students on issues that involve policy implementation. For instance, if pa rents are unable to resolve a dispute over discipline with their child’s prin- cipal, they may take the matter to the school board. Finally, S chool B oard M embers a re in volved in a variety of other activities, including electing board offi- cers, approving the annual school calendar, and estab- lishing a ttendance zo nes f or t he s chool distr ict. The y also m ust r ead len gthy r eports, s erve o n co mmittees, and respond to the concerns of constituents.

Salaries

The vast ma jority o f S chool B oard M embers r eceive little o r no co mpensation f or t heir s ervice. I n s ome communities, School Board Members are compensated on a p er-diem or p er-meeting basis. On t he hig h end of the range, some large districts offer compensation in the $25,000 to $40,000 range.

Employment Prospects

Employment p rospects a re g enerally g ood, al though School Board Members face s tiff competition for elec- tion in s ome co mmunities, pa rticularly la rge urba n districts. In other communities, candidates run uncon- tested. In contested races, ca ndidates w ho los e on t he

first try sometimes run again and win, benefiting from increased name recognition. Running an ef fective campaign for s chool b oard is generally less exp ensive in small co mmunities than in large urban districts. Overall, candidates in 75.6 percent of all distr icts spend less t han $1,000 t o run for school board, according to the National School Boards Associ- ation. Most candidates use a combination of their own money and support from friends or family. Less than a third receive contributions from outside sources. Some candidates in large districts, however, spend $10,000 to $25,000 or more to run for school board. School boards average five or seven people, although board size varies from as few as three to as many as 15. Almost all school boards are elected (fewer than 3 per- cent a re a ppointed). A s wi th o ther elec ted p ositions, school board candidates must be able to connect with voters to win elec tions. C andidates w ho can r un on a solid record of accomplishment, often as v olunteers in the school or community, have an edge. Insiders say it also helps for candidates to know people in the business and school community.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects depend on one’s goals. Within the b oard i tself, mem bers ca n r ise t o le adership p osi- tions suc h as s chool b oard p resident. S ome S chool Board M embers p ursue o ther co mmunity ende avors such as becoming head of the United Way, finding that their school board service opens up doors. Others run for hig her p olitical o ffice suc h as ci ty co uncil, wi th prospects t hat dep end o n t he size o f t he co mmunity and whether or not the race is contested.

Education and Training

Most S chool B oard M embers a re co llege-educated, although a bac helor’s degree is no t required. Eligibility laws dif fer f rom st ate t o st ate, b ut most st ates r equire candidates for school board to be at least 21 y ears old and registered to vote in the district they want to repre- sent, according to the National School Boards Associa- tion. Nearly half of School Board Members are between the ag es o f 41 a nd 50. H owever, y ounger p eople a re often cr edited wi th introducing f resh in sights (having recently been students themselves) to school boards. Training for new School Board Members is o ffered at t he distr ict, st ate, a nd na tional le vels. On a n inf or- mal basis, exp erienced S chool B oard M embers o ften provide information, encouragement, and guidance to their new colleagues. The distr ict also may have a f or- mal o rientation a nd de velopment p rogram f or S chool Board Members.

National a nd st ate s chool b oard ass ociations, t oo, play an active role in educating School Board Members. State school board associations provide workshops for new S chool B oard M embers a nd/or p eople in terested in running for a seat. Both the National School Boards Association a nd st ate ass ociations s ponsor w orkshops and conferences on sp ecific issues suc h as t echnology and parliamentary procedure.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

School B oard M embers typ ically ha ve exp erience as v olunteers in t he s chool o r co mmunity. S omeone involved in t he Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), for instance, mig ht decide t o r un for t he s chool b oard. A former teacher, too, might decide to run for the board. Although many School Board Members are parents of school-aged children, some candidates in their 20s also win seats on the board. Many S chool B oard M embers f ind t he wo rk mo re difficult a nd time-co nsuming t han t hey exp ected. To prevent the problems of divided boards, School Board Members should be able to work well with others. Good team p layers de al wi th fac ts rather t han p ersonalities, are willing to compromise, and do their homework.

Unions and Associations

The National S chool B oards A ssociation is a na tional organization dedicated to fostering excellence in public education through local school board leadership.

Tips for Entry

1. Volunteer t o w ork f or a n o rganization in volved in school and/or community issues.

2. Attend a school board meeting. Most are open to

the public.

3. Ask y ourself w hether y ou ha ve w hat i t t akes t o succeed. Are you willing to work long hours for little or no pay? How well can you handle being in t he p ublic e ye? Will y ou b e a ble t o compro- mise with other board members?

4. Look in to ca ndidacy r equirements. F ind o ut whether your school board is elected in Novem-

pril (o r s ome o ther mo nth) a nd

whether b oard mem bers a re elec ted a t la rge and/or from certain geographical areas. State law often requires all ca ndidates for public office to file financial disclosure statements and to present a no minating p etition signed b y a cer tain p er- centage of registered voters.

ber o r in A

5. Participate in w orkshops and conferences spon- sored by state school boards associations and the National School Boards Association. Some local districts also conduct sessions of their own.

6. Remember to factor in the possible costs of run- ning f or o ffice. Al though ma ny s chool b oard campaigns a re r elatively lo w b udget (limi ted to suc h o ld-fashioned costs as b rochures, p rint advertisements, and bumper stickers), some races are becoming more costly and sophisticated.

CITY COUNCILOR

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Cr eating la ws, ado pting p olicies, a nd p roviding inspiration and motivation to improve the community Alternate T itle(s): S electboard M ember, Alder man/ Alderwoman, County Commissioner Salary Range: $0 to $90,000 Employment Prospects: Fair to poor Advancement Prospects: Poor Best Geographical Location(s): Municipalities Prerequisites:

Education or Training—No formal requirements Experience—No formal requirements Special S kills a nd P ersonality T raits—Commit- ment t o t he co mmunity; p ublic sp eaking exp eri- ence; endurance; consensus-building skills

CAREER LADDER Mayor City Councilor School Committee Member or Citizen Activist
CAREER LADDER
Mayor
City Councilor
School Committee Member or
Citizen
Activist

Position Description

City C ouncilors are legislators, much like members of Congress. B oth gr oups dra ft b ills, de al wi th co nstitu- ents, and vote on budgets. But, compared to their coun- terparts o n C apitol H ill, Ci ty C ouncilors w ork o n a much smaller scale. A City Councilor might consider a plan for a m ultithousand- or multimillion-dollar proj- ect t o b uild a t urn la ne at a b usy intersection. A U .S. Senator, on the other hand, would be concerned with a multibillion-dollar interstate highway system. City Councilors work at the street level, dealing with the ni tty-gritty det ails o f co mmunity lif e suc h as p ot- holes, crime, and property taxes. One o f the advantages of w orking a t t he lo cal le vel is t hat r esults a re e asy t o see. A Ci ty C ouncilor w ho ad vocated co nstruction o f an addi tional s chool, f or in stance, mig ht pass t he ne w facility every day on the way to work. However, victories like this occur after months, if no t years, of hard work. City C ouncilors are al ways lining up votes, v ying for a majority, o r w orking t o b uild a co nsensus. I n a w orld where fac tionalism and inf ighting are legendary, t his is no easy task. The vast majority of City Councilors are part-time. They balance their political responsibilities with another occupation, such as la w or business. Many City Coun- cilors emerge from the ranks of the school committee, a natural progression, considering that schools form a large part of the city council’s budget. City Councilors fall into two basic groups:

• District—representing a particular part of the city

• At-large—elected citywide

These two groups differ somewhat in f ocus. A Ci ty Councilor for a district acts as an advocate for a partic- ular neighborhood, asking questions like, What are the needs of different ethnic groups? and How can a certain program benefit the neighborhood? The at-large Coun- cilor needs to juggle the concerns of a broader group of constituents. Whether elected at large or districtwide, City Coun- cilors need t o b e g eneralists t o de al wi th e verything from economic development to public safety, social ser- vices, and whatever happens to be “hot” at the moment. If, f or in stance, co nstituents a re p ushing f or mo re affordable ho using, a Ci ty C ouncilor mig ht cr eate a plan for increased funding. The ma yor, though, might

reject t he p lan. S hould t he Ci ty C ouncilor c hampion an ini tiative t o g et p ermission f rom t he st ate t o f loat a bond? Or sho uld the City Councilor work on a ne w

housing p roposal t hat co uld win t

port? S uch t actical decisio ns ca n det ermine w hether or no t Ci ty C ouncilors a re successf ul in ca rrying o ut

their agendas. The in tensity of work for a Ci ty C oun- cilor depends largely on the nature of the community.

mmunity mig ht

Whereas a n indi vidual in a small co

take home a few hours of work and attend two or three night meetings a week, the City Councilor of a large city

he ma yor’s su p-

might work considerably longer hours to deal with the more complex problems at hand.

A City Councilor’s schedule varies from day to day,

but time is g enerally sp ent a t meetin gs, suc h as Ci ty Council or committee meetings; in t he office, working

on correspondence, research, budgets, or planning; or out in t he co mmunity, meetin g wi th dif ferent gr oups and participating in community events.

In t owns a nd co unties, s electboard mem bers a nd

county co mmissioners p erform ma ny o f t he s ame duties as Ci ty C ouncilors. Al though a co unty mig ht

oversee t he co urts, co rrections, t ax ass essments, a nd/ or other areas of s ervice, it mig ht lack a c harter f rom the state and so have less a uthority than a ci ty. A Ci ty Councilor mig ht ha ve a hig her p rofile t han a co unty commissioner. As a local celebrity of sorts, the City Councilor may receive n umerous in vitations t o gr ound-breakings, parades, wak es, c hristenings, a nd w eddings. I n t he case of a blizzard, a City Councilor might be awakened

nd w ork no nstop un til 10:00 p .m. Yet,

at 3:30 a.m. a

compared t o t he ma yor, a Ci ty C ouncilor w orks r ela- tively sho rt ho urs. A Ci ty C ouncilor is o ne o f s everal members of a board—a group player rather than a solo performer. A City Councilor might work 15 hours com- pared to a mayor’s 60 hours a week.

Salaries

Because City Councilor is generally a part-time position, salaries tend to be low. Some communities pay nothing at all. Only a few large cities pay City Councilors in the $50,000 to $90,000 range. More common are salaries in the $10,000 to $30,000 or $0 to $10,000 range.

Employment Prospects

Employment p rospects a re fa ir t o p oor b ecause t here are a limited number of slots for City Councilors. Gen- erally speaking, competition is higher in big cities than in smaller communities. Thus a bid for City Council in

a smaller community might be more successful.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects are poor because the position of mayor, the next logical step on the political hierarchy,

is generally difficult to reach. Since most City Council-

ors a re pa rt-time, indi viduals typ ically r eturn t o t heir

primary line of work. Some City Councilors are retired adults o r s econdary b readwinners. Ot hers w ork p ri- marily in another occupation such as business or law.

Education and Training

City Councilors come from all walks o f life. There are no f ormal r equirements f or t his p osition. C andidates need to “sell” their ideas to voters, who, in turn, decide who is most qualified for the position.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Many Ci ty C ouncilors ha ve p rior exp erience o n a community b oard suc h as a ci vic as sociation, P arent- Teacher A ssociation (PT A), o r s chool co mmittee. A s board members, they develop their consensus-building and problem-solving skills. City Councilors must look at both sides o f an issue in order to be fair. Still, they should have the courage of their own convictions. Dedication counts for a great deal in t his field. Few City C ouncilors a re attracted t o t he job b y t he s alary. Candidates choose to run for office because they want to improve their communities.

Unions and Associations

Although no unio n o r ass ociation de als ex clusively with City C ouncilors, individuals mig ht b elong to t he National League of Cities, state municipal associations, or other groups dealing with municipal issues.

Tips for Entry

1. Look into internships a nd sp ecial o pportunities such as city youth councils.

2. Follow the news; keep up with issues of key con- cern.

3. Attend city council and other community meet- ings.

4. Carve out a primary occupation with some flex- ibility. B ecause most ci ty co uncil p ositions a re part-time, indi viduals generally ne ed ano ther source of income.

5. Seek a p osition o n a nother co mmunity b oard such as a ci vic association, PTA, or school com- mittee. Memberships on these boards often serve as springboards to City Councilor.

6. Become in volved in t he p olitical pa rty o f y our choice to take advantage of important network- ing opportunities.

7. Ask yourself whether you have a large enough net- work of f riends and supporters t o launch a suc- cessful campaign. Usually, it’s easier to win a race when not running against a popular incumbent.

MAYOR

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Providing overall leadership for the community; setting p olicy; r ecommending b udgets; a ppointing members o f t he lo cal g overnment; bala ncing o ut different interests; understanding the needs o f citi- zens; speaking for the municipality Salary Range: $0 to $130,000 Employment Prospects: Poor Advancement Prospects: Fair Best Geographical Location(s): Cities, towns Prerequisites:

Education or Training—No formal requirements Experience—No formal requirements

CAREER LADDER State or Federal Elected Office or Various Other Positions Mayor City Councilor Special
CAREER LADDER
State or Federal
Elected Office or
Various Other Positions
Mayor
City Councilor
Special Sk ills and P ersonality Traits—Strong le ad-
ership a nd co mmunication skills; dedica tion t o t he
community; honesty; willingness to work long hours

Position Description

Mayors steer the course of their communities. Some— such as Fiorello LaGuardia and Rudolph Giuliani—have become leg endary f igures nationwide. O ver t he y ears, Mayors have carved out reputations as fiery eccentrics, cool-headed ma nagers, p opulists, p rogressives, p ower brokers, and visionaries. As c hief ex ecutive, t he M ayor s erves as t he lo cal equivalent o f p resident o f t he U nited S tates. M ayors have the most powerful single voice in their communi- ties. The y s et p olicy, make appointments, recommend budgets, and speak for their cities. Mayors are credited for the good times and blamed for the bad times. S uch power ca rries a n elemen t o f g lamour. N evertheless, many Mayors toil for little or no money. They consider the position a “calling” rather than a “career.” The hours are s o lo ng a nd t he pa y s o lo w t hat o nly o ne mo tive justifies wanting to be Mayor: the desire to serve one’s community. Some M ayors ha ve co nsiderably mo re p ower t han others. Generally speaking, those elected by the public have mo re c lout t han t hose c hosen b y a ci ty co uncil. Also, big-city Mayors tend to be more well-known than their counterparts in small ci ties, many of whom work part-time. A town, too, can have a Mayor, if the charter calls for one. The position of Mayor defies easy catego- rization, as v eto powers, term limits, and personalities vary f rom community t o community. A str ong le ader can emerge from a ci ty chartered for a w eak Mayor by virtue of his or her powers of persuasion.

Citizens look to the Mayor for a sense of vision. Over

the y ears, as f ederal gra nts have b ecome mo re s carce,

re en trepreneurial r ole.

In small communities, education typically accounts for more than 50 percent of the budget. Mayors often play an im portant r ole in t he s chools as w ell as in m yriad other community concerns. Each day is a juggling act: how to balance the needs of different groups, different types of projects, and dif- ferent time co nstraints. M ayors a ttend neig hborhood and co mmunity meetin gs, co nfer wi th o ther g overn- ment officials, serve on state and national committees, initiate and answer correspondence, and set policy pri- orities and initiatives. A M ayor mig ht a ppoint a t ask f orce t o lo ok in to

the M ayor has assumed a mo

a cer tain issue o f co ncern. A w elfare t ask f orce, f or

instance, mig ht in terview ci tizens t o s ee ho w w elfare reform is working in t he community, then report their recommendations. The M ayor would t hen b ecome an advocate for a plan of action. As do o ther elec ted o fficials, M ayors need t o de al with t heir co lleagues’ p ersonalities a nd eg os. N eigh- borhood r epresentatives, f or in stance, mig ht dema nd certain “ spoils” in ex change f or su pport o n a pa rtic- ular de velopment p roject. I f t he M ayor r ejects t hose

demands, the project might be held u p indefinitely. If, on the other hand, the Mayor agrees to them, he or she

might be accused of favoritism. Mayors constantly need to balance advocacy for issues close to their hearts with

a sense of fairness to all.

nstant s crutiny. N ewspaper

articles a nalyze t he M ayor’s le adership sty le. I s t he Mayor an old-fashioned boss or a modern-day consen- sus maker? How has t he Mayor done on basic s ervices like snow plowing, street cleaning, and trash collection? Has t he Mayor initiated any programs to enhance t he livability of the city? Does the Mayor have a clear vision for the future? Mayors p rovide le adership o n ma tters o f k ey co n- cern, such as p ublic safety, jobs, ho using, and the arts. Since the 9/11 t errorist attacks, homeland security has become a n im portant p riority f or M ayors a round t he nation. Mayors have channeled resources into improv- ing emergency response systems, protecting water sup- plies, a nd b olstering s ecurity in p ublic tra nsportation and o ther k ey sp ots. The y a pply f or st ate a nd f ederal funds to supplement their own resources. Having a set of priorities is important because May- ors can find their efforts scattered in different directions. This job is literally endless. Although all Mayors believe they a re q ualified by vir tue o f b eing elec ted, s ome a re better prepared and more hardworking than others. The pace o f the work depends on the complexity of the community. In most di verse, large cities, the work- load is intense. Mayors are expected not only to perform ceremonial duties, such as welcoming visitors and lead- ing celebrations, but als o to b e on call 24 ho urs a da y. Despite the extreme pressures, many Mayors find great satisfaction in being the “top dog” in their communities.

Mayors a re under co

Salaries

Salaries range from $0 t o about $130,000, acco rding to the National League of Cities. Salaries vary so much that a city with a p opulation of 500,000 mig ht pay a M ayor either $28,000 or $113,000. It all depends on the city. A p osition mig ht b e o fficially designa ted as pa rt- time even though the Mayor essentially works full-time. Some la rge ci ties—Dallas, Texas, f or in stance—have a Mayor designa ted as pa rt-time. An indi vidual w ho is retired may be able to devote all his o r her time t o the position whereas someone else would have to juggle the responsibilities of Mayor with another job. A small city with a part-time Mayor might rely on someone like the municipal clerk to run the government. Some part-time positions are unpaid.

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are poor because each commu- nity h as on ly on e May or. Ma ny May ors ro se f rom t he ranks of City Councilors. Rising to Mayor, however, can be a dif ficult—and expensive—task. Even in small ci t- ies, campaigning for Mayor can cost $25,000 o r more.

In t he r ough-and-tumble w orld o f p olitics, nega tive campaigns are common. Success f or a ca ndidate dep ends o n b eing a ble t o communicate one’s ideas effectively to voters. Although the path to Mayor can be a difficult one, the position is open to anyone who is willing to seek it.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement p rospects a re fa ir. Al though s erving as Mayor ca n o pen u p cer tain do ors, indi viduals typ i- cally move “on” rather than “up.” Many Mayors return

to t heir f ormer line o f w ork, f or exa mple, business or law, because it is lik ely to be more lucrative than pub- lic office. Af ter s erving as t he community’s “top dog,”

a M ayor mig ht f ind t he p rospect o f b ecoming o ne o f many state or federal legislators unappealing.

Education and Training

There a re no f

Mayor. A ca ndidate w ho is la rgely s elf-taught mig ht easily trounce someone with a Ph.D. Voters decide who

is mo re q ualified. S pecific requirements f or eligib ility

may vary among cities and towns.

ormal ed ucational r equirements f or

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Many M ayors ha ve s erved f irst o n t he ci ty co uncil, where t hey’ve had a c hance t o de velop t heir co mmu- nications skills. The Mayor needs to be a good commu- nicator to get across his o r her mess age to the people. Communication styles, though, can vary widely. Some Mayors a re f iery o rators. Ot hers ha ve mo re o f a lo w- key, conversational style. Messages o ften need t o b e r epeated o ver a nd o ver again to lay the proper groundwork for a ne w agenda. Seasoned M ayors kno w ho w t o r estate a mess age s o the speech doesn’t sound “canned.” They become adept at u sing t he “ bully pu lpit” t o m otivate ot hers. Ma yors need t o ha ve g ood in terpersonal skills, s trong le ader- ship abilities, an abiding interest in t heir communities, and the ability to withstand pressure.

Unions and Associations

The U nited S tates C onference o f M ayors r epresents Mayors of cities with populations of more than 30,000.

Tips for Entry

1. Follow the news and talk to people in lo cal gov- ernment to familiarize yourself with the position of Mayor.

2. Get a foot in the door by volunteering on a politi- cal ca mpaign o r f or s omeone alr eady in o ffice. Internships, too, can be good opportunities.

3. Serve the community by volunteering on boards or co mmissions. A ttend co mmunity meetin gs open to the public.

4. Seek a s table job t hat has s ome f lexibility. Most elected jobs at the local level are part-time, thus requiring o fficeholders t o est ablish t hemselves first in another line of work.

5. Take s tock o f y our o wn p riorities f or t he co m- munity and ask yourself whether these are broad

enough to attract a multitude of supporters. Can you s ell y ourself as a n ef fective ca ndidate? D o you have a netw ork of f riends and like-minded members of the community?

6. Bear in mind t hat it’s easier to run for Mayor if the race lac ks a p opular inc umbent. In p olitics, timing is crucial.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: A dvocating f or t he p ublic in cr iminal-justice matters; overseeing and/or trying cases, administer- ing office policies and procedures Alternate Title(s): Prosecuting Attorney, County Attor- ney, State’s Attorney, Commonwealth Attorney Salary Range: $36,000 to $115,000 Employment Prospects: Fair Advancement Prospects: Good to excellent Best Geo graphical L ocation: Distr icts wi th o pen seats Prerequisites:

Education or Training—Law degree Experience—Prosecution exp erience p referred; extensive trial experience

CAREER LADDER Judge or Higher Office or Private Practice District Attorney Assistant District Attorney Special
CAREER LADDER
Judge or Higher Office or
Private Practice
District Attorney
Assistant District Attorney
Special Sk ills a nd P ersonality Traits—Command
of the courtroom; sense of fairness; ability to grasp
complex issues; willingness to work long hours in a
fast-paced environment

Position Description

District A ttorneys co mbine kno wledge o f t he la w with co ncern a bout p ublic s afety. A s t he Chief P ros- ecutor, t hey o versee a nd s ometimes tr y hig h-profile cases, including homicides. They serve as t he top law- enforcement o fficial f or t he distr ict, w orking c losely with the police to protect the safety of citizens. District

Attorneys als o s et o ffice p olicy, o versee legal ma tters, and speak out on criminal-justice issues. The vast ma jority—95 p ercent—of Distr ict A ttor-

neys a re c hosen in p

appointed, according to the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Typically, a Dis- trict Attorney f irst works as a n assistant district attor- ney, a n a ppointed p osition. Unlike ca ndidates f or t he legislature o r o ther p olitical o ffice, Distr ict A ttorneys must b e la wyers, a q ualification limi ting t he p ool o f candidates. Often, an assistant district attorney runs for an office being vacated by his or her boss. Candidates ma y ha ve dif ferent no tions o f w hat i t

means t o b e “tough o n cr ime.” F or o ne, i t ma y me an providing mo re co mmunity s ervices. F or a nother, i t may mean stiffer sentencing. Many indi viduals b ecome p rosecutors b ecause they a re dra wn t o t he dra ma o f t he co urtroom. L aw school graduates typically set out for positions in t he prosecutor’s o ffice t o ga in val uable tr ial exp erience. Assistant dist rict a ttorneys f resh o ut o f la w s chool

opular elec tions; t he r est a re

typically st art wi th lo w-profile cas es, suc h as tra ffic violations, vandalism, or forged checks. After a while, they move up from misdemeanors to felonies. District Attorneys provide guidance g leaned f rom t heir years of experience. As t he c hief p rosecutor, t he Distr ict A ttorney decides who is charged with which crimes. Insiders say that most def endants a re no t “evil p eople” w ho p ose an unq uestionable da nger t o s ociety b ut, ra ther, indi- viduals with some weakness of character. One susp ect might have committed a robbery when drunk. Another might have had a conflict with a girlfriend and smashed her ca r. Yet a nother mig ht ha ve a dr ug addic tion. I n the course of a gi ven day, prosecutors make numerous judgment calls. S hould t he susp ect b e c harged? I f s o, with w hat cr ime? S hould t he cas e b e p lea-bargained or brought to trial? Should the defendant be tried as a juvenile or as an adult? Most prosecutor’s offices are divided into divisions:

criminal, s ex o ffender, j uvenile, a nd s o o n. A ssistant district a ttorneys mak e u p a bout a t hird o f t he st aff; paralegals, investigators, victim advocates, and support staff constitute the rest. Because they head up the office, District Attorneys can launch new programs if they see a need. For example, t hey mig ht get a gra nt to st art a mediation program or a child abuse unit. Caseloads in p rosecutor’s offices tend to be heavy. No s ooner is o ne cas e s olved t hrough tr ial o r p lea

bargain than a new set of cases piles up on the docket. District A ttorneys co mmonly des cribe t heir w ork as

some va riation o f “shoveling s and aga inst t he tides,” writes Mark Baker in D.A.: Prosecutors in Their Own Words. Election y ears o ften g enerate r enewed a ttention t o criminal-justice issues. I f, f or exa mple, a r eferendum

licy, Di s-

on th e ballo t call s f or a c hange in drug po

trict Attorneys might express their point of view to the media. Prosecutors often can be seen on the TV news, responding t o v erdicts a nd exp ressing o pinions a bout law-enforcement policies.

Although t he p osition va ries f rom st ate t o st ate, common responsibilities of District Attorneys include

• Overseeing the local police

• Monitoring a buses o f t he co nstitutional r ights o f citizens

• Preparing budgets

• Dealing with personnel issues (e.g., recruiting minor- ity assistant district attorneys)

• Assigning cases

• Participating on community task forces dealing with issues such as juvenile crime and sentencing

• Incorporating ne w t echnology suc h as deo xyribo- nucleic acid (DNA) testing

Salaries

Salaries va ry acco rding t o t he size o f t he o ffice a nd whether the position is f ull time or part time. In small areas, many District Attorneys are part-time employees, earning about $36,000 a year, according to the National District Attorneys Association. Full-time District Attor-

neys e arn a pproximately $97,000 a y

sized offices and $115,000 in large jurisdictions.

ear in medi um-

Employment Prospects

Employment p rospects a re fa ir b ecause, al though t he number o f p ositions is r elatively small , s o, t oo, is t he number o f q ualified ca ndidates w ho s eek t hem. E lec- tions f or Distr ict A ttorney dif fer gr eatly f rom o ther contests in t hat candidates must be lawyers, preferably with a bac kground in p rosecution. W hen a Distr ict Attorney decides no t t o s eek r eelection, a n assist ant district a ttorney typ ically r uns f or t he p osition. The median len gth o f s ervice f or Dis trict A ttorneys is six years, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects are good t o excellent b ecause District Attorneys can move in a va riety of directions.

Many seek judgeships, although these positions can be hard to come by and highly political. Others may seek higher office such as that of attorney general or lieuten- ant governor. Still others move into higher-paying posi- tions in government or private practice.

Education and Training

Law s chool and a la w degree are required for District Attorneys in o rder to qualify for office. Assistant Dis- trict A ttorneys a re als o la wyers. A bac helor’s degr ee, though, ma y b e suf ficient f or o ther p ositions wi thin the office, including investigator, paralegal, and victim advocate. Law-school students have a va riety of undergradu- ate majors—including political science, criminal justice, and English. Once in law school, individuals interested in becoming prosecutors should take courses in cr imi- nal law.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Most District Attorneys have extensive trial experience. As the chief prosecutor, the District Attorney must have excellent j udgment in decidin g w ho is c harged wi th which crimes. Pressures t o k eep co nviction ra tes c limbing f rom one p olitical s eason t o t he next ca n b e in tense. Dis- trict Attorneys must bala nce p olitical exp ediency wi th political j ustice, t oughness wi th co mpassion. “ People want you to be tough on crime unless it’s their nephew,” observed one District Attorney. “Then they want you to be reasonable.” Seeing h uman na ture a t i ts w orst ca n ha ve a p ro- found im pact o n p rosecutors. C ynicism a nd pa ranoia may set in. Insiders say that the best District Attorneys manage t o r etain t heir fa ith in h umanity, alb eit o ne tarnished b y t heir gr itty exp osure t o cr ime. Distr ict Attorneys assume an enormous responsibility for deal- ing with the wrongs committed in society. They should believe in “ doing t he r ight t hing.” A s p ublic o fficials, they must be able to communicate effectively with the public.

Unions and Associations

The National District Attorneys Association represents individuals in t he field, as do st ate associations of Dis- trict Attorneys.

Tips for Entry

1. Seek an internship in a prosecutor’s office.

2. Plan o n a ttending la w s chool if y ou wa nt t o b e a District Attorney or assistant district attorney.

While in la w school, seek a c lerkship in a p ros- ecutor’s office and participate in mo ot court, in which students prepare and argue a brief in front of a panel of judges.

3. Browse the Internet, using the keywords prosecu- tor and/or district attorney.

4. Follow the news to get a sense of the kind of work done by District Attorneys.

STATE LEGISLATOR

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Sponsoring bills; deciding on legislation; repre- senting co nstituents; s erving o n co mmittees; mak- ing policy

Alternate T itle(s): S enator, Rep resentative, A ssembly Member, Lawmaker Salary Range: $15,000 to $60,000+ Employment Prospects: Fair to poor Advancement Prospects: Fair Best Geographical Location(s): Varies Prerequisites:

Education or Training—No formal requirements Experience—No formal requirements Special Sk ills and P ersonality Traits—Keen inter-

nd t he p olitical p rocess; co nsensus-

making skills; leadership; dedication and stamina

est in issues a

CAREER LADDER U.S. Congress or Statewide Office or Other Career State Legislator Local Political Office
CAREER LADDER
U.S. Congress or Statewide Office or
Other Career
State Legislator
Local Political Office or Other Career

Position Description

State Legislators view their role as midle vel lawmakers in a va riety o f wa ys. S ome a re co ntent t o s tay w here they a re, a t le ast f or t he time b eing. Ot hers wa nt t o move up within the state legislature, perhaps from the House of Representatives to the more prestigious Sen- ate. S till o thers s ee th eir p osition a s a s pringboard t o higher office, as a mem ber of Congress, governor, or a state auditor or treasurer or as secretary of state. Fifty p ercent o f t he mem bers o f C ongress a nd 64 percent o f t he na tion’s g overnors s erved p reviously as State Legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. State Legislators can also move up to st atewide o ffices suc h as st ate tr easurer o r a uditor. Like mem bers o f C ongress, S tate L egislators b ecome well-versed in the two-house, two-party system of gov- erning. The y sp onsor b ills, mak e f loor sp eeches, v ote on legisla tion, r epresent co nstituents, det ermine b ud- gets, and sit on committees. Over t he y ears st ate legisla tures ha ve b ecome increasingly full-time and professional. The o ld “slow- witted, ciga r-smoking p olitician” has gi ven wa y t o a younger, mo re ed ucated b reed o f legisla tor, acco rding to Legislative Life author Alan Rosenthal. No longer are these b odies inha bited s olely b y w hite men. W omen and minorities have joined their ranks. States, meanwhile, have assumed greater importance in t he p olicy-making a rena, wi th la rger p rofessional

staffs helping busy legislators do their jobs. Such devel- opments no twithstanding, ma ny ci tizens co ntinue t o hold State Legislators (and politicians in general) in low esteem. I ronically, ma ny indi viduals still wa nt t o r un for public office, including that as State Legislator. They want the power, the attention, the stimulation, and the chance t o make a dif ference. For many, p olitics offers the excitement of a “sport” for grown-ups. The decisio n t o r un f or o ffice ra rely is sudden.

Instead, i t usuall y is de veloped o ver time . M any S tate Legislators grew up in politically involved families, par- ticipated in school government, and served at the local level. New opportunities have opened up as a r esult of the breakdown of the political “machine.” Often, S tate L egislators w ork f ull time o n g overn-

ession a nd

part-time the rest of the year. Many juggle their legisla- tive duties with another line of work. About 16 p ercent of State Legislators are lawyers, according to the National Conference o f S tate L egislatures. F ifteen p ercent iden- tify t hemselves as f ull-time legisla tors, a n umber t hat has grown over the years. Other common o ccupations include those of entrepreneur and educator. Legislative s chedules va ry f rom st ate t o s tate. I n some s tates t he legisla ture meets f or o nly a co uple o f months a y ear, whereas in o thers it is f ull-time. When legislatures are in s ession, State L egislators commonly work from early in the morning until late at night.

ment b usiness w hen t he legisla ture is in s

A typ ical da y f or a S tate L egislator is ja m-packed

with listening, negotiating, debating, and voting. Busi- ness is dis cussed o ver b reakfast, l unch, a nd dinner . Common responsibilities include

• Conferring with staff

• Meeting with lobbyists

• Talking to reporters

• Attending committee and subcommittee meetings

• Returning phone calls

• Exploring policy issues

• Introducing b ills a nd/or p ersuading co lleagues t o cosponsor or support them

• Debating with colleagues

• Voting on legislation

State L egislators v oice t heir o wn p olitical visio n

largely t hrough t he legisla tion t hey sp onsor. S enators and representatives have their own “pet” issues, related to t he a rts, t he en vironment, he alth ca re, o r p ublic safety. Sometimes, too, State Legislators sponsor bills to please their constituents. without expecting the legisla- tion to get passed. After b ills a re dra fted a nd in troduced, t hey a re referred to committees. Some bills simply die in co m- mittee. Others are referred to subcommittees or sched- uled for hearings. Once a bill is reviewed, the committee schedules it for debate on the f loor. Bills may then b e approved, amended, referred back to committee, post- poned, defeated, or reconsidered.

If approved, the bill is considered by the second house.

The second house either concurs, allowing for the bill to pass, o r r equests c hanges. The tw o ho uses t hen tr y t o reach an agreement, or the bill is defeated. Bills approved by both houses then go to the governor for a signature or a veto, which the legislature might then override. State L egislators v ote o n h undreds o f b ills a y ear. Deciding o n co mplex issues wi th a sim ple “ yea” o r “nay” can be especially difficult, insiders say. Party alli- ances and recommendations from interest groups often help with the decision making. As the legislative session winds t o a c lose, pressure intensifies. B ills p ile u p, wa iting f or de cisions. Then, after t he f inal v otes ha ve b een cast, S tate L egislators take stock of the session. How productive was it? What were the ups and downs? How many of their own bills were passed?

During t he in terim, S tate L egislators sp end mo re time in the district, attending events and talking to peo- ple. Insiders say that constituents want a “good man” or “good w oman” w ho ca res eno ugh a bout them to s eek them out and talk to them personally.

Unlike members of Congress, most State Legislators

live in t heir distr icts, a ffording t hem t he o pportunity to stay in c lose touch with their constituents. Working on the state level can be rewarding, as the scale is small enough to allow them to see results. But, for some State Legislators, the chance to move up to the national level

is impossible to resist. Instead of running again for State

Legislator, these individuals scope out possible seats in Congress.

Salaries

Salaries vary greatly from state to state, according to the National C onference of State L egislatures. State L egisla- tors in N ew Hampshire make $200 f or a tw o-year term;

those in C alifornia e arn a bout $110,000 a y

ear. S ome

state legislatures, such as Alabama, pay by the day and/or offer allowances for daily expenses. Pay raises are hard to

obtain because they are politically unpopular with voters.

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are fair to p oor, dep ending on the state. Competition is st iffest in la rge, full-time leg- islatures without term limits. Seats open up much more quickly in small states with term limits. If an incumbent decides not to seek reelection, a ne wcomer might have

a better chance of winning the seat.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement p rospects a re fa ir. An indi vidual mig ht fail t o win r eelection, t hus limi ting his o r her p ossi- bilities f or ad vancement, t emporarily a nyway. Amo ng those reelected, levels of ambition vary from one State Legislator to the next. Some indi viduals wa nt t o r eturn t o t heir p revious careers, w hich a re o ften mo re l ucrative t han s erving in the legislatures. Others want to move up within the state legislature, either to leadership positions or from the House of Representatives to the Senate (sometimes called th e u pper h ouse). S till o thers s eek a ppointed positions or higher office such as governor or member of the U.S. Congress. Ascending the political ladder can be extremely dif- ficult. The n umber of p ositions decreases as o ne r ises to t he next le vel. C ompared t o a t otal o f 7,400 S tate Legislators, there are only 435 U.S. representatives, 100 senators, and 50 g overnors, according t o t he National Conference of State Legislatures.

Education and Training

Although a nyone, r egardless o f bac kground, ca n r un for t he st ate legislature, many S enators and Represen- tatives ha ve ad vanced degr ees. S tates det ermine t heir

own eligibility requirements for office, requiring candi- dates to live in the district and be a certain age. In many states, the minimum age is 21 for the House and 25 for the Senate.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

State L egislators ha ve a va riety o f bac kgrounds (e .g., law, ed ucation, a nd b usiness) b ut sha re a n in terest in and often a passion for the political process. All need to campaign for office. Fund-raising, public speaking, and problem-solving skills help on the campaign trail. Both on the campaign trail and in office, they must be able to inspire and motivate their constituents and staff. Being a s uccessful State Legislator depends in la rge part o n ha ving str ong co nsensus-making skills. S ome legislatures a re kno wn f or t heir in tense fac tionalism. State L egislators must know how to compromise with their co lleagues a nd s atisfy t he co nflicting dema nds of their constituents. As do ma ny positions in p olitics, the job o f State Legislator requires massive amounts of energy and stamina.

Unions and Associations

The National Conference of State Legislatures provides professional a ssistance t o St ate L egislators an d t heir staffs.

Tips for Entry

1. Develop an interest in p olitics and an awareness of the issues of your own community.

2. Get involved in a p olitical campaign for a candi- date or an issue.

3. Participate in p olitical pa rty ac tivities. C olleges often have groups affiliated with various political parties.

4. Visit the legislature.

5. Intern or work as a legislative staffer. Some legis- lators began their careers as legislative assistants or other staffers.

6. Ask yourself whether you would have the stam- ina and flexibility for this kind of work.

7. Realize t hat s ome s eats a re mo re co mpetitive than others. A small s eat vacated by an incum- bent is usuall y easier to win t han a b ig one held by a popular legislator. The House of Representa- tives has more seats than the Senate, thus making it the less competitive of the two bodies.

GOVERNOR

CAREER PROFILE

Duties: Serving as top government leader for the state; recommending budgets and programs to t he legis- lature; assuming special judicial powers such as t he granting of pardons Salary Range: $65,000 to $179,000 Employment Prospects: Poor Advancement Prospects: Good Best Geographical Location(s): None Prerequisites:

Education or Training—No formal requirements Experience—Residency and age requirements vary- ing by state

CAREER LADDER Federal Office or Other Career Governor Other Political Office or Career Special S
CAREER LADDER
Federal Office or Other Career
Governor
Other Political Office or Career
Special S kills and P ersonality Traits—Persuasive-
ness; sha rp p olitical in stincts; st amina; willin gness
to listen; commitment; ability to command respect

Position Description

Governors are the states’ equivalent of the president of the United S tates. L ike t he p resident, t he G overnor is the chief executive, setting policy, developing budgets, appointing k ey p ersonnel, a nd ex ercising v eto p ower. Four out of five of the latest presidents have served as Governor: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Governors d eal wi th m any o f th e sa me i ssues a s presidents b ecause s tates ha ve as sumed r esponsibili- ties o nce held b y t he f ederal g overnment. Distr ust o f Washington in siders has ele vated t he na tion’s G over- nors to new status over the other two main paths to the presidency: t he vice p residency a nd t he U .S. S enate. Whereas Governors used to become U.S. senators, but not vice v ersa, now some U.S. senators are leaving the comfort of their posts to run for Governor. As they see it, b eing G overnor o ffers a n o pportunity t o g et mo re done because they need not vie for power with 99 other legislators a nd wa it y ears f or k ey a ppointments. G ov- ernors can us e executive p ower to push t hrough t heir own initiatives. Much has c hanged o ver t he y ears f or U.S. G over- nors. W hereas G overnors in co lonial times assumed nearly total control in the name of the Crown, those in the new republic had limit