Next year registered voters will go to the polls to elect the 45th President of United States. For some voters the election will represent the first time they have the opportunity to choose a leader who will influence the nation’s trajectory over the next four years. Each Presidential election is important, however, the increased awareness on college campuses and local communities is influencing voters. Socially consciousness voters are listening intently to candidate’s platforms on a variety of issues including pay equity, religious freedom, immigration, community policing, housing discrimination and foreign affairs. While electing the next President is critical voters have to recognize that elections for Congress, Senate, governor, mayor, city council will also take place in jurisdictions throughout the country. Returning and first time voters have the power to elect leaders committed to upholding democratic principles and eliminating barriers for minority and underserved communities. Becoming actively involved in politics can led to systemic change. For example, college aged voters played a pivotal role electing President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Nearly four years later millennials will have an opportunity to elect the next leader of United States (US). Taking time to determine whether Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and others should be the next President of the U.S. is vital. Political season is in full swing and will offer college students an opportunity to volunteer for political campaigns. Working on a campaign is a rewarding experience and could lead to a career in politics fighting for political and social change.
My personal experience working for local campaigns in my home state of Pennsylvania increased my awareness of political issues and led me to the steps of the U.S. Capitol. I spent nearly a year working as a Congressional Fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) and eventually the Legislative Director for former Congressman Major R. Owens (11th NY). Volunteering for campaigns as a college student was a precursor to my time as a senior staffer. It is important that millennials volunteer for political campaigns and become change agents. You develop a variety of skills that are transferable to the job market and learn to work in fast paced environments with individuals from different backgrounds. There are several benefits to volunteering for a campaign(s) including:
- The challenge of a new experience- Every new challenge in life forces you rise to the occasion. Volunteering for a campaign is a unique experience that will help develop your critical thinking and logical reasoning skills. You will be tasked with solving problems that could change the candidate’s poll numbers. Embrace the impossible scenario and watch your confidence rise.
- Campaigns are always in flux- It’s not uncommon for staffers to come and go throughout a campaign. Last weeks intern could be tomorrow’s senior staffer. If you work hard, listen intently and understand the issues you will be surprised how quickly you could earn a seat at the table.
- Get to know the candidate- Perhaps you spent time reading and admiring a candidate from afar. If it’s a local campaign volunteering could bring you in contact with the candidate. That experience could change your life and maybe you consider a career in politics.
- Build your confidence- Bright, clever individuals will have opportunities to showcase their skills. Don’t despair if your political career starts off with picking up coffee, packages or ordering sandwiches. Listen to what is happening and pounce on a task that no one else is interesting in completing. It could be your chance to showcase what you learned in that political science class.
- Shape policy- You could become an integral part of the policy team. Eventually your insight could convince the candidate to take a stand on an issue that changes the campaign. Remember “fortune favors the bold.”
- Understanding the political machine- Working on a campaign will prepare you for the future. Developing contacts and specific skills including understanding campaign finance laws will propel your career.
- Establishing contacts- Campaigns are full of over achievers with corporate, non-profit and government contacts. Need a letter of recommendation for graduate or professional school? Looking for a new job? Moving to a new country? Your contact(s) could make life a lot easier.
- Fighting for social justice- Perhaps you witnessed something on campus, home or television that changed the way you see the world. What are you going to do about it? We live in a nation built on democratic principles. Go and change the world.
- Realizing your voice matters- It sounds simple but you don’t realize that what you think and believe can make a difference.
- If you don’t help, who will- Making a difference begins with you. The world needs more change agents. Don’t let apathy prevent you from challenging traditional beliefs.
The list is not comprehensive. There are certainly a few issues I failed to consider. Feel free to use the #politics2016 and contact me via Twitter (@LarryJWalker2) to continue the conversation.