Let's make 2020 the year we break records for the number of women serving in elected office! By volunteering or working on a campaign, YOU can play a major role in electing more women. IGNITE alumna Emily Kaplan has rounded up some tips from her time working on campaigns to inspire you.
Work for someone that you believe in!
Campaigns take a lot of hard work over many long hours. When you work for a candidate you believe in, it is much easier to keep going when you start to feel burned out. I have worked on a few different races before, but working as Mckayla Wilkes’ Deputy Campaign Manager has shown me just how special it is to work on a movement-based congressional race. Our movement is made up of brilliant and dedicated volunteers who, despite working full-time, spend hours of their free time helping out in any way they can. Whenever I start to feel tired or overwhelmed, I just think about all of the awesome people taking time out of their lives to make the world better, and it makes it much easier to get up every morning.
Campaigns move at an extremely fast pace, so it is important to be flexible with your expectations, strategy, and schedule. Many campaigns have failed because those in charge refused to pivot their strategy when it was not working. Do not be afraid to try new things and do not be afraid to abandon them and try something new if they do not work. It is important to have a long term plan, but make sure you can be flexible in your path to victory.
Celebrate small wins.
You do not see the payoff of a campaign until it is over, so it is very important to find small things to celebrate each day. This can be something as small as having a really great conversation at a door or meeting your volunteer recruitment goal.
Keep a good record of all your contacts.
Some of the best post-grad, job search advice I have gotten is to keep an updated record of all of the contacts I made in undergrad. Social networks are extremely valuable when it comes to getting any job, but it is especially true for campaigns. Having a system for storing all of the contacts you make can really pay off when you start your job search.
It is pretty difficult to get a full-time position on a campaign without any previous experience. However, campaigns are always in need of volunteers to help with various aspects of their campaign from fundraising to field. This is a great way to dip your toe in to see if this is the path for you while making a difference!
Remind yourself that you are supposed to be here.
Being a young woman in politics can often come with some imposter syndrome. This is especially true for young women, women of color, as well as trans and nonbinary folks. Do not let anyone (including yourself) tell you that you do not belong in the world of campaigns. In fact, the nature of campaigns is that regular people come together to make positive changes in their community. If you see the need for change in your community, you are supposed to be here!
About Emily: Emily Kaplan is the Deputy Campaign Manager for Mckayla Wilkes. Wilkes is running as the progressive primary challenger of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in Maryland’s 5th district. Previously, she worked as an intern for State Senator Jeff Jackson, Congressman David Price, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Amnesty International USA, and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. After graduating from the University of Maryland, she worked as one of the field organizers that flipped Virginia’s State Legislature. Upon returning to Maryland, Mckayla’s operation had grown so big they were ready to start hiring staff and they brought on Emily as the new Deputy Campaign Manager.
Fun fact! Leading up to the 2018 midterms, IGNITE women like YOU volunteered over 10,000 hours on campaigns. Let's DOUBLE that in 2020. If you are currently with a campaign, we want to hear about it!
If you want to learn more about campaign work, attend an upcoming Boss Ladies training. We're coming to a city near you in 2020:
- January 25: Phoenix, AZ
- February 22: New York, NY
- March 14: Detroit, MI
- March 28: Austin, TX
- April 18: Atlanta, GA
- May 2: Las Vegas, NV
- May 16: Fresno, CA