When a Political Campaign Leads to a Paycheck
What kind of person can make the successful jump from another career into the wild-and-woolly world of political campaigns? Almost anyone, says John Philips, CEO of Aristotle, Inc, a Washington DC-based political consulting firm.
Phillips says that people typically join political campaigns for one of three reasons: they're committed to the candidate and the issues, they're committed to the party, or they just love the democratic process.
For Tasha Jamerson, a former television reporter in Philadelphia, it was the first reason.
In 2009, Jamerson was looking for a change from the hectic world of TV news after the birth of her son. But she still wanted excitement, similar to what her job provided. Seth Williams, then the Democratic candidate for district attorney, was on the hunt for a director of communications for his campaign. Because of Tasha's strong reputation and history as a local news reporter, her name was suggested.
Get Involved Early or Be Very, Very Good
With a campaign, it helps to get on the bandwagon as early as possible. (It's not too early to join a Congressional campaign, or even a presidential one, as a matter of fact -- even if you have to volunteer to get your foot in the door.)
Jamerson joined Williams' district attorney race a little late, but she got lucky and was hired as a staffer. Her knowledge and relationships with media in Philadelphia added to her indispensability. In addition, as a former reporter, she knew how to tell a story and how to provide the information necessary to tell a good story -- essential skills for a director of communications.
Despite the fact that Jamerson had no political experience, that didn't bother Williams. "We had people on my campaign staff and Tasha was able to learn quickly the issues related to a campaign," says Williams. "It was her experience as a journalist that helped her in getting our message out."
There's Always a Loser...and a Winner
Most races are not a "sure thing." The campaign team for the Philadelphia DA race wasn't 100 percent confident their candidate would win. But they were optimistic, based on his ideas and his background. Hard work, long hours, and honing the strategies that define politics all played a part.
Williams won his race for Philadelphia District Attorney -- good news for Jamerson, now Director of Communications for the District Attorney.
Across his campaign, there was a common thread to the people who became staffers. "It's a commitment to my vision for reforming the DA's office," says Williams. "People of very high integrity that I wanted to continue working with me. People who had an aptitude for being problem solvers. You see people who have aptitude and people who have attitude. You want the right attitude and aptitude to learn no matter what the responsibility."
But in any race, there's a loser. Philips notes that losing campaigns aren't the end of the world, because good campaign workers will find employment. There tends to be more job security working for political consulting firms such as Philips' company, Aristotle Inc. There are always campaigns going on and they often need the services of consulting firms. (By the way, his company is HIRING.)
Job Security When There's Always a Race
When it comes to job security for the winning team, there's always an eye toward the next race -- since all political terms come to an end. Jamerson left a career in TV news for one that requires her boss to be re-elected in four years. Still, she is not worried.
After all, the media industry (like many others) has taken a hit over the past few years -- with thousands of layoffs, companies shutting down, and consolidation. "I have much more job stability in this job," Jamerson says.
Want to follow in Jamerson's footsteps? Read here for our tips on how to party your way to a job.