How Political Campaigning Can Turn into Job Success


The Presidential Campaign is history and now thousands of volunteers are looking for jobs during this down market economy. One advantage they have: They are armed with the skills that can translate into great career opportunities.

Whether working on behalf of Senator McCain and Sarah Palin or President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden's efforts, the campaign trail offered tons of life and career experiences.

And even though the election is over, political organizations on both sides of the fence are always looking for volunteers, work that can not only help further you beliefs but help further your career, too.

Ebonie Johnson Cooper spent six weeks on the campaign trail in Ohio on behalf of President-Elect Barack Obama.

To learn more about how Cooper's experiences can serve her at her next job, MainStreet talked to Darrell Luzzo, Senior Vice President of Organizational development and Training for Oncure Medical Corporation and Former President of National Career Development Association.

Here are Cooper's experiences, paired with Luzzo's take on how it could help her career's next stage.

Cooper: They teach you about knocking on doors, making phone calls, and recruiting.

Luzzo: Being able to demonstrate any set of transferable skills to an employer is an asset because many times you’re asked for specific examples, [which volunteers gained on the trail]. Think of people challenged to talk to strangers or to work in a team, the skills of persuasion is getting individuals to buy them into a concept. It’s an amazing work skill to demonstrate the ability to work with strangers and be persuasive, and folks that have been involved with campaign work need to highlight these transferable skills.

Cooper: As far as business skills or job skills, I’m better at organizing, and [at] putting the pedal to the medal.

Luzzo: A lot of times those skills are useful in whatever job you go into. There’s not a single employer that is going to say "No, I'm not interested in people that work well in a team." A lot of interviews are called behavioral interviews, and they ask when you had to deal with rejection on the job. On the campaign trail, [people] dealt with rejection every day on the job. These are perfect examples to refer to in a behavioral interview. Don’t think because it was volunteer [position] that it’s not work –[employers] consider that just as meaningful as a person making $100,000 a year.

Cooper: I learned team building because it wasn’t just me working on a project. I was working with five or six people of various age groups and figuring out how to make a project work.

Luzzo: The work force will continue to become diverse among generations. The work force is aging… and we know workers will stay in the work place longer, so hiring individuals who have the capacity to work across generational lines is going to become increasingly important. The ability to demonstrate positive experiences working with older employees is going to be most important and valuable to prospective employers.

Cooper: I built great relationships at my last job.

Luzzo: The majority of jobs obtained these days are through networking. It’s who you know and how you utilize who you know in meaningful ways. One thing to do, using social networking Web sites like, is to stay linked verbally, digitally, and stay reach out those that are a part of your network and to periodically get in touch with these people. Get together for lunch. It’s very difficult for someone to say no to a free lunch or a free dinner.

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