Television advertisements discrediting political candidates have halted. Phone calls and house visits to promote voting have stopped.
The end of these campaign efforts has meant the end of thousands of campaign jobs.
With a wealth of entry level and internship positions, local and national campaigns attracted scores of recent college graduates to their teams.
Chris Jones, presidents of PoliTemps, a D.C. political and public affairs staffing agency, estimated the total jobs in national, state and local campaigns in 2012 at 3,000 jobs based on information from the FEC.
The temporary nature of these jobs left many young workers unemployed or led them to new posts come December.
“Even when you win, you are generally without a job when the campaign closes,” said Ben Katz, founder of CompleteCampaigns.com, a San Diego-based company that provides web-based services to political campaigns.
As a field organizer for the Minnesota DFL party, Christina Carberry spent the months leading up to the 2012 elections coordinating and training volunteers for Congressman Keith Ellison’s reelection campaign. The 23-year-old University of Iowa graduate strove to infuse volunteers and coworkers with the enthusiasm necessary to make campaign phone calls and door-to-door efforts successful.
“I enjoy working with people, but it’s definitely a lot of work. There are long hours and it takes a lot of dedication. You have to be passionate about what you’re working for,” she said.
Ellison won Election Day. A week later, Carberry was jobless. She hopes to find work in the state legislation or a position with a political or non-profit organization. Her campaign experience has not translated into anything yet, but she remains hopeful because of the relationships she formed with coworkers on the campaign.
“Those connections are really valuable for improving the community in the future and potentially finding a job that I’m passionate about,” she said.
From campaign trail to mountain town
For five months, Adam Masurovsky worked as an intern for the Obama campaign in Chicago, researching the factors that would swing the Jewish vote. After a move to Seattle, he then spent three months working on the campaign to approve Referendum 74, the legislation that would legalize gay marriage in Washington. His canvassing work on the campaign put him face to face with voters.
“It became a really interesting challenge to try to understand, in the moment you’re having a conversation with someone, why they have a completely opposite understanding of the same issue as I do and try to appeal to their understanding of it,” he said.
Masurovsky, a 2012 Northwestern University graduate, took up a different cause when the election ended. He is working as a ski instructor for 3-year-olds to 6-year-olds at Breckenridge Ski Resort this winter. Masurovsky said he sees his move to Colorado as unusual step in the post-campaign trajectory, but perhaps it is not that out of the ordinary.
“A lot of people come off of campaigns and take a deep breath” Jones said. “The first thing they do is decompress.”
An eventual return?
While Masurovsky stepped away from politics this winter, he plans a potential return. When the ski season ends, he might move back to the D.C. area and pursue a job with a political research group or think tank. Katz said he sees the campaign work as invaluable experience for future endeavors.
“It is one of the highest-pressure jobs out there. Think about any other job. You’re working on a project, if you don’t launch it quite in time, it’s not that big of a deal you can launch a week later,” he said. “It may not be good for the company, but it’s not the end of the world. For a campaign, if you don’t make the deadline, if you don’t get things done by Election Day, everybody gets fired.”
Masurovsky found the excitement the high-pressure environment created and the camaraderie it fostered rewarding. When asked if he would consider working for a campaign again, Masurovsky did not hesitate for a moment. “Definitely.”
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