One of my Communication majors (and team members) wants a career in politics. Just this week, I managed to track down an old acquaintance, and former NDT champion, who's now a career political consultant. Here's the advice he gave me to pass along to my student.
To begin with, he recommended this book
. Then, he said,
"1. There is no substitute for working on a campaign - in every capacity. The best operatives and candidates all started out working on a campaign for free. The work long hours they do thankless tasks. If your student is ever in a position to run for office or even work in a senior position on a campaign it is invaluable to know first hand what the hundreds of volunteers and junior staffers do on a day in day out basis. Not only that, but it will help him know what his campaign staff should be doing so he can be a more effective candidate.
"2. Assuming he wants to run for office he needs to learn about his home town, county, city, state, whatever. Everyone thinks they know their hometown very well. They don't. Study the census, know what employers are there, learn about every infrastructure project, every nook and cranny of the budget, every community leader, class size by district, etc. etc. You can never know too much.
"3. Befriend the reporters, editors and publishers of the newspapers. There is no more subjective process than the process by which items are chosen for newspapers. If people like you they won't write bad things - if they don't know you they won't care if they ruin your life. It is much much easier to establish those relationships early on when you have very little to gain. Once you are a candidate journalists develop a very healthy skepticism of your overtures."