Politics is an important aspect of my life. Not just electoral politics, but international relations and understanding how politics affects every aspect of our lives. Everything moved so fast when I started in politics. Recently, I stopped to think about how I started. I’ve done this work for over 7 years and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong, as I get older, I don’t plan on staying in some aspects of electoral politics because it is physically and mentally draining work for a good cause. I will never completely leave because campaigns never end. I just might not work as many campaigns. So for young women and students interested in getting involved, let me break down my beginning in politics and how I got my start.
Before I begin, I have to make clear that I have a lot of privilege and access when it comes to politics. Due to the different internships, my proximity to access, and college, I find myself in a position where I can participate in politics. I can afford to take jobs that don’t pay as well on campaigns because I have something to fall back on. I can afford to take unpaid or low-paid internships during the summers in college because my parents had the ability to support me during those times. This isn’t me rubbing that in people’s faces, but I have to acknowledge it. Privilege is a major part of what makes politics run, and how many people get involved.
Privilege is a part of this story and part of why I still do this work. I want to help people who don’t have that access get into politics. We need more diverse voices, not just of ethnicity and race, but also of socioeconomic status, background, and more. People should be able to afford to work in this space. Yet, the elitism within politics makes that difficult without undoing and rebuilding the entire system. I’m going to get back to the story now, but I will be speaking on this again.
While I really got my first view into politics through the Obama ’08 and ’12 campaigns as a canvasser with my parents, I don’t want to say my story begins there. Sure, this piqued my interest, but as a 15 year old, I really didn’t care about politics truly. My true start was actually in 2017. A friend and I went to go canvass with the Jon Ossoff for Congress team. He was running for the district that I grew up in and I really enjoyed just meeting people in the district and learning from them. I ended up working up from a canvassing intern to a comms intern on the last day, helping with the press on the day of the runoff.
After that, I worked for the Abrams campaign. I tried to get onto a different race, but was unsuccessful. Instead, I did some digging. While I wasn’t able to be full-time because of college, I could help part-time at any field office. I noticed there was a new office near me, so I walked in one day and just asked if they needed staff. Really, I just made myself available in the moment, giving up the rest of my day to help set up the office, but it was worth it. It was a Saturday, so I was free. Eventually, I was able to move from a canvassing staffer to a deputy field organizer in 3 months, because I made myself available. I put myself out there and wasn’t afraid of shooting my shot.
I failed. Many many times. In the midst of that, I met really amazing mentors and colleagues who have became support systems. They’ve helped me get jobs, helped me get into grad school, and helped in the darkest of times. People who opened doors and helped get me to where I am today. Politics, just as other careers, is all about who you know and if they’ll vouch for you. Finding that core group of people is essential. Yet, many people struggle or find themselves pigeonholed in certain sectors, especially the Black and Brown organizers I know.
It’s challenging trying to prove your worth to people who don’t want to see you outside of a specific role. Just know that you’re worth it. In politics, people are often told to stay in their lane. Not to rock the boat. To take the opportunities given to them and that you should only be grateful and not complain. If you watched the NYC mayor’s race, you might’ve heard about what happened with Dianne Morales’ team. I was so proud to see young organizers stand up for themselves, demand the money they were owed, and not just sit there and shut up take it. I follow my passions and I work really really hard. But I’ve also come into my own more than when I started.
Leaving a job is daunting. Leaving the wrong way can burn bridges, but sometimes, you can’t be afraid of leaving. When situations aren’t good for your mental health. Your paychecks aren’t equitable or fair for the work done. You and your time are being abused by the workplace environment. When you burn out. While campaigns and electoral politics might hold it against you, sometimes you have to do what’s right for you. You are worth it. Your mental and physical health are worth it. Don’t be intimidated into just taking it, but fight for a better system for those who follow you.
I’m not going to lie. Working in politics is tough. It is draining, but it is also so worth it. The story is far from over, but I love what I do. Getting my start was about putting that work in, but also having access. Politics is a game of chess, but that first and second move can set you up for a major rise, and quickly. Getting to that point though takes a lot of support. If anyone is looking for support or advice, reach out to me. I’m always happy to help. Believe in yourself and don’t put up with the BS if you don’t have to. Stand your ground and do good work. Eventually, people will take notice and if they don’t, get in touch and I’ll help wherever I can.