BY DRAKE RHONE
Now that the election season is coming to a close, several Drake students working on campaigns will finally be able to see the fruits of their labor.
Junior Jordan Sabine is one of these students. She took all of last year off to work as a field manager for Martin O’Malley’s campaign and is currently the campaign manager for Nate Boulton’s State Senate campaign. She said that Drake’s location in Iowa was helpful in achieving these positions.
“If you want to work on campaigns, there is no better place to be than Iowa,” Sabine said. “There are always campaigns going on, plus the caucuses every four years. Internships are incredibly easy to come by. Campaigns always want more help.”
“Once you’ve interned on a campaign or two, you can get a paid position. Places like DC also have these opportunities, but students compete with thousands and thousands of other students who want the same things. In Iowa, you can be a big fish in a little pond.”
Caroline Closson, a senior at Drake, took this semester off to work as a regional campaign manager for the Iowa House Truman Fund. One of the campaigns she manages is Jennifer Konfrst’s, candidate for the Iowa House of Representatives and Drake alum. Closson also gave praise to Des Moines’ political climate.
“I came to Drake because of the political opportunities in Des Moines,” Closson said. “Iowa is a swing state, meaning even on non-presidential years, it has plenty of races that are targeted as turnover seats up and down the ballot to work on. Des Moines has so many opportunities due to the amount of races that are highly competitive in the central Iowa area … We are also home to the Iowa caucus, where students can meet all the presidential candidates and attend debates and forums that few other areas in the country get the opportunity to see.”
Closson and Sabine both said they would recommend the experience of taking time off school to work on a campaign.
“Drake classes are helpful and necessary for young people who want to be involved in politics,” Sabine said. “However, real world experience is particularly necessary to build a career in politics, policy and campaigns. Drake emphasizes real world experience as well, so many of our professors come from professional backgrounds rather than just academia. I think that speaks for itself.”
Sabine said that even those who don’t see a lifelong career in politics would gain from the experience.
“Working on campaigns also helps your interpersonal skills,” Sabine said. “I used to hate talking to strangers and talking on the phone or debating political issues, but that’s basically my whole life now and I’m pretty good at it. Even if you don’t intend to run campaigns for the rest of your life, knowing how to talk on the phone or converse with someone who may not agree with anything you say is a vital skill to have.”
The election season ending this month means that students like Closson will be returning to school next semester. According to Sabine, the transition won’t be that hard.
“Coming back to school this semester has been surprisingly easy,” Sabine said. “I have worked 12 to 18 hours a day for the last year of my life, so going to class a few hours a day and writing a few papers seems too easy now.”