I volunteered for the Brian Barnes for U.S. Congress campaign as a field staff intern. I actually contacted them through their Facebook page and got in touch with the Field Director, Ted York. He's a U of M alum and started the Students for Obama chapter on campus, and an all around great guy. Their office is up in Maple Grove, which is about a 30 minute drive from campus. I was tasked with putting information they had collected from voter calls into a database online. I also did some campaign research on the opposition (Erik Paulsen) and learned how his votes aligned with Bachmann's. My favorite part of the experience would have to be meeting their campaign manager Tom. He's been the political world for over 30 years and had some incredible insight on how campaigns are run. I was pretty astonished by how money is such a central aspect to everything they do. Without donors and funding, they wouldn't be able to do even the simplest of things, such as organizing volunteers and going out to knock on doors. This really made me appreciate the time and money that grassroots supporters put in to kickstart campaigns like Brian's. He hasn't held office before and Paulsen is a tough incumbent to run against, but people "had a little faith" as it were, and offered their resources to help him get started. I had a chance to meet almost everyone working on the campaign and learn all about the different jobs. From finance to social networking to field to event coordination... there are unlimited options. It was a very fast paced environment and depended a lot on quick wit and creativity! My only other political volunteering experience was working at a polling place in 2010 to help kids "vote" while their parents were voting. This was completely different. Obviously, if you ever have the opportunity to work at a polling place: do it! It's important to maintain the integrity of that system. However, I would definitely urge you to try to intern with a campaign sometime in the future. Meeting new people who have experience in the field was something that absolutely changed my perspective on elections and the possibility of myself going into politics.
Brian Barnes for Congress!
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