Lionel Barzon III Political header

To see this post as a slideshow, visit Lionel Barzon III’s slideshare account here.

Primary election season is winding to a close, which means one thing for the politically-oriented amongst us: the November Presidential election is in the immediate future. Come November 8, voters will be asked to fill in a bubble to correspond with the name of the person who they think is best suited to lead our country.

But lost amongst the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton debates are the smaller elections that have been happening during primary season. Voting for Ron Cumpton or Charles Nana for Alabama senate, for instance, or John Rafferty or Josh Shapiro for Pennsylvania district attorney are elections that while smaller, are enormous in importance to both those located in those states as well as those involved with the campaigns.

Running a political campaign is far from an easy task–winning one is even harder. Here are six things you should know if you want to get a job on a political campaign.

Volunteer first

Running a political campaign is unlike anything I have experienced before compared to my retail and service positions I’ve held in the past. Having been a part of various levels of political campaigns during my college career, I have experienced first-hand the ins and outs of running a campaign. The only way to really get a good understanding of how to build, establish and run a political campaign is to experience it, and the best way to experience it is to volunteer. A job seeker who has a background volunteering in political campaigns bodes well for a future in public service at almost any level.

You CAN make an impact

During my political campaign experience, I saw the potential in what I was doing to make a real difference in the communities I lived in. I was tasked with managing small teams of interns and volunteers and guiding them in doing the bulk of the groundwork for local campaigns. I had a hands-on job within the political field, directly aiding politicians at canvassing events, rallies and speaking engagements and helping to raise funds for the campaign. All of these facets of the positions I held benefited both my personal and professional development in tremendous ways as well as the campaigns of the politicians with whom I was involved.

There will be long hours

More often than not, working long hours is a necessity of working in politics. This goes for everyone–from the campaign managers and other higher-ups all the way down. For many, this is an unfortunate fact, but for those of us who love being around politics, spending a lot of time at work can be energizing and an enjoyable experience. At one point during the final days leading up to our campaign’s elections day, I was working between 60 to 80 hours a week! Regardless of which camp you fall into, expect long hours and abbreviated sleep schedules if you choose to work full-time on a political campaign.

You need to learn how to work as a team

This should be obvious, but teamwork is key in political campaigning. The entire campaign team is united under a common cause: to seek and gain election for your politician. Managers and staffers and volunteers need to coordinate, put aside differences and strive for success. When the volunteers, staff, and candidate work and communicate on the same level to achieve the same goal of an election victory, unparalleled progress and benchmarks are obtained because of the team’s unity and cooperation.

You need to learn how to lose

Working in political campaigning means you’re not just working for one specific politician year after year or election after election. More often than not you’ll find yourself working for various politicians. As we’ve seen in virtually every election since the dawn of time, there are winners and there are losers. While it is your job to wind up in the former category more often than not, you will almost unavoidably end up losing elections during your professional career. The key in experiencing a losing campaign is to make sure you learn from your shortcomings and areas of weakness, and learn how to operate in a more efficient and cohesive manner on the next campaign you work with.

You will have an incredible experience like none other

Working for a politician seeking election gave me a deeper understanding of what goes into the administration side of running a campaign. The experience was almost indescribable; as I’ve mentioned before, there is a methodology and means of running a campaign that you never truly understand until you experience it yourself. And I highly encourage everyone to do so. The skill set you’ll build and develop for yourself in the process is truly worth the time and effort you will pour into the campaign.