Student government may be over for the year, but this summer, Congress will still be very much in session. 2018 is a watershed year for politics. With more women and people of color running for office than any other time in history and arguably more people marching in the streets than any administration since Nixon, the opportunities to get involved are endless. So what if Sarah Blair became a state legislator when she was practically your age? YOU are going to do something other than read Fire and Fury for the seventh time this vacation. In this post, we will discuss the ways in which students interested in politics can leverage their summer vacation to get ahead in the polls.
Work on a Campaign
The midterms, perhaps some of the most contentious in recent history, are gearing up and you should consider getting in on a piece of the action. Granted you are a political junkie, you probably already know who is running in your area, from senator to dog-catcher. Dig a little deeper and find out which of these races (ideally one with a state-wide or national spotlight) is the most contentious. Reach out to the campaign and offer your services. Now for the tricky part: Because you’re in high school, they will likely assume you are well-suited for a low-level position, but what you DO NOT want to do is spend your summer being the 2nd assistant to the person who runs out for coffee. Politics is all about schmoozing. Make a list of all of your qualifications, study the ins-and-outs of the race, edit your resume so it looks extremely professional, and take a high-level campaign official to coffee. You don’t just want to be a field canvasser. You want to secure a summer position as an organizer or an assistant to one of the directors. Aim high and ensure that you will be working hard and learning a lot. The people beside whom you work should prove to be a powerful connection when you’re ready to start your presidential run in earnest.
If you need some help landing a position that will be worth your time, reach out to us. We will help you, not only get connected to the people on the campaign doing the hiring but also position yourself so you are a competitive candidate.
Taking a rigorous college course at a prestigious university is a great way to impress the admissions committees. Some of the nation’s top universities offer courses for high schoolers interested in politics, as well as the opportunity to stay on campus and get a feel for what college life is like. If you’re going to take a course (or a few courses) make sure you take it at a highly-ranked school. The goals here are to challenge yourself and to really take advantage of the opportunity to learn something. So, while the urge to take one easy course and slack off the rest of the summer might be strong, resist. While spending the summer taking more classes may not initially sound appealing, consider the fact that you’ll only be taking courses in an arena that interests you. In fact, our recommendation is actually to pair a class (or more than one class) with another activity. The midterms are lit and while it might require a bit of extra work on your part, you should do what you can to get involved.
Harvard is one of many universities offering courses in politics. Students who opt-in for the summer can choose between classes in American politics, international politics, democracy, statistical analysis, and geography and politics. Stanford and NYU also offer a number of courses in political science, ranging from foreign policy to studies in national security.
Other universities offer less-conventional in-classroom courses. If you intend to run for office one day, check out the Brown Leadership Institute. This program focuses on social responsibility and leadership, allowing high schoolers to learn about problem-solving from some of the nation’s top faculty and devise an action-plan for a project that’s important to them.
One word of caution: taking a course at a particular school does not guarantee you extra-credit with that school’s admissions committee. Harvard will be no more impressed that you took one of their summer courses than they will if you took one at Brown.
There is, perhaps, no better investment of your time than snagging a really great internship. While some companies offer pre-packaged internships to which students can apply, the vast majority do not. We recommend starting by narrowing down your focus. Universities really like to see that students are experts in a niche. So, start off by clarifying yours. Are you really well-versed in Middle Eastern politics? Can you name the three most influential political theorists in history? Perhaps you know more about congressional campaigns than anyone around. Once you have honed in on your superpower, plan accordingly. Identify the top organizations, political institutions, or companies in that specific field and do your research. If they don’t offer a standardized internship, find out who the leaders in the organization are, reach out, and pitch your own. While it’s not explicitly political, the United Nations offers a number of internships for high school students interested in learning about how intragovernmental affairs work.
Some people forget that politics is scientific, too. (Hence the major, “political science). Summer is a great time to become a research assistant. We have helped a number of our students connect with the top researchers in their fields. Some of our kids have even gotten published. Start off by identifying your niche (anything from polling data to voting behavior) and identifying the top professors and researchers in that area. Reach out and offer yourself up as a summer assistant.
Need help securing a prestigious internship for the summer? Call us. Our students have landed at some of the nation’s top organizations.