How can I make connections in the field of politics and government as a high school student?
I would start with the following:
- Join an extracurricular group at school that supports the different elements of politics like public speaking, debate team, etc and possibly run for your school government to get an idea of what it is like to be a politician even if it is on your school level!
- There are many youth groups that are specific to politics and specific political parties. Please look at the links below for examples!
Young Democratic Party Group: https://www.yda.org/
Young National Republican Group: http://yrnf.gop/
- Get involved in local campaigns that are taking place and volunteer to be a part of the campaign process! Campaigns are run similar to a company. They essentially have a Sales team, Marketing, PR, Content and Brand Creation, etc. If there is a specific job that interests you- apply! This could be on the City Mayor level, Governor level or even a smaller district role. Anything counts and gives you valuable experience.
- Get involved in Social Media groups that are politically focused- next year will be a great year for you to get involved with the Presidential Elections coming up! Network, Network, Network!
- Reach out to a local representative and ask if you can intern for them, even if it is part time or after school/on the weekends! They can help introduce you to the right people, give you the best experience and be an amazing mentor to you.
One thing I have learned, over many years, is that there are many influential people working behind the scenes to make an elected official "successful." Don't overlook these people! As a HS student, you can get involved in campaigns, perhaps going door to door handing out literature, or working the polls on election day, putting up signs, etc. You can go to city council meetings. You can get involved in party politics. Even if you are not old enough to vote, an extra hand is always welcome!
You can get active in student government, or other student or civic organizations. You can join a "cause," such as climate change or gun violence, or, start your own cause! You can reach out to the offices of elected officials for information, request pamphlets you can distribute at your school on Earth Day, for example. Be sure to write a nice thank you note afterwards, directed to the person who helped you as well as to the elected official. Don't be a nuisance, but, at the same time, make contact often enough that they get to know you. Ask them what you can do to help with a cause or re-election campaign. If you are having an event, see if you can invite the elected official to speak. You will need to plan this far in advance, in most cases.
Use social media. Get on their FB page, follow them on twitter, etc. Post comments as appropriate, but don't over-do it. Write professionally, don't use jargon. Remember that anything you post now will haunt you for the rest of your life, so be careful about anything that might be offensive or extremist. If they are appearing somewhere, go! Try to meet them afterwards. Have something intelligent to say or ask. (not always easy to do, but, you want to make a good impression!) But, don't put them on the spot in front of someone else!
Treat office staff like royalty! They are the gate-keeper standing between you and the official. Do not underestimate their importance. I know I already said that, but, it is worth repeating.
Hope this helps!