Chapter 1 – Professional Interactions
- Always know who you are aligning yourself with. I know it seems super fun to go and meet every elected official ever to be sworn in, but there will come a time when you have to decide the type of candidate/elected official you want to give your time to and possibly be associated with. Don't take that internship if you have reservations; if the person has a shady reputation, it's probably for a good reason.
- Everyone talks and you WILL be caught. I know that the open bar was calling your name; it beckons to all with its siren song of free booze. Drink if you want, but if you become belligerent, people will talk about it. If you decide to stay over at someone's house, people will know about it. If you are secret lovers with the secretary of the next college over, people will gossip about it. Have fun, but be professional and know who your company is.
- Never show your age and it's associated maturity level. If you want to have a future in politics and are trying to get started with CR, don't make it obvious on a 24/7 basis that you are a "just a college kid." People will pay attention to the way you behave and people will discuss your behavior when the next opportunity comes along and they are looking for volunteers.
Chapter 2 – Know Your Place
- I know you interned that one time for that one office for 2 weeks, but that doesn't mean you are an experienced professional. One of the greatest things about CR are the opportunities you come across. If you got chosen to do a leadership program in DC one summer, that is super cool! But just know when you come back, you are still a college kid with mediocre grades and residual acne from your awkward high school years. Make the most of your experiences, but don't assume a semester long internship means you are qualified to consult a primary race.
- There is a time for fun and a time for sitting down and shutting up. It's hard to be serious all the time and, frankly, nobody wants to be. We want to cut up and have a good time, but when you are called in to accomplish a task, get the task done. It doesn't matter if it is phone calls, door to door canvassing, or picking up yard signs from a right-of-way, enjoy the time you work but don't forget to actually do your work.
Chapter 3 – Leadership/Chapter Operations
- Know if you are in it for a resume builder or because you are passionate. If you want a resume builder, pay dues and/or show up to a couple meetings each semester, that's cool. No one will be angry. But if you truly care about politics, everyone is going to be able to tell. Putting it on your resume is fine and dandy, but if you aren't going to be honest with yourself about your involvement, your peers will be honest about it. When their boss asks if you, as a fellow CR, should be considered for a position, they aren't going to continue your allusions of grandeur. Put a little effort in to get something back out.
- You are not a taxpayer-funded elected official. So please, do not act like one. It's okay to still be bitter about not winning the 7th grade class president position (and yes, I'm sure your lunch period speech and construction paper posters truly were more impressive than your opponent's) but you have to understand that CR is an organization in a college setting. You aren't the President, you aren't a Congressman, and you aren't even a county commissioner - you are grunt labor for candidates during election season. Make the most of it or go join the Beta Club.
- With great power comes great responsibility. When you do take a leadership position, do your job. Ignoring emails, avoiding any actual work, and blowing off community involvement makes you look lazy/useless and reflects negatively on your entire school, not just you. If you want a leadership position, be a leader, not lazy.
- When you make a commitment, keep it. Fool a campaign organizer once, shame on you. Fool them twice, don't even bother applying for internships or paid positions with anyone they know. Your bridge is burnt.
- Recruitment of the Greeks. I know they throw the most awesome parties and that the are the epitome of TFM lifestyle, but 9 times out of 10 they make your chapter meetings look super packed out and your volunteer sign-up sheets are still barren. Actively recruit all the time and don't micro-target a certain population of the campus. You wouldn't dig for buried treasure in the same sand box over and over again, would you?
Chapter 4 – Closing Remarks
- Make friends OUTSIDE of politics. During a particularly long primary or presidential season, you will come to hate your peers because you spend so much time together. Make sure you have other friends to call up who don't want to talk about pre-filed legislation or youtube old presidential debates.
- Be involved. There is more to politics than your bimonthly CR meetings. Join your county party, attend a YR function, help out at a fundraiser - just do something besides spending time with the executive board of your chapter. They aren't the ones that work in politics, they are just the ones that work FOR politics. A little networking never hurt nobody. And I'll repeat for emphasis... JOIN YOUR COUNTY PARTY.
- Take Breaks. Yes, I just said to be involved, but that doesn't mean to burn yourself out. Trust me, I've been there, and the burn-outs suck and lead to existential crises/changing your major/hating politics for a while. Stay diligent, but stay sane.
- Don't be THAT guy.General advice, really, but if you start off all your conversations discussing how you plan to be the President in 2036, you won't be taken seriously. Just don't do it.
With (tough) love,