Photograph by Arran Hashim

Career Center hosts panel with LC alumni in politics

By Charlotte Powers

The Career Center organized a post-election alumni panel where LC students, professors and alumni discussed midterm election results on Thursday, November 15. Students had the opportunity to ask alumni who work in politics how they became involved in election campaigns and what campaign strategies they find effective.

When asked about how they received their campaign positions, the alumni shared the different opportunities they took in college to launch their careers. Sam Ozer-Stanton ’17, a field organizer for Sen. Jon Tester’s campaign in Montana, and Zoe Klingman ‘15, a campaign manager for Oregon Rep. Carla Piluso, reflected on the internships they had during their time at LC.

“I interned for Sen. Wyden and at an opinion polling firm in college,” Ozer- Stanton said.  “This firm had roots in Montana and had connections with Sen. Tester.” “I worked two summers in college for Fund for the Public Interest,” Klingman said. “It was a great experience going door to door and getting a feel for what fundraising is like. Right out of college, I worked at a public opinion database in Portland.”

Arran Hashim ’20 asked the alumni panel how they campaigned in districts where the region had a dominant political ideology. Nicole Demchesin ‘18 took a semester off to be a field organizer for Jessica Morse’s campaign in California’s 4th Congressional District.. Nicole revealed the strategies behind campaigning for a democratic candidate in a predominantly conservative district.

“Our district has a really high voter registration, but only 29 percent vote Democrat,” Demchesin said. “Wildfires, healthcare, conservation, education, and creating jobs were talking points that helped us reach across the aisle in a very red district.Focusing on local issues rather than national issues was the way to get political backing for the campaign.”

Charlotte French ‘21 posed a question regarding the strategies their campaigns used to attract the youth vote. Ozer-Stanton replied saying that the youth in Montana were inspired by national issues.

“The youth vote was already pretty energized in response to Trump,” Ozer-Stanton said. “NextGen spent 50 million dollars to activate the youth vote across the country and they had a presence in Montana. We did “dorm storm” where we went through the dorms at the University of Montana and knocked on all the doors. We had a huge social media presence on campus.”

Working alongside the Career Center, Ellen Seljan, an associate professor of Political Science, felt that LC students should learn from alumni and witness the opportunities that are available post-graduation.

“I was excited about what alumni were doing,” Seljan said. “It’s important to know that we have alumni working in all levels of government, in both parties. I thought I’d bring them in to share their experiences with the students.”

French expressed her interest in campaign work and how this event instilled her confidence to pursue it.

“I think it gave me resources and different avenues to explore,” French said. It’s great to have more of a roadmap. This event gave me a lot of confidence that there is a lot of work out there for political science majors and people interested in politics.”

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