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June 5, 2014

Learning in a Political World

Chris Cavey

Perhaps the best part of working in a political campaign is sharing your knowledge, skills and experience with others. Just like every other aspect of life, it is a blessing to learn something new and a joy to see the eyes of others opened to new experiences.


I have placed 10 interns, to date, with the Hogan for Governor Campaign.


In January, a host of political science departments was contacted offering students opportunities at internships with Mr. Hogan’s campaign. Some of these young men and women were interviewed in person and others via phone. Although the number of applicants was smaller than expected, the depth of those wishing unpaid internships was surprising.


These 10 aspiring politicos are from different parts of Maryland, different ethnicity, different fields of study and different colleges. Two are in law school and two just received their Bachelor degrees. However, they all share the wide-eyed desire to learn the art of political campaigns at the grunt level.


I love to share and to have fun – it makes work interesting and long campaign days tolerable. I am thrilled when I see someone suddenly take self-motivated initiative and take the lead on a research project, or even with physically demanding projects such as building commercial signs.


This week I found out by accident that one of the law students who worked a few days with two Hispanic volunteers was fluent in Spanish. The sign crew did marvelously well, worked productively and formed a new friendship. Who knew? On the other hand, who would have guessed when I interviewed this person in a nice suit that he was great with construction and was bilingual?


Typically, the tasks of interns run the range from research to sign construction to hours of phone calls. I have watched our crew dig into projects wondering why and in a short time have them explain to you not only why but come up with better ideas. I have watched knowledge bloom.


There are no college courses or textbooks that can explain the inner workings or day-to-day of a full-blown campaign. It is really something you have to experience firsthand and learn from others by watching closely. It is an experience and, done correctly, a statewide campaign is a team effort.


Our intern team has learned in just a few short weeks to help each other. I smile every time I hear they are sharing the load – or learning from each other. It's great to see them concerned about finishing a project or working against another campaign deadline – and are self-motivated.


There is no internal competition. Each is settling into a niche of expertise, which the others realize. It is a very cool experience to teach the trade of politics and observe those who are learning a skill which is not found in a college classroom.


In the past few months my faith in our political future has been renewed. There are a lot of students who want to learn, volunteer and work hard. Like each generation, some college students want to change the world.


However, I know 10 who someday will make a difference – and, hopefully, when I see that happen I can sit back and smile knowing I had a little influence.


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