Get Off the Bench and On to the Playing Field: A Guide to Professional Activism
Get Off the Bench and On to the Playing Field: A Guide to Professional Activism
By Nicholas Goroff /

For an increasing number of young Americans, politics is seen as both a frustration and fascination. From the more simplistic, partisan electoral noise that crops up ever two years, to the deeper and more complex discussion of the issues, greater numbers are now beginning to shed the apathy which once defined the American electorate and are looking to get involved to help bring about the kind of change they believe is needed to secure a brighter and more equitable future.

Yet for many, the doors to becoming fully fledged activists often appear closed or hidden. Whether one simply can't find the time amid other pressing issues like paying off debt and making a living, or merely finds that the incoherent channels for activism get lost in the mix, the ability to take that first – or next – step into political activism is often difficult. However, given money’s role in our current political process, the opportunities for people looking to enter fields of activism, issue advocacy and the general craft of popular politics on a professional level have never been more plentiful.

And the starting point for those interested, in this case, is the Internet.

Whether you wish to reign in unaccountable corporate influence peddlers, protect the environment from polluters, defend women’s right to choose or aid the labor movement in its defense of worker rights and dignified wages, there are no shortage of opportunities to jump into the world of professional activism. Below are some handy resources, often used by professional field operatives and organizations for staffing and campaign needs, which can serve as an initial way to plug in and find out how you can contribute: its name, DemocraticGain is more than a party recruitment tool. With postings from left leaning and progressive PAC organizations and conventional progressive allies such as labor unions, pro-choice groups and environmental organizations, paid job postings can range from the most basic field canvasser position to higher end managerial posts. Additionally, the site is rich with educational resources to help one better understand the nature and language of professional activism as it works today, helping to prepare people for the specific careers they seek. From training programs teaching the art and science of labor organizing, to research and analytical work, is a nationwide staffing resource for people looking to join the labor movement as working professionals. Geared generally towards the philanthropic non-profit sector, focuses on helping individuals find both professional and volunteer opportunities with the aim of bettering communities worldwide.

JobsThatAreLeft: As a Google Group, “JobsThatAreLeft” requires a gmail or google plus account to access. Complete with nationwide job postings, joining the group also provides the user/applicant with daily email updates featuring sometimes upwards of 50 job opportunities a day, ranging from basic and entry level to regional and national managerial levels.

FieldWorks: A nationwide private consulting firm, FieldWorks is one of many “turn key” campaign consulting groups specializing in field operations ranging from basic canvass, petition and fundraising efforts to more dynamic field research and campaign operations. Though not as active in terms of regular available opportunities as some other outlets, FieldWorks is one of many progressive consulting firms that can help introduce aspiring professionals to the world of professional campaign operations and provide a variety of experiences to help them grow professionally.

For more local opportunities, a simple swing through Craigslist’s “NonProfit” section can often provide many entry level opportunities available in the areas of canvassing, phone bank staffing and non-profit/political efforts.

As with any profession, applicable skill sets and a willingness to work one’s way up in the non-profit sector are rather important. Before you lament your lack of a political science degree or masters degree in labor relations, take stock of the skills you already possess to help determine the best course of action.

Experience in sales, marketing, customer service – and essentially any profession in which one engages with the public – can all be brought to the table. It's often a mix of existing skills and your dedication to a cause that many hiring managers and field directors are seeking. Tailoring your approach to best suit your interests and strengths can make or break an application.

As part of this, knowledge and interest in the issues or causes you wish to work on are crucial – both in the seeking-out process and in the practice of professional activism. The question of why you wish to work for a given campaign or cause can be as equally pressing as how you intend to do it. To this end, when seeking a job as an organizer or staffer, be sure to look for an organization and/or a cause with which you’re already familiar, if only topically.

Whether you're seeking to begin a career as a professional politico or merely wishing to dip a toe in the water, the spectrum of professional activism is vast and the possibilities of work are many. Much of what constitutes professional activism today also falls under the moniker of what some call the nonprofit industrial-complex, which generations of professional activists have consciously and unconsciously helped to shape.

Activists still need to overcome their fear of money, which has kept many radicals marginalized politically. The knowledge, skills and experiences gained while working within existing activist structures can be quickly converted into more radical, private efforts. From canvassing work to directorships to the mastery of conventional fundraising, the purpose – and net effect – of the activist's tradecraft is ultimately learned, like most things, through the process doing it.

- See more at:

4.3 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 12,917 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 11,682 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 7,318 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 5,248 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 3,471 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 2,455 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 2,427 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,980 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 1,957 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 1,419 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,301 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Lessons in the Calais Jungle: Teaching Life Stories and Learning About Humanity
Aura Lounasmaa · 1,018 views today · I am part of a team of academics teaching a course to residents in the Calais Jungle, a camp for migrants and refugees outside the French city. Life Stories in the Jungle has...
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 787 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 782 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 683 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
My Cuba - An Intimate Look at the Pleasures and Struggles of 6 Different People's Cuba
150 min · 500 views today · Cuba - diverse, vibrant and complex - is undergoing immense change. But what does it mean to be Cuban in this time of change? Six people. Six films. From the comedy and ballet...
Eckhart Tolle: Your Facebook Ego, That's Not Who You Are
2 min · 418 views today · “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past: the "little me" and its story. This...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 405 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
The Untold History of Palestine & Israel
22 min · 357 views today · Previewing Abby Martin’s on-the-ground investigation in Palestine, The Empire Files looks at the long history of Zionist colonization, expansion and expulsion of Palestine’s...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 309 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Get Off the Bench and On to the Playing Field: A Guide to Professional Activism