You’ve been on the student council since second grade. Your campaign posters are made by professionals. When you walk down the halls of your school, everyone knows your name. Not only are you president of your class, but the president of every single club you’re in. You’re a natural politician.
Or maybe not? Maybe you prefer to be a lieutenant, a second-in-command, silently moving the chess pieces by offering advice and making things happen behind the scenes.
Then again, maybe you’re just interested in politics as a field related to entrepreneurship.
Whichever of these descriptions applies to you, we have 10 ways you can get involved in a political career now.
Politicians and entrepreneurs have a lot in common: ambition, drive, energy, leadership, and self-confidence. If you’re a young entrepreneur wondering whether politics is the right field for you, read on for 5 ways to get involved before you’re even old enough to run for President of the United States.
1. PHONE BANK AND CANVASS
Presidential elections happen only every four years. But savvy young entrepreneurs like you understand that we have elections every year: for governors, senators, representatives, state legislators, mayors, city council, and other non-White House government positions.
Your local government is a fantastic place to get started in politics. Local elections usually aren’t as big and flashy as national ones, so every volunteer is appreciated. It’s also a lot easier to get to know a local candidate, who may wind up being a great reference on your college application.
Find your candidate’s HQ or web page. Sign up for a shift or two phone banking for your favorite candidate – there’s usually no minimum age for that type of help. If it’s safe enough and your parents are ok with it, canvass your neighborhood and talk to residents. Pass out yard signs. There’s no job too small when it comes to running a campaign!
There are plenty of ways high school entrepreneurs can intern at even the highest levels of government. Not only will you learn how various jobs in government and politics work on a day-to-day basis, but you’ll make important networking connections and possibly set yourself up for a future career.
Here’s a small list of ways to grab a political internship while still in high school:
- Local government. This is great for students with a specific interest: say, working at your local parks and recreation department for those of you who want to work with kids someday. Go to your city or town’s website, look for your department of interest, and contact them for more information on what you can do.
- Senate page program. Nothing says you’re serious about politics like diving in headfirst with the big kids! The Senate page program is open to high school juniors and seniors at least 16 years old. Contact your local senator’s office to find out more.
- Political parties. The two major political parties in the U.S. have offices and representatives in all 50 states. No matter where you are or what you want to do, they always need volunteers. Contact the Democratic National Committee here and the Republican National Committee here. Let them know you don’t just want to phone bank or canvass – you want to intern in an office for a candidate so you can learn the ropes of running a campaign.
3. SPEND YOUR SUMMER IMMERSED IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
A political science major doesn’t have to start when you get to college. We know you’re working hard to earn college credits in high school by taking A.P. classes. You can also do a political science summer program.
- The National Student Leadership Conference has a Washington, D.C.-based 9-day program on Political Action and Public Policy for high school students from all over the country.
- American University’s Women & Politics Institute’s Summer Session College Program for High School Students includes college credits, field trips, and intensive training for young women interested in politics.
- Junior Statesmen of America institutes feature several programs around the country open to high school students.
4. RUN FOR SCHOOL OFFICE
There’s no better way to learn the ins and outs of running a campaign like school politics. Running for office amongst your classmates means developing the set of skills needed for your future career in politics and government. Leaders at all levels of government, from high school student councils to the federal government, have to be charismatic, quick-witted, and good listeners. As we said before, many of the qualities that go into making a successful entrepreneur are the same qualities that make a successful politician.
Although it may not seem like it, government work is about more than getting elected. The real work begins once you’re in office. And working on your school’s student council will help you learn how to negotiate, compromise, listen, solve problems, and make your voice heard.
5. JOIN A YOUTH ORGANIZATION
Young entrepreneurs make the BEST entrepreneurs…and the best future world leaders! Your school and town likely have at least a few civic-minded organizations you can join. From model UNs to environmental clubs, you shouldn’t have to look far to find ways to get involved and take action. By getting involved, you are showing up for the issues that are most important to you. From there you can navigate your way into leadership roles that will guide you into the world of politics and government.
If that’s not enough, the Alliance for Youth Action has chapters and partners across America.
The path to a powerful government job, elite political advisor, or campaign powerhouse isn’t necessarily a straightforward one. Just as smart young entrepreneurs know that the road to business success may have detours and dead ends, so, too, does the road to political achievement.
With the world at your fingertips and nothing but a bright future ahead, we’re counting on people like you to go out there and build a better world for everyone!
The Kantner Foundation awards college scholarships to young entrepreneurs in Florida. Click here to learn more and apply.