Our last day at Bootcamp, and it is our biggest day. We do some final preparations, hear a couple of more presentations from experts, and–the big item on the agenda–give our presentations.
We started immediately upon arrival by working with our groups. Teams were fighting leftover fatigue from the late session the day before. Groups were on the edge, because the deadline to turn in presentations seemed to draw nearer a lot sooner than the students would have liked. Our job was to present before the “Texas Campaign Commission,” a judging panel composed of experts from all aspects of campaigning. Knowing that you are going to put your product before the eyes of experts is a sobering prospect, but it also pushed us to go over things as many times as it took to make it right.
This did not mean, however, that we could just zone out and wait for presentation time. We still had presentations by experts to attend! One such presentation was by Barbara Johnson, the Career Advisor for Moody College, who captured our attention with her lesson on “tailoring your resume.” While much of the material consisted of things we knew, she did provide us with helpful information. Several things stood out:
- Once you arrive at college, she recommends omitting your high-school work; Our advisor, Professor Mike Yawn, suggested that that was a good goal, but that many students, depending on the quality of their high-school work, could allow it to carry over for a year into college;
- Tailor each resume to the job for which you are applying. Identify the 3-4 skills most needed in the job description and emphasize those in your resume;
- In some cases, organizational work can be used under “experience.” That is, experience does not have to be relegated to just employment opportunities.
Our session on campaign law and civics was just as rewarding. Campaigning doesn’t fit into a lot of types of business practices, but there are still rules and regulations. Compliance is not only the right thing to do, but it helps prevent the loss of votes because suspicion of fraud will hamper your campaign. Susan Nold and Ross Peavey lectured us about certain laws and having good ethical leadership in the political world. Mr. Peavey advised candidates to know the law or hire someone who did. He gave us examples of laws that could slip through the cracks, and end up damaging your name as a candidate. While we ate our lunch Ms. Susan Nold, Director of The Annette Strauss Institute, gave us ethical scenarios that were created by the speakers.
She added that these scenarios were real experiences the speakers had encountered in certain political jobs. Her biggest message was that if it feels wrong, and someone is asking you not to tell anyone, the best decision is to resign. It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say. The best part was listening to people’s opinions and their ideas about how to go about solving the ethical dilemmas.
As my adrenaline started flowing, Taylor Foody prompted us to begin. The time had come to actually present in front of professionals in the campaign field. The nerves kicked in, but all the preparation and hard work led us to this point!
We presented information about our campaign, with each student discussing a different topic: budgeting for a campaign, recruiting and keeping volunteers, a fundraising plan, and a communication plan.
There were a couple bumps in the road. For example, we had saved all of our demographic numbers pertaining to votes on google docs, but they were apparently not saved correctly.
Thus when it was Brian’s turn to speak, no numbers came up!
Fortunately, he knew the numbers, and was able to relay the information orally. Afterward, he told us that he “crying in the back of my head.”
Following the presentation, the judges gave us feedback and complimented the groups on our hard work. They helped us improve our skills and keep a realistic approach on campaigning. Thank you to Matt Glazer, Luke Marchant, Cliff Walker, Taylor Holden, and Taylor Foody for helping us build our campaign skill set and encouraging us to keep advancing in our careers.
The toughest, restless work of this weekend had been finished. We all gathered for one last time to listen to closing remarks provided by Taylor Holden and Cliff Walker on how to improve on our skills to ultimately pursue a career based on what we had learned throughout the bootcamp. Furthermore, they shared their experience of how they began their careers and, as Mr. Walker noted, we should not consider “a job too small or too big.”
Our final activity of the day was the award presentations. Taylor Foody, the Coordinator for the New Politics Forum Boot Camp, was the presenter. And, this being her first time to oversee the Boot Camp, she was as excited as all of us.
As it turned out, Isabela’s team was recognized for their “Communication Strategy,” and Brian’s team was recognized for their “Get out the Vote” strategy.
With two of the three SHSU students taking home hardware (or, paper certificates), we were pretty happy. But apart from being recognized, we were more happy just to learn from the process and meet new people.
After thanking Taylor Foody for her dedicated efforts , we headed over to The Clay Pit. The Indian cuisine restaurant provided a comfortable venue to relax and dine on new, eccentric dishes. These included a flavorful goat saag and lamb roganjosh complemented by comforting piquant jalapeño naan and ending with a sweet Gulab Jamun (deep fried pastries soaked in syrup) and Gajjar Halwa (a spiced carrot puree with vanilla ice cream).
With a very satisfying dinner we boasted with an air of accomplishment for finishing the NPF campaign bootcamp.