If you have always been interested in politics and want to affect policy, you must learn how to become a lobbyist. This career depends on the ability to build rapport with people and to use analytical skills to determine how bills will affect your client’s position on various issues. There are certain fields you can enter straight out of college, but lobbying, even though it doesn’t require a degree, is a position you typically achieve by climbing the ladder.
Educational Background Requirements
While a college degree is not required for many lobbying positions, a bachelor’s degree and a successful internship are often expected to obtain a secure job in the future. Your studies should demonstrate the ability to reason, as well as an understanding of how the law works. Debate, model legislature and other such extracurricular activities can improve your resume, as can volunteer work with nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. Some of the best majors for a lobbying career include law, political science, history, economics and other humanities that look at the facts and figures that affect today’s legal policies. Regardless of your college education, however, your self-led learning should include familiarity with politics. It may be that you are interested in a wide range of issues or you tend to focus strongly on just one. Whatever the case, without an interest in laws and regulations, you may not find lobbying to be a fulfilling career.
There are two basic styles of lobbying. The first entails working directly with legislatures in an attempt to convince people to create laws that work in a group’s favor. Lobbyists for the Nature Conservancy , for instance, helped representatives in Minnesota add an environmental clause to the state constitution. The other kind of lobbyist organizes groups of people to contact legislators. Grassroots organizations without the large donations of established charities can accomplish more solely by creating petitions and organizing demonstrations. It is much easier to fill the role of a volunteer organizer than of an official lobbyist for a charity group. Working with small groups or working on an individual project can pave the way to an internship in the future. Landing an intern position can be difficult without either education or experience. The contacts you will make while volunteering for an organization can be an important step in becoming a lobbyist.
An official position as a lobbyist for a business, industry or organization can be difficult to obtain. Most give preference to candidates who have relevant college courses or experience. Most internships aren’t paid, but they do offer invaluable experience necessary to become a lobbyist. You must apply for intern positions in the same manner through which you would apply for a traditional job. Lobbyist interns often spend their time in meetings or completing errands for the other employees working in an office. They take a lot of notes, as well as observe and handle minor responsibilities, such as responding to e-mails or managing social media posts. An internship working for a Congressional representative can be a major boost to your career. You will see firsthand how lawmakers operate, giving you a valuable look at the ways lobbyists make the biggest impact. Working in the Senate or House of Representatives can also be one way of obtaining high-quality professional contacts.
There were 12,400 people working as professional lobbyists in 2011. To become one of them, you need to combine experience, education and contacts. You can achieve these necessary elements by filling a variety of roles, either in paid or unpaid positions, and by always looking for new opportunities for advancement. If you truly want to know how to become a lobbyist, you must first join an organization or campaign in a lesser role, such as a public relations associate, and graduate to lobbyist as openings become available. The important thing is to make your interest in this role known and make an effort to help, regardless of whether it’s in your current job description. Eventually, with patience and persistence, you will join this influential and prosperous profession.