Sean Spicer Tells You What It Takes to Get Into Politics
Sean Spicer’s most recent book, ‘The Briefing’, recently landed at my neighborhood Barnes and Noble. I stopped there this week to get a cup of coffee before a meeting. With a little time on my hands, I picked up the book and skimmed it.
I did not vote for President Trump, nor do I support most of his agenda, so I did not expect to read much that would catch my attention. However, I took out pen and paper while I read Chapter 2. There Spicer narrates how he entered political life in high school.
Spicer’s high school mentor at Portsmouth Abbey, a Rhode Island parochial school, was a teacher named J. Clifford Hobbins. Hobbins, who taught history, economics and foreign affairs, had numerous connections with former students in Washington and New York. He arranged for Spicer to intern in the Washington office of former US Senator George Mitchell, Democratic majority leader during the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, during the summer after his junior year.
While enrolled at Connecticut College, a moderately selective liberal arts college, Sean Spicer:
- Interned for a Republican state legislator;
- Volunteered to handle press and speeches for a Republican candidate for Congress in a campaign where his candidate narrowly lost to a Democratic incumbent by about 5,000 votes;
- Interned with the Federal Office of Personnel Management through the American University Semester in Washington DC; and,
- Interned for the late US Senator John Chaffee (R. Rhode Island)
Immediately after he graduated college, he:
- Made a connection through the father of one his sailing students that led to an offer to do opposition research part time for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which aides incumbents in their reelection and helps to get challengers elected;
- Worked part time as a “gofer” for the House Committee on Ways and Means; and,
- Was offered a full-time position, salary and benefits, with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works after eight months of temporary work
Why I am summarizing Sean Spicer’s resume on a college admissions site?
It gave a great explanation of what it takes to get into politics, and how easy it can be to make connections, if you do the work. It does not matter where you are going to college when you start, as long as you do the work.
Connecticut College is a very good liberal arts school—and I would agree with Spicer that the culture on campus leans liberal—but it is also test optional and offers more achievable admissions that its sports rivals in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Most colleges that you will visit, selective or not, will have alumni who are active in politics as well as faculty and staff who can help you connect. But you have to do grunt work first—copies, deliveries, low profile research and writing and data entry, among other tasks—just as Sean Spicer did. Campus government is also a great proving ground, especially at a larger school where issues are more challenging to resolve
While Sean Spicer was bitten by the political bug as a high school junior, his college resume is quite similar to those of many other people, Democrats, Republicans and others, who begin their political life in college with no prior connections at all. It does not take much effort to find someone on a college campus who can point students, Democrats, Republicans and non-partisan, in the right direction towards building a resume that can lead them to a life after college in politics at the local, state or national levels. It only takes desire and a set of views that you can defend to others.
I do not subscribe to the politics of this messenger. But he earned his opportunities to deliver his messages. It is not hard for others of varied viewpoints to do the same while they are still in high school, or soon after they begin college.
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