Campaign Trailing, Originals

Making a Lasting First Impression

Previously on Campaign Trailing: I discussed how I became interested in politics, and what led up to my introduction to Jessa Lewis, the candidate I’m working with.

First, thanks for your patience, all. Life came up made this post a few days later than expected. Where were we? Oh yes, I was just about to tell you about my first meeting with Jessa.

After our initial phone call, I actually wasn’t all that confident that I made a great impression. For the record, like ten different things were happening in my household while I was trying to talk, and I proooooobably should have let it go to voicemail. Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? Still, the call went well enough that she was willing to meet with me, so no complaints here. 

For me, the biggest takeaway from that call was that, despite the fact that I was super-excited and intrigued, the learning curve for me working on my first campaign was going to be massive. So massive that it was my number one biggest concern about working with Jessa. This fact, plus my hope to be able to work while still caring for my youngest kiddo, I knew, could make me a tricky hire for her. 

So, I laid it all out. In a geeky Google doc, I made an outline of my strengths and weaknesses as they might help Jessa and her campaign, and I noted that my family commitments could complicate things a bit (I think my exact words were, “How does Jessa feel about babies?”). I sent it to her the morning after we talked. I know, it goes against the majority of hiring advice that I see circulated–that I even circulated myself in some of my former jobs– and it’s the only time I’ve ever done something so bold during a potential hiring process. But given how closely campaign staffers work with their candidate, I saw no reason to hide any of this information. Pretending to be something I wasn’t, or that my availability was more than it actually was, may have made me an easier pick, but would have likely exploded in my face before too long…at least, that was my logic. 

(my workspace)

And, lo and behold, she did not run screaming in the other direction after I sent that doc. We actually kept our plans to talk in person. 

A few days later, we met for the first time at a coffee shop called The Mason Jar, in Cheney, Washington, a few blocks from Eastern Washington University. It was super snowy that morning, so the snazzy outfit I wanted to wear was a no-go, and I ended up going with a simple dress with lace-up snow boots (yes,  snow boots). The weather also made it tough for me to arrive early, squashing my dreams of being seated at a table looking busy and productive upon her arrival. She beat me to the coffee shop and had already staked out a corner for us when I got there. 

I don’t know what Jessa would say about our first meeting, but I liked her a lot right away. In the first few minutes, I remember thinking, “Oh, good, I could totally work with her.” We talked for nearly two hours, and she was very open from the get-go about her views, her background, her plans for the campaign, and how she thought someone like me (ie, someone with no political experience, but professional experience from other fields) could help. She was even open to having me come on part-time to accommodate my parenting; it was her idea, in fact. I left that first meeting feeling excited and optimistic about potentially working with her. 

A couple days later, we talked again for two hours, this time over the phone. This time, I actually took the call in my home office while wearing my baby on my chest and pacing around the room (hence that header photo). During that call, I asked all the questions I’d thought of since we’d talked in person, and I also zeroed in on a few issues that matter to me (guns, women’s rights, and reproductive rights in particular) so I could be comfortable going all-in to support her.

By the time we wrapped up that call, I told her that I would work for her campaign (*throws confetti*)

For those keeping track at home, you may have noticed that the entire process included: a resume submission, two screening calls, a meeting with the candidate, and a follow-up call with the candidate. I can’t speculate on how representative that is for all campaign hiring, but it was a fairly straightforward and low-key process from my side of things (except for the few days when I thought I was being ghosted, but turns out Jessa was just busy). Next up, we’ll discuss what happened in the week leading up to the announcement of her candidacy.