by Julia Sant
Getting involved in a campaign was not something I would have seen myself doing as a high school senior. But, on November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. That, I can say, was something I NEVER saw coming. In the year that followed, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier at the current political climate. When my AP Government teacher assigned a project to the class called “Politics in Action,” I was so excited. For nearly one year, I was angry without a medium to channel that anger. Now was my chance to do something with those feelings instead of just sitting on them. To satisfy the volunteer hours required for the project, I participated in a phonebank at the Downers Grove Township Democratic Organization, where an organizer mentioned that there was an internship program with JB Pritzker’s campaign for governor. I submitted a resumè, interviewed, and got the internship.
That was in October, since then, I have made countless calls, knocked on more doors than a kid on Halloween, and have learned so much about being an informed voter. As an intern for JB Pritzker, my main job is making phone calls. I have spoken to people who love JB and I have spoken to people who are not too fond of him, but making these calls has taught me the importance of building a foundation for a campaign. The people who invest so much time and energy into an election are the people who are motivated to get things done and fight for what they see as right and important. It has been so much fun getting to know the people of Illinois and learning the process of getting someone elected.
Everyone in the office comes from different backgrounds with different levels of experience in politics. It is really cool to see a group of such different people can come together and do very similar things for one goal: to get the candidate elected. Coming into this, my only political experience came from watching Veep. Everyone swears, everyone jokes, but everyone also cares very much about the outcome of the primary election on March 20th.
Being able to have a direct impact on a political campaign is something that I can do regardless of the fact that I am barely an adult. This past year has been really hard for me to comprehend. As a student, I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do. This internship has allowed me to channel that anger and frustration into something productive that will benefit the citizens of Illinois. I have used volunteering as an opportunity to learn what others have to say and refine my political beliefs. By this I mean that I have gained insight as to which issues mean the most to me, how to gauge a candidate’s appreciation for that issue, and what I can do to promote my those beliefs.
I never considered a career in politics something that I would want to do, but being a part of this campaign has shown me that there are many ways to get involved in politics. Because of my internship, I know that I want to be a part of something that I am passionate about, politically or otherwise.
I do see myself working on campaigns like this in the future. This has been such a good experience for me as a citizen and as a voter. Getting to knock on doors and communicate directly with people in my community about issues that are important to me and that will directly affect them has taught me so much about the importance of informed voting. I will continue to do this work because it means that I can do my part in “walking the walk” for what I believe in.