By Christopher Allen – Communications Director
On a particularly muggy day here in the nation’s capital, a diverse group of students and young professionals braved the heat and humidity to attend the “How to Get a Job in Government Relations” Liberty and Access lab. As a reward for their efforts, they received valuable insight into the world of lobbying delivered by a panel of speakers representing a wide range of professional experience.
Panel members at our July 14 lab were Brooke Oberwetter, Public Policy and Govt. Relations, Facebook; Michael A. Brown, Public Policy and Strategic Alliances, Verizon; Christopher T. Cushing, Federal Strategies Team, Nelson Mullins; and Jona Van Duen, Koch Companies Public Sector.
Achieving success in a government relations career requires the practitioner to be situationally adaptive and intellectually flexible as they perform whatever actions are needed to advance their employer’s interests. While an organization’s policy focus generally places it on one half of the political spectrum or the other, government relations professionals should be prepared to create strategic partnerships across the aisle. Lobbyists must sometimes advocate for viewpoints they do not personally espouse; this is simply part of the jobThe speakers emphasized that candidates for government relations positions need strong communication and critical thinking skills, with the need for strong writing skills garnering particular attention. They offered advice both general and specific; Brooke Oberwetter, for example, exhorted the participants to “keep in mind who your audience is” for any type of writing, as well as to “learn the press release format and practice the heck out of it.”
Presenters also lectured participants on the importance of fully understanding the mission of the organization for whom they work or intern and then seeking out ways – beyond their assigned duties – they can help further that mission.
Liberty and Access For All extends special thanks to PPIA Program and Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College for co-sponsoring this lab.