This year, three young professionals were awarded the opportunity to attend the 2019 Pollie Awards & Conference. These three students showed a developed career interest in political consulting and public affairs, and were selected from a large nominee pool due to their impressive applications and commitment to learning about the industry. One of the Foundation Scholars, Molly Ringel, Master’s student at George Washington University, sat down with AAPC to share her thoughts about her unique experience at the AAPC event in April!
AAPC: What was one thing you learned at the Conference?
Molly: If there is one main takeaway that I learned at this year’s conference, it was most definitely that it takes a “village” to win a campaign. There is no magical tactic or single role that leads a team to victory. It takes coordinated efforts, multi-faceted approaches, and consistent messaging to succeed.
AAPC: How would you describe the atmosphere at the 2019 Pollie Awards & Conference?
Molly: As a “first timer” this year at the 2019 Pollie Awards & Conference, I was amazed at the sense of comradery and community within AAPC. Conversations were sincere, attendees were inquisitive during sessions, and everyone seemed to come with a similar mission of acquiring new knowledge and building connections. Who wouldn’t want to talk politics all day, make new friends, and learn new targeting techniques – not to mention the beautiful Napa scenery and delicious wine!
AAPC: Who is someone you look up to in the industry?
Molly: Immediately a name comes to mind. Jim Green is one of my professors at GW’s Graduate School of Political Management, and I am currently taking his “Targeting and Voter Contact” class. He too was at the conference, attending with his team at Centro, and took time out of his day to introduce me around to his colleagues, some of the guests who had lectured in our classes, and people I had mentioned I wanted to meet. As an adjunct professor at GW, he takes time out of his busy career to educate the next class of political practitioners in applied politics, communication, and advocacy.
AAPC: How did you know you wanted to pursue a career in politics?
Molly: Back in my hometown of San Diego, I was one of the few high school students who volunteered her afternoons collecting petition signatures with campaign teams and making phone calls to donors. Like many of those before me, I moved to Washington, DC five years ago in the hopes of learning as much as possible about the many facets of our nation’s political arena.
AAPC: Who inspired you at the event?
You would need two newsletters if I listed everyone out!
AAPC: What was your favorite session to attend?
Molly: My favorite session was “The New Synergy: Direct Mail and Digital” with panelists Joe Lestingi, Nicole Hall, Seth Colton, Danielle Cendejas, and Jon Adams! I loved hearing about new ways to bridge mail and digital tactics, such as syncing them via unique bitly links (from Jon Adams), and how to take well-performing digital content and translate it over to mail – while keeping relevancy and on-message.
AAPC: Tell us about your networking strategy at the event.
Molly: To effectively network and make the most of each new connection, I took ten minutes each evening to jot down quick notes of the day’s conversations on the back of each business card I received. Everything from hometown, latest project, and children’s names – remembering the conversation made the interactions more meaningful. The next morning I would flip through the notes to jolt my memory of the previous day – ensuring I was prepped and ready-to-go for another busy day.
AAPC: Did you walk away with new professional connections? Expand on this.
Molly: I am thankful to have made many new professional connections at the conference, and to still be in contact with them in some form. They are not just “connections” but new friends and people I admire – so much more than a new business card in my rolodex or connection on LinkedIn. Lucky for me, I have a solid network of people to learn from and bounce ideas off of!
AAPC: Any advice for a young professional seeking to break into the political consulting field?
Molly: As a fellow young professional still seeking to break into the political consulting field – I can offer the advice that I live by:
Be honest, always give it your all, and find meaning and application in all that you do.