We recently caught up with Becca Siegel, a 2008 summer fellow who is now one of our best organizers in the state. Interested in working for the campaign? Apply today to be a summer fellow.
When/Where were you a fellow?
I was a fellow in Colorado Springs in the Summers of 2008 and 2009.
Why did you apply to be a fellow?
In 2008, I was a wandering, aimless high school senior. I was too young to vote and and had never been too concerned with politics. When I walked into the Obama campaign office, I found a place where I felt I could really make a difference in the future of my country - a feeling I had never felt before. I saw the apathy of my generation, and I saw how the Obama campaign was changing that - in myself and in so many of my peers. I didn't know anything about organizing, but I knew I would be living in the United States for 40 or 60 more years, and I knew I wanted to live in a place where people like me could have some influence on the government. I applied to be an organizer fellow because I knew Barack Obama was the man for the job, and even if I could not vote, I wanted to prove that my voice and voices of others like me had a place at the table.
What did you learn as a Fellow?
Each day as a Summer Organizer brought new opportunities and challenges: a meeting with a local activist followed by voter registration at an outdoor concert; a conference call to share best practices with other organizers from around the country followed by volunteering at a community health clinic; a morning canvass in support of a senatorial candidate followed by a rally or an organizational meeting. Working as a summer organizer taught me a diverse set of skills in a fast paced environment.
I've tried to use some of those skills in ways one would expect – I helped coordinate voter registration on my campus and in surrounding areas, organized workshops for young leaders, and arranged policy events – but also in ways I never could have imagined. I learned how to work with people of completely different backgrounds than my own, I learned how to focus individual tasks but always keep the big picture in mind. Most importantly, though, I learned that with a lot of hard work, collaboration, creativity and passion, we could accomplish nearly any task, no matter how impossible it seemed at first.
What would you say to someone on the fence about applying to become a Fellow?
There is really no better way to make a difference. In 2010, our senate candidate won his race by the equivalent of one vote per precinct. That vote was a result of an organization I had helped create. In what other job will you have the opportunity to so directly influence the outcome of an election? And this summer is particularly special, because in twenty or forty or sixty years we will all be able to look back and say that we were there, that we were the ones who made it happen.
What was the best part about being a Fellow?
I remember talking with a friend from school who had scored some kind of "high level" internship one summer. While he was sweating away his summers in a faceless office building, dreading each day that he had to make coffee and file papers, I was on the ground. I was working with the most talented organizers and volunteers I know - people who I know I will be friends with for many years to come (I can barely count how many co-workers' weddings I have attended since 2008). We bonded over long hours doing the work that we actually cared about, over creative best practices and supporter housing and data entry and canvassing stories and accomplishing things together that we could never accomplish alone.