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“I jumped at the chance”

Nikki, Summer Organizer
Nikki, 2009 summer organizer, Illinois.

A new generation of summer organizers will learn the ropes this year, working in communities across the country to lay the groundwork for the 2012 elections. We’re looking for hard-working, enthusiastic people to apply—people like Nikki who used her summer vacation from her job as a teacher to take part in the program in 2009 and hasn’t looked back since.

I was not your typical summer organizer. I was not in college, or right out of college. It was the summer of 2009, and at the time, I had been a middle school English/Social Studies teacher for four years, and I loved it. During my time as a teacher, I stayed up to date with political news and information, particularly the OFA website and emails.

That summer, I decided that I needed to do something to feed my love for politics. When I received the email about the Summer Organizer Program, I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted because I only had a little campaign experience, so I was thrilled when they offered me the chance to take part.

I learned so much that summer. The Illinois office was really just starting to get up and running at that time, so I got to watch that process unfold.

Our major legislative focus was health reform: We collected signatures, organized canvasses, made phone calls—you name it, we did it. We had one-on-ones, identified potential community organizers, and helped run trainings. I even had the opportunity to staff a presidential event!

Even though it was summertime and my other friends were enjoying their time off, I looked forward to getting up and going to work every day. The staff was both encouraging and inspiring. I knew that I would be able to take what I was learning and apply it to my own work in the classroom.

After the summer ended, I stayed in contact with the staff and kept up to date on what was going on. I will never forget the day the Affordable Care Act passed. It was a feeling like no other—I had played a part in helping millions of people, and the Summer Organizer Program gave me the chance to do so.

The following summer, a job opened up in the Illinois office, and I received a phone call asking me to come in for an interview. In the end, I left my teaching job, took a leap of faith, and became a regional field director. I owe all this to my experience as a summer organizer.

No matter your age, your major, your job, I can guarantee you that your summer as an organizer will be an unforgettable one. You will learn invaluable skills, meet fantastic people, and grow as an individual. I urge you to become a summer organizer—you’ll love it!”

Being a summer organizer changed Nikki’s life, it could change yours too—apply to be a summer organizer here.

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