NDTC Staff Academy FAQ

You have questions. We have answers.

Staff Academy FAQ2019-10-11T13:19:40-05:00

If you have a question that is not covered here, please email us at [email protected]. We strive to respond to all emails within two business days.

The NDTC Staff Academy is a program designed to recruit, train, and connect new staff to paid career opportunities in Democratic politics across the country. When inviting applicants to join our program, we prioritize leaders who are women, people of color, and trans/transgender and non-binary people. These communities drive the Democratic party but are historically underrepresented on Democratic campaigns relative to their vote share. We want to ensure we, as a party, are representative of our voters.

Any Democrat fully committed to pursuing a paid career in Democratic politics on 2020 campaigns.

NDTC’s Staff Academy was created to address the critical shortage of qualified campaign staff in Democratic politics. We believe this staff shortage is, in part, because campaign jobs are not open to everyone. Often jobs are only shared with those who already have an “in” with people involved with politics.

Additionally, many people who would make great campaign staffers — especially women, people of color, and trans/transgender and non-binary people — are often pigeon-holed into field organizer positions. This prevents them from getting the entry-level experience needed to serve in other capacities, and non-field leadership positions.

All applications must be received by 11:59 pm EST on November 17th, 2019.

All participants must be 18 years old by February 1, 2020.

The program is completely free for trainees.

NDTC also pays for travel to and from Washington, D.C for the in-person training. This includes lodging at the event and meals during the in-person training.

The only expenses a cohort member will be responsible for during the program are: 

  • Travel to and from the airport for your flight or parking at the airport, if you choose to do that. 
  • Meals while traveling. 
  • Additional personal purchases, not required by the program. 

If you have additional accessibility needs for travel, NDTC will reasonably accommodate these.

During the online training part of our program from January 13 to March 26, 2020, you must be able to spend at least 10 hours each week to complete courses, weekly webinars, core skills assessments, and homework. To complete the online training, you must have access to a computer with consistent internet access and video conferencing capabilities (speakers, a microphone, and a camera). If this is a significant barrier, please reach us at [email protected] to discuss options.

You also must be able to attend weekly webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at 7pm CT/8 pm ET. Your exact schedule will be determined by the skills track you choose.

You must attend the entire duration of the live training in DC from March 27 to March 30, 2020. Cohort members will be traveling on March 26 to arrive ahead of the training, and will most likely be traveling on March 30 to leave the training.

You must also be willing and able to relocate to begin a full-time position on a Democratic campaign as early as April 2020. The goal of this program is to develop leaders who want to work on Democratic campaigns. NDTC will support program graduates in finding campaign jobs by facilitating introductions and interviews with our partners. Most often, people will relocate temporarily to work on a campaign. It is possible, but unlikely, that you will find a campaign job in your own community.

Decisions will be sent to applicants by December 20th 2019.

No. We are committed to a rigorous learning environment and setting you up to succeed in a campaign career. If you are not able to complete all program requirements or you do not successfully complete core skills assessments, you will not be able to graduate from the program.

Traditional political experience is not required. While evaluating applicants, we look broadly at political experience to include paid or unpaid campaign work, community organizing work, and advocacy work. We encourage any person to apply who is passionate about Democratic politics and committed to learning how to run a strategic campaign.

Depending on the area of concentration you choose to pursue, here are some of the basic skills you can expect to learn in each track:


  • Writing and sending emails using NGP 8
  • Creating effective, targeted social media content and posts
  • Developing a digital content calendar
  • Building a campaign website
  • Writing a digital plan
  • Writing in the candidate’s voice
  • Creating effective calls to action
  • Moving people up a ladder of engagement


  • Creating call sheets, including researching donors and identifying new prospective donors
  • Making hard donation asks
  • Following campaign finance laws
  • Tracking pledges and donations, following up with and thanking donors
  • Throwing a fundraising event
  • Using spreadsheets and NGP donor tracking software


  • How to create and share a campaign message
  • Distribution channels to share and promote your message 
  • How to tell an effective story
  • Working with the media
  • How to communicate effectively with voters and supporters

Management and Leadership (Completed by all tracks)

  • Managing volunteers, vendors, and teams 
  • Creating an inclusive team culture through an understanding of identity, oppression, and privilege
  • How to manage your time and priorities effectively to accomplish your goals and avoid burnout 
  • Job search preparedness through resume workshops, mock interviews, and professional networking guidance

Create one! It doesn’t have to be perfect. If accepted, we’ll help you improve your resume. But, you do need to create one in order to apply. Resumes should not be longer than 1-2 pages and submitted in PDF form.

If you’d like guidance while putting together your resume, our friends at Inclusv offer a fantastic resume workshop. You can find that here:


All of it!

You can do more than just list your paid jobs. We know that a variety of experiences shape who we are, our professional interests, and our skills. And the skills learned from seemingly unrelated jobs can transfer incredibly well to roles in politics. For example, the customer service focus you gain while working in the service industry can prepare you for a career in fundraising. We’re also looking for you to include any volunteer, internship, or other leadership roles you may have taken on in your community.

Our 2020 Cohort will include 100 members, an increase from the 60 in 2019.

We will offer digital and fundraising training, provided for our 2019 Graduates, as well as a new communications training option. Cohort members select one of these three areas of concentration during their application. In addition, each cohort member is trained in management and leadership.
The application for the 2020 program opens on October 28, 2019. Training is planned to start in January 2020, with the in-person training in March 2020. Graduates will be ready to start in a campaign role and, as is common for campaign jobs, will likely need to relocate by April 2020.

Our goal is to graduate 100 trained campaign staffers as part of the 2020 Cohort.

Below is the tentative schedule:

October 28, 2019 – The application opens

November 17, 2019 – The application closes

December 20, 2019 – Decisions are sent

January 13, 2020 – Online courses begin

March 26 – Travel day to D.C.

March 27 – 30, 2020 – In-Person Training in D.C.

April 1, 2020 – NDTC Staff Academy Graduates begin their job search with deep support from NDTC, other Staff Academy Graduates, and alumni

There are weekly required webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at 7:00 PM CT/8:00 PM ET. Your exact schedule will be determined by the skills track you choose.

The live training program is four full training days including both track-specific content as well as essential skills for managing and leading on campaigns.

Our training content is highly participatory and action-oriented in its design through simulation-based activities, scenarios, and professional development sessions. Additionally, live training is a chance for you to interact in-person with other cohort members, build community, and meet and network with our job placement partners.

2020 Staff Academy Cohort members will choose to pursue one of three training tracks: digital, fundraising, or communications.

  • Fundraising staffers research donors, ask for money and plan fundraising events. If you like to build relationships and interact with others, fundraising might be right for you.
    • Common job titles in the fundraising field include finance assistant, call time manager, and finance director.
  • Digital staffers manage a campaign’s social media accounts, write and send emails, and maintain the website to help raise money, recruit volunteers, and communicate with voters. If you like to post on social media and think creatively, digital may be for you.
    • Common job titles in the digital field include digital director, email strategist, social media strategist, digital director.
  • Communications staffers help craft the campaign’s message and ensure it is spread far and wide. If you like to build relationships and to write, communications may be for you.
    • Common job titles in the communications field include communications assistant, press secretary, and communications director.

This program is only appropriate for people who are fully committed to pursuing a paid career in Democratic campaigns in 2020 upon graduation. For that reason, one of our big priorities is to help every Staff Academy graduate find a campaign job after graduating.

Unfortunately, we cannot promise employment. Here’s what we can promise. We will:

  • Prepare you to find a job, coach you on your resume, and help you build effective interview skills.
  • Use our network to ensure grads are informed about open jobs and that their applications are highlighted to employers as appropriate.
  • Ensure potential employers know grads are trained and backed by NDTC.

Too often campaigns only share jobs within their network. Staff Academy will be your new network and give you access to opportunities you won’t always find elsewhere.

Our program is designed to recruit, train, and connect new staff to full-time, paid career opportunities in Democratic politics across the country. Many previous Staff Academy grads are people looking to make a career shift. If you already have a job outside of politics, you should only apply if:

  1. You can commit fully to fulfilling the time requirements of the program.
  2. You are 100% committed to leaving your current job to pursue a new career in politics upon graduating in April of 2020.

If you already have a paid job on a Democratic campaign and are looking to transition into a new area of work, this doesn’t exclude you from being a candidate for the program. Just please tell us in your application so we can ensure there are no Federal Election Commission conflicts.

No, if you don’t want a campaign job in 2020 then this program isn’t for you. If you don’t plan on pursuing a full-time paid career on a campaign, then check out our on-demand courses to help you sharpen your skills as a super volunteer or activist!

If you complete the program and are offered a job, it will most likely not be in your area. You should plan on relocating to a new city or state in April of 2020. Relocating temporarily for a campaign job is a very common and often necessary part of a career in campaigns.

Campaigns may or may not offer relocation expense support, but it is something you can discuss and negotiate with prospective employers.

Staff Academy is a community of people who invest in each other. NDTC is fully committed to supporting cohort members in their learning, in meeting program expectations, and in searching for a paid campaign position upon graduation. This support includes: 1-1 support from a NDTC program associate, weekly office hours with industry experts for coaching and questions about your course work, a deep commitment to a strong, collaborative, and inclusive learning environment with ongoing feedback to support cohort member’s growth, and job search support through facilitated interviews and introductions.

In 2019, nearly 600 people applied for our program. Sixty were chosen to participate in our inaugural Cohort. These Cohort members were trained in fundraising or digital tracks. Our 2019 Cohort was 62 percent people of color, 62 percent women, and five percent non-binary.

Our Cohort developed a strong collaborative community, sharing their knowledge and experiences to help each other succeed in the program. Many of them have stayed in touch with each other even after the program, keeping our communication channels active with job opportunities and advice.

Here are a few examples of roles currently held by Staff Academy Graduates:

  • Campaign manager for a city council race.
  • Political coordinator for a local SEIU chapter.
  • Finance director for a state assembly race.
  • Director of Latinx outreach for a Presidential campaign.
  • Finance director for a state congressional race.
  • Call time manager for a state senate race.

The purpose of NDTC’s Staff Academy is to connect well-qualified staff to paid positions on Democratic campaigns. The program is specifically designed to train leaders who are fully committed to working on Democratic campaigns in 2020. In order to accomplish this goal, NDTC deeply supports Staff Academy Graduates and Alumni during their job search.

NDTC will facilitate networking interviews at the in-person training in March 2020 for Staff Academy Graduates. Networking interviews are with partners who are actively looking to hire staff or work with candidates and campaigns to recruit applicants for paid positions. All Staff Academy Graduates who have not already secured a campaign role during the training phase of the program are eligible to participate in this process. In 2019, NDTC coordinated 126 interviews at our in-person training between our partners and NDTC Staff Academy Graduates. Numerous 2019 Graduates have accepted positions with partners they met through these networking interviews.

In addition to formal job postings, many political campaigns and committees reach out to their network looking for resumes of well-qualified staff who may be interested in joining a campaign as paid staff. NDTC maintains an up-to-date folder of Staff Academy Graduates and Alumni who are job searching which we share with our partners. This type of resume promotion has resulted in a number of job interviews and secured positions for 2019 Graduates.

Additionally, the Staff Academy network is strong and actively committed to supporting each other. We maintain an ongoing job board where NDTC staff and other Staff Academy Graduates and Alumni post job opportunities. Graduates often share information and learnings to support each other through interview and job offer negotiation processes. Graduates continue to work directly with NDTC staff during the job search for coaching and support.

We do all that we can to support your personal goals and help you find the right campaign position for you!

Like candidate courses in NDTC’s Online Academy, on-demand courses for staff are interactive and available online 24/7. Unlike participating in the Staff Academy Cohort, there is no application or interview process to access the courses. You can take as many or as few as you’d like on your own schedule.

Participating in the Staff Academy Cohort involves an intensive, multi-week program with deadlines and homework assignments, interactive practice opportunities, personalized feedback and coaching, access to industry leaders, and job search support.

Cohort members also benefit from a strong collaborative community of peers, sharing their knowledge and experiences to help each other succeed in the program and in their careers beyond.

If you are interested in simply learning more about what it is like to work on a campaign or enhance your knowledge of a particular topic, then the on-demand courses are right for you. If you actively want a paid position on campaigns and are committed to completing the program then you are strongly encouraged to apply!

If you have any other questions, you can email us at [email protected]. We strive to respond to all emails within two business days.

You can do this. Let’s get started.

Sign up now!

Our Partners