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Mon Jun 11, 2012, 11:34 AM

 

Career advice needed\question about polls and pollsters

I have been toying with the idea of pursuing a career in politics for what I hope is the final phase of my working career. I am interested in public opinion polling and surveys but don't really know where to start my investigation.

Some questions:

Do polling firms recruit out of poli sci and sociology departments primarily? Or do they tend to look at marketing\biz majors?
Is the best way to enter the field primarily from an academic background or can one easily enter it through another avenue?
How could a humanities major (English and History) break in to the field?

I have job experience in teaching, IT, writing and editing and customer service\technical support. I'm reasonably sure that I have transferable skills that would fit right in to the polling segment of the economy but I have no idea where to begin.

Any advice\insight (or even recs about books to read) would be greatly appreciated. I'm located in Southern California on the west side of Los Angeles and currently am not in a position to relocate, barring some miraculous recovery in real estate.

I considered putting this in the Career Help and Advice forum, but that forum seems relatively lightly travelled and I thought some of the political junkies who actually do the work would be more likely to frequent GD.

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Reply Career advice needed\question about polls and pollsters (Original post)
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 OP
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #1
frazzled Jun 2012 #2
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #3
liskddksil Jun 2012 #4
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #5
tabbycat31 Jun 2012 #6
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #10
taught_me_patience Jun 2012 #7
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #11
taught_me_patience Jun 2012 #12
MineralMan Jun 2012 #8
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #9
MineralMan Jun 2012 #13

Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 12:31 PM

1. Self-kick for added exposure. - n/t

 

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 12:53 PM

2. I had a neighbor who worked in polling (for Dems)

I believe his background was in statistics, however (academic, statistician). His firm also did other kinds of work, but he had an interest in politics. I don't know if that's the only or main route in, but I have a feeling it wouldn't hurt to have a course or two in statistics under your belt (at a local college, perhaps).

It sounds like you might have good writing and editorial skills, which might also be good qualifiers. Why don't you write to several firms, letting them know your skills and background, and asking them what (if any) other skills they might be looking for?

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Response to frazzled (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 01:25 PM

3. Excellent advice. I'll be heading to my local branch library this p.m. and

 

will ask the reference librarian's assistance in putting together a list of such firms.

I had statistics a long, long time ago, but would probably have to take some refresher courses in it, as I remember very little of it now.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Much appreciated.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 01:42 PM

4. Here are some good sites to use look for jobs in the field.

 

Democratic Gain is a Democratic politics specific board, but polling jobs are sometimes listed here.
http://www.democraticgain.org/

Quirk's Marketing Research Review provides a great listing of jobs in survey research, some applicable to polling.
http://www.quirks.com/jobs/index.aspx

American Association of Public Opinion Research has a good listing as well.
http://jobs.aapor.org/home/index.cfm?site_id=9847

Also doing a search on indeed.com or craigslist for polling or survey research might get you some listings.

In terms of reading, The Handbook of Survey Research provides a good background about the research process.
http://www.amazon.com/Survey-Research-Handbook-Third-Edition/dp/0072945486/ref=pd_sim_b_3

Lastly, a great video of a Democratic pollster talking to students about campaign polling.
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/290912-102

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Response to liskddksil (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 02:45 PM

5. Awesome suggestions. Will start in on this later today. (As you could probably tell, I

 

was floundering a little bit, so the resources you list will kick-start my research and efforts.)

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 03:00 PM

6. I work in politics

And while I do not have experience in polling and research (I work in field). I got into politics first by volunteering on campaigns and then by attending numerous political trainings (some I had to apply to get into, others I had to pay a nominal fee to attend). My position does require relocating (which I have done three times but the campaign has put me up in supporter housing). In fact, I just relocated last week (9 hours away).

Check out the website www.democraticgain.org because they have a lot of tips for people who work in politics and looking to work in politics.

If you need any advice, feel free to PM me. I'm always willing to help out someone in the field.

ETA various campaigns also have research departments and you could look there as well.

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Response to tabbycat31 (Reply #6)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 04:02 PM

10. Thanks, TabbyCat, for the general background and the specific tip. Much

 

appreciated!

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 03:08 PM

7. I worked for a market research company at the start of my career

 

Political polling is a small portion of their total business. Most of the polling you do will be for customer service or government. The size of the company will determine the roles you can play.

Answers to your questions:
1) They like statisticians but will recruit out of all fields if the candidate shows knowledge of statistics
2) Talk to old professors. Many market research guys have deep connections to academia. Professors might be able to arrange a recommendation or a meeting.
3) In larger companies with specific roles, english guys are needed to create surveys and write the final decks for presentation. Jack-of-all-trades are welcome anywhere.

PM me if you have any specific questions I can answer.

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Response to taught_me_patience (Reply #7)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 04:05 PM

11. Thanks, TMP. I'm thinking I'll need to take 1-2 courses in stats to

 

refresh my memory (took a long time ago and have forgotten most of it).

Your offer is much appreciated and I will be in touch if anything pops up.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #11)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 04:34 PM

12. I highly recommend that.

 

Long Beach State offers a masters in stats that is a one year program that you should look into if you can. We've (my new company not related to market research) hired several people from that program. Be sure to develop good relationships with your professors, as they will be the best referral source for jobs.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 03:41 PM

8. You can go to this link to see the kinds of jobs

polling companies offer:

http://www.gallup.com/careers/Gallup-Careers.aspx

Use their search tool to explore available jobs at that particular polling company. Similar jobs should exist at other polling firms.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #8)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 04:01 PM

9. Sometimes I just want to slap myself upside the head for my

 

inability to see what's staring me right in the face. Duh! Of course, polling companies would have a 'Careers' tab.

But thanks, MM, for pointing it out anyway. Old farts like me sometimes need to get slapped upside the head

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #9)

Mon Jun 11, 2012, 06:46 PM

13. Hey, I'm an old geezer myself, out of retirement

and working for a living again. Looks like polling companies have positions you'd be suited for, it seems to me.

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