A BYU alumnus, Peter Valcarce, spoke to students on Thursday about political campaign management and his experience in the political world.
Valcarce received a bachelor’s degree in communications from BYU in 1986. He is the co-founder and CEO of Arena Communication, a well-known Republican direct-mail firm that was employed by famous clients such as the Bush-Cheney campaign, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Republican National Committee.
“Politics is a lot more like motorcycling,” Valcarce said. “You have to be single-minded while doing it.”
He said political jobs are just seasonal jobs, and they require current skills in technology and current knowledge about the political world. For most people, political campaigning is not a career, just a stepping stone.
“You spend a large percentage of your life at work,” he said. “… So the only thing you need to make sure is whatever you do in life, love it.”
Valcarce shared his deep knowledge of the political campaign field with students. He said political job functions involve management, organization, press relations, fund raising, new media, policy and scheduling. A political science student can have a job in political consulting as general consulting, media consulting, polling or opposition research.
“A political campaign is like anything which you have passion for,” he said. “It can be a lucrative career if you find the right niche.”
Valcarce gave lessons of life for BYU students and suggested students pick a side in the political world before entering the political campaign industry. BYU students should start their career now, be willing to work in small jobs and get as many internships as they can, he said.
“Sometimes defeat is as important as victory,” he said. “…That’s all part of the learning process.”
Students must be ethical, truthful and relevant in their career, he said. He said politics is war and students will have enemies; therefore, they have to watch their backs.
“In conclusion, political campaigning can be dirty,” Valcarce said. “You work for candidates that you don’t like. But at the end of the day, you step back, you look at some people and you kind of nod your head.”