How does one become a lobbyist? Or, how did you?
This is, to date, still one of the most popular questions I get to my old Anonymous Lobbyist e-mail address. Seriously, I wonder some times if the fact that I quit lobbying, burned bridges and wrote a column for two years about how much it sucked to be a lobbyist actually penetrated anyone who read them.
Again: lobbyists aren't all Abramoff, pulling in a few mil a year. Most people make office-type, middle management in a small company salaries when they finish moving through the ranks, if they do.
Anyway, I went to grad school full time, worked 2-3 internships a semester (i.e., 30-35 hours a week) at different places to get experience and realized when looking at my resume that most of the internships I was landing were in government affairs as opposed to the more serious think-tanking, national security stuff I was interested in, and then I adjusted by job search accordingly. Then I landed a job, got cut to part time, landed another, got laid off, landed a third where I was finally forced to register as a lobbyist, left for another that paid better, left for another than paid better, quit because that one sucked so bad, went to a think tank where I didn't lobby as much as did PR, got laid off and finally looked at my life and decided to do something else.
Most people put in time on the Hill at really low salaries for a few years in order to land a middle management gig; if they are lucky, worked for someone important for a long time and have a reputation, they'll get a bigger gig. Or else you start low, as I did, and move up. It's like any other job.