Election 2012: DePaul Student Gets Hands-On Experience With Obama Campaign

 Will Gross Photo

William Gross (second from left) and fellow interns outside
an Obama campaign bus. (Courtesy photo)

By Allison Preston
The Red Line Project

Posted: Monday, Nov. 5, 2012

As the Obama campaign comes into a finals week of its own, all of the hard work that DePaul junior William Gross put into the campaign will be put to the test.

“Whether President Obama wins or loses, this office has a lot to celebrate and be proud of,” Gross said.

The political science major has long been an Obama follower. He first worked for the Obama campaign in 2008 in the Nebraska state headquarters in Omaha -- and now in Chicago for his second term.

After lengthy essays, questionnaires and multiple interviews, Gross became one of the interns at Chicago’s Obama campaign headquarters.

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So what does a typical day look like for Gross?

Juggling school and two jobs, Gross starts his day early with plenty of coffee and a check in with the world.

“I have to have at least three to four cups of coffee before I even get going,” he said. “Then I check Twitter, Facebook, check all our social media from the campaign and see what’s happening.”

The preparation continues on the way downtown as Gross frantically loads multiple articles on his iPhone to read on the train. For those working on the campaign being up-to-the-minute on the news is crucial, dictating what the day’s responsibilities hold.

“To run a good political campaign or anything in politics you have to know what’s going on everywhere. In the country, in Chicago, even in the world,” he said, taking a moment to peer up from the phone.

Entering headquarters, rows upon rows of desks are lined up with hundreds of workers, mostly younger, bent over their laptops. The room is surprisingly quiet despite the sound of tapping on keyboards, phones ringing and the occasional deadline freak-out.

A typical workday for Gross is usually five hours, but with the election is just around the corner he now works anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day. 

He wastes no time getting to work at his desk, checking his email and responding to messages for the first 45 minutes. Afterward, he joins his team in the Paid Media department, which brainstorms ideas for TV and radio ads, and YouTube videos while also analyzing the opposing candidate’s media.

“Our team has spent so much time together we’ve gotten close. We go out to lunch everyday and get breakfast every Friday at a place in the building,” Gross said.

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The biggest question now is what will happen election night and on?

Tuesday marks the big day where everything counts, as well as Gross’s last day at headquarters. After the workday staff will celebrate at President Obama’s election party downtown at the McCormick Place.

“I’m looking forward to seeing who America has voted for and by what margin. I’m also excited to see the President make a speech and just feel the energy in the room that night,” Gross said with a wide grin.

Aside from a presidential win, the night would be perfect for Gross if he gets to meet the man that has inspired him since high school.

“I’d be like a deer in headlights,” he laughed. I’ve watched the man on T.V., worked for him since 2008 and am so thankful for the things he has done that have helped me and millions of others.”

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