Josh Cooper Furman University Alumni

Josh Cooper '02

— Strategic Information Consultant, Next Generation Strategies, LLC

I encourage young people to look into young professional groups associated with their industry and to get to know their colleagues as many benefits can be found when discovering common ground.


Personal/Professional Journey

How did you find your way to where you are today? Share a little about your professional journey.

In the winter of 1999, I was taking a political parties class with Dr. Brent Nelsen. One of our requirements was to volunteer for 10 hours on any political campaign we wanted, republican or democrat. It just happened to be the middle of the 2000 republican primary campaign between Bush and McCain. It quickly became clear Senator McCain had no operation in South Carolina and needed to rely on Jessica DeGraffenreid and myself to coordinate most of the activity in Greenville for the first few months of the campaign. I was instantly hooked. From there, I participated in the Washington, DC study away program and ultimately made political campaigns my life. I worked for a U.S. Senator, the Republican National Committee, and served as an appointee at the U.S. Department of Transportation in the Bush Administration. Upon leaving the administration in 2007, I opened my own political consulting companies and have been consulting and advising republican candidates, elected officials, and corporate interests ever since. It has been an exciting journey that started at Furman almost 20 years ago.
What motivations fueled your career path?

There are two motivations that fueled my career path. First, I am driven by a conservative philosophy that people, capitalism, competition, and innovation will always outperform an overbearing and bureaucratic government that strangles small business and entrepreneurship with its job killing regulations and overreach. Second, I am a former athlete who thrives on competition. I hate to lose and that fuels my motivation to be successful.

Within the field

When providing advice for professional development, what are some tools or resources one should consider?

I have learned relationships are extremely important to professional development in business and politics. A person who can get along with other people, is trustworthy, and easily coached will always get the nod over the latter. Throughout my career I have tried to make it a point to get to know colleagues outside of work and I have received numerous referrals from this “networking” philosophy. I encourage young people to look into young professional groups associated with their industry and to get to know their colleagues as many benefits can be found when discovering common ground.
How would you recommend someone interested in the same career/vocation pursue a similar path?

The easiest way to get involved in political campaigns is to volunteer for a candidate. Some of the best employees I have ever had were hired after volunteering on a campaign. Cream rises to the top and I have seen volunteers promoted to really strong paid positions rather quickly and on numerous occasions.

How is success defined in your career field? (How did Furman prepare you to be successful?)

In political campaigns success is pretty easy to define: winning. Furman prepared me to be successful both inside of and out of the classroom. Real campaign experience as a volunteer was quintessential to my success. In fact, I lost my first four campaigns before I learned how to win. It was that hands-on experience that taught me more about political campaigns than I could have ever learned in the classroom.

For someone just getting started

What do you wish you would have known getting started in your field?

In politics, someone who is your boss today can be working for you tomorrow. I have many young people receive a position of power on a campaign and become prideful. They treat their staff unkindly and might find themselves working for that same person a year or two later. The best advice I can give is to treat everyone with respect, be firm when needed, but always be respectful. In the end, it will serve you better.
How could Furman help with getting someone started?

Furman could create a political volunteer job pool/bank to help students connect to local campaigns. If locals knew there was a resource to recruit potential volunteers, they would likely jump at the opportunity.

Furman University

How has your liberal arts background shaped your career path or supported your success?

My liberal arts background has been vitally important to my growth in the political world. What is old will be new again in politics, so an understanding of history, economics, math, sociology, philosophy, and more are all extremely important to understanding the electorate in any given context.
What extracurricular activities helped you develop professionally?

Athletics helped make me the man I am today. Football, unlike any other sport, requires you to get knocked down over and over again and repeatedly pick yourself up. You are forced to work with people of different backgrounds and beliefs to achieve a unifying goal. When you are tired, you have to dig deep and give your all, no matter the scenario.

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