Being president of the TCU Student Government Association is not necessarily a stepping stone into a political career, but it is a pathway to learn time-management, to sharpen people skills and to learn a great deal about yourself, say two former SGA presidents.Jay Zeidman, SGA president in 2004, said being president while juggling 15 hours of class taught him a lot about time-management, discipline and himself.
“You find out what you’re strongest and weakest at,” Zeidman said.
SGA President David Watson watched Zeidman the year he served and said Zeidman grew as a person during his term.
He started prioritizing his time, focusing on the most important goals and meetings because “as president, you’re overwhelmed with meetings and people wanting time,” Watson said.
Brad Thompson, SGA president in 2003, said his presidency helped him understand how TCU worked, gain a better appreciation of the university and sharpened his people skills.
“I learned what it means to work with people to accomplish a goal,” Thompson said.
Larry Markley, SGA adviser, said both men grew in their leadership skills and in the way they dealt with people.
“Brad had a really big thing with sharing,” Markley said. “He wanted to share everything with the students.”
Not only did the presidency help both men while they were at TCU but also with their jobs.
Thompson is a college pastor at Christ Fellowship Church and said SGA helped him work with different types of people and develop a passion for people.
Zeidman works in the White House. He’s in the Office of Public Liaison, which is a public outreach for the president of the United States.
SGA helped Zeidman with his communication skills, discipline and ability to shift focuses, he said.
Although Zeidman is in the political arena now, he is not making a career out of it. He said he plans on getting his MBA and going into the business world.
Thompson said he wouldn’t go into politics either because it gave him “a bad taste.”
Being president of SGA is not necessarily a stepping stone into politics, Watson said.
“When you dedicate a year to the student body, you learn to lead and develop leadership skills,” Watson said. “You can use the new talents in any field.”
Adam Schiffer, an assistant professor of political science, said he’s not really sure there is a big connection between student politics and professional politics.
“As far as preparing yourself for a career in politics, a real-world apprenticeship is better than the make-believe world of student government,” he said.
“Many politically ambitious students choose to serve on the local, regional or national governance of the College Democrats or College Republicans; that can be a more fruitful pipeline into the world of real politics.”
Someone interested in politics for a career does not technically need any specific training, Schiffer said, because all a person has to do is get elected.
“But to get elected, you need to be able to raise money and to do that you need connections,” he said. “The best way students can make such connections is by working for elected officials.