2013 Graduate | Communications Director for Member of Congress, House of Representatives
AIRMAN’S POLITICAL CAREER TAKES OFF WITH GSPM
You can’t avoid politics in the military. If you’re enlisted, you feel its impact daily, but you also know it’s forbidden to actively engage. U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Buckles found a creative way to pursue his growing interest in politics. He chose to obtain a master’s degree in Political Management at the George Washington University.
“As I was in the Air Force, I wasn’t able to fully participate in partisan politics, by law,” Kyle said. “But what I could do was study, learn, and do what I could do to try to set myself up for a job in partisan politics.”
The online program was his only option due to his rigid work schedule, but its convenience also became much more apparent after a new job assignment. When Kyle enrolled, he was stationed in Maryland. Soon after, the Air Force moved him to Alaska. While the time difference proved to be a difficult transition personally, he experienced no loss of quality in his course engagement. “There’s a sizable time difference between D.C. and Alaska, but the instructors are very accessible,” Kyle said.
POWERFUL CONTACTS THAT LAST
As a newcomer to politics, it was equally helpful for Kyle to connect with colleagues online. Not only could they provide realworld examples he had yet to experience, but he also formed bonds and made contacts that extended beyond the online courses.
What’s more, Kyle’s first job after the Air Force came in part thanks to networking with students online. “One of my classmates was kind enough to circulate my resume to the Missouri GOP,” Kyle said. “That is how my current office got it and gave me a phone call.” That marked the beginning of Kyle’s Capitol Hill career.
DETERMINED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
After the Air Force, Kyle went on to work for a House member as a staff assistant. At first his post was largely clerical and not very challenging. Soon, however, he started noticing ways to improve the office and made suggestions based on his political management courses. Finally, he didn’t have to keep quiet about his opinions.
“I didn’t have much sway in the office,” Kyle said, “but because of some of the things I learned in the program, I was able to add value to what I thought was a lacking area in our office, which was the communications side. I just started making some suggestions and my chief and congresswoman saw some value in that.”
One memorable instance occurred while he was driving the congresswoman to a C-SPAN interview. In the car, she casually asked Kyle for his opinion on a major discussion point. He shared his viewpoint, not knowing what she would do with the information.
“I was waiting in the green room for her to finish and watching the show,” Kyle said. “I heard my sentiments come out on national TV. That was a
kind of an eye-opener: that I actually have some sway in the office and can affect some things.”
CLIMBING THE LADDER ON CAPITOL HILL
Kyle didn’t remain a staff assistant very long. He said his promotion to Communications Director for the congresswoman was a shock. It’s likely less surprising to his online colleagues and instructors, whose support helped steer Kyle to find his place in politics.
“A lot of my colleagues and peers here have oodles and oodles of media experience that I did not,” Kyle said. Their guidance, along with the skills he learned in the MPM program allowed him to quickly advance at the office.
“The master’s degree in Political Management definitely gave me some inkling of what I needed to be doing and how to position myself in order to do the job best. That insight has allowed me to very quickly move up the ranks. From staff assistant, I became Communications Director in just under 2 years, which is kind of unheard of here.” – Kyle Buckles