Obama’s first official job was as a financial writer for New York-based international consulting firm, Business International Corporation. He joined the firm soon after graduating from Columbia University in 1985.
Less than two years later, Obama moved to South Side, Chicago, to take up the position of Director for the Developing Communities Project in Roseland and Altgeld Gardens, a church-based social action group dedicated towards enhancing the living conditions of people in the community. His responsibilities ranged from the mundane, day-to-day support service (utilities, regulatory, legal, employment), to those involving organizing and developing outreach and educational programs for the community. During the period, Obama also volunteered for the Gamaliel Foundation, a congregation-based organization that provides leadership training programs, consultation, research and analysis on social justice issues for community leaders.
He left in 1988 to enroll with Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While at Harvard, Obama worked as a summer associate in the law firms of Sidley & Austin and Hopkins & Sutter (now known as Foley & Lardner).
After graduation, he returned to Chicago and practiced civil rights law with the law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He was attached to the firm from 1992 until 2004. In the same period, he also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, first as a lecturer (1992-1996), and later, as professor (1996-2004).
Obama at the University of Chicago
He took his first step into politics by heading the Illinois Project VOTE, a Clinton-campaign supported voter-registration initiative. Under his leadership, the program managed to successfully register over 150,000 new voters in 1992. His next foray into politics came four years later when he ran for and won the Illinois 13th District State Senate seat. He repeated the feat in 1998 by defeating Republican Yesse Yehudah, securing an incredible 89% of the votes in the process.
In 2000, Obama made a step up and contested the House of Representatives seat of Illinois District 1. He was, however, soundly beaten in the Democratic primary by the incumbent, Bobby Rush, losing by a huge 30.67 points. Rush has the distinction of being the only person to defeat Obama in an election for public office. Obama remains unfazed and regrouped to defend his State Senate seat in 2002, winning unopposed.
In November 2004, Obama, who by then had risen to the chairmanship of the Illinois Senate's Public Health and Welfare Committee, made another attempt for national office. This time, he won the Illinois Senate seat after routing his Republican challenger, Alan Keyes, by winning 70% of the votes. His strong performance is widely credited to his acclaimed keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that year. He was sworn as US Senator on January 4, 2005.
Amidst a breakneck senatorial career that saw him either sponsoring or co-sponsoring a total of 627 bills, Senator Obama announced that he was running for president of the United States on February 10, 2007, in Springfield, Illinois. Obama was officially unveiled as the Democratic nominee on August 2008 after winning a closely contested primary battle with Hillary Clinton.
In the 2008 presidential election, Obama, with Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate, comprehensively defeated Republican challenger John McCain by winning 365 electoral votes to his opponent’s 173. Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009.