Pursuing a career in politics requires a great deal of knowledge and determination. While there are many who might have what it takes to succeed in the political job market, it can often be difficult to figure out where to start. If you are interested in politics, you’ll want to consider taking some of the actions listed below. There are several paths to getting a political job, but you can’t begin until you know where they start.
Types of Political Jobs
It’s important to remember that political jobs encompass more than just a elected office. Most of the political jobs in the United States don’t require an election, but rather require being hired by a politician’s office or appointed to a position. Being on the city council is certainly a political job, but so too is being a staffer for a council member. Other political jobs include working for an attorney general’s office, being a project staffer for a city office, or even working within a municipal department. When you decide you want a political position, it is important that you first stop and decide what kind of job for which you are looking. Here are a few political staff positions to consider:
- Chief of Staff
- Deputy Chief of Staff
- Communications Manager / Director
- Campaign Manager
- Legislative Director
- Senior Advisor
- Deputy Campaign Manager
Start with a Degree
The most logical place to start for those with a passion for politics is with a degree in political science. The degree itself is a good way to learn more about how the government works and the specializations within the field offer students a chance to become experts on the academic side of their chosen fields. A political science degree certainly isn’t necessary for going into politics, but it does provide an excellent springboard for those who want to know more about the functions of government. Education is highly valued in the political arena.
It’s also important to note that a political science degree can be a good stepping stone to other degrees that are important to politics. May lawyers, for example, pursue political science degrees before they go to law school. Other would-be politicians pursue the degree because it gives them access to internships and career resources that are only available within the political science departments of some universities. Choosing to pursue a degree in political science can reward you with more than just knowledge – it can help you in your search for your first political job. Having a law degree would certainly help when pursuing a legislative staff position.
Choose a Specialty
Even without a political science degree, you can still get a job in politics by being an expert in your field. Think about your political passion and then seek out a political opportunity in that field. If you care about the environment, for example, get a degree in environmental science and pursue a career that makes use of those skills. Once you’ve established a baseline of expertise, you will find it easier to work with politicians – and then to advise them. Becoming a leader in your own field is often one of the best ways to become a force to be reckoned with in politics. If you have a skill that is valuable to a campaign, you can use that skill to get hired as a consultant which can turn into a staff position later on.
Volunteer in the Community
According to The Guardian, one of the best ways to get a political job is to become a visible member of your community. If there are any civic events, always make sure to sign up as volunteer staff. While you might not make money doing this, you will get a unique opportunity to work with political staffers. When it comes time to apply for a job, having them know your face will be one of the best legs up you can get. Other ways to get started include joining community action or organizing campaigns jobs. There are many initiatives that are funded and need people to help organize and get people to vote for various causes.
Political Campaign Jobs
Finally, make sure to work as campaign staff for politicians whenever you can. It doesn’t matter if you are working for someone in a local or national race – this kind of experience is incredibly valuable in the political field. You will get a first-hand view of how the electoral process works and you may even be able to help shape the views of someone who is running for an important office. When it comes time for you to apply for a political position, this knowledge will help to differentiate you from other candidates. If your candidate wins the election, you stand a good chance of getting a full-time position on their staff depending on the value you added to the campaign.
No matter what path you take, getting a political job will require hard work and dedication. You will always be competing with people who are just as driven and accomplished as you are, so it’s good to seek out ways to differentiate yourself. Whether you pursue a particular education path or you make sure you become a known quality in the political sphere before applying for a job, it is the unique actions you take that will best help you to get the job of your dreams.
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