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Complete Guide to Getting a Job in Politics

If you are fascinated by politics and wondering if you could make a career out of it, there are plenty of options to consider outside of running for office. Here is the complete guide.

Politics is a fast paced, adrenaline filled industry. If you’re interested in getting into politics, you may be thinking about how to get involved. What is it like working on a campaign? How do you start influencing policy or trying to make a difference in your community? 

If you are fascinated by politics and wondering if you could make a career out of it, there are plenty of options to consider outside of running for office. Here is the complete guide. 

Understand what roles are available

The first step to getting a job in politics is understanding what roles are available. Being in politics isn’t just about running for office. In the United States, politics involves all the activities and events associated with the federal and local governments.

There are public relations and media relations positions, political strategists, pollsters, legislative support and administrators. You can look at jobs at a local, state, and national level so it really depends where you want to take your career. 

If you’re looking for specific jobs or wanting to have a look at the roles available at a local or federal level, check out job boards or central government websites. This will give you an idea of what’s available and what skills you need to have to apply. 

Political roles are also quite cyclical. For example, at the start of an election season, there will be a lot more roles available for people to work and help out on the campaign trail. On the other hand, government roles are a lot more stable. 

So if you are thinking about going into politics, you need to understand what roles are available and what roles to go for. Do your research. There are many books, podcasts, people you can talk to that can give you insight into the world of politics. Be informed and this will be the first step to understanding what you need to then get a job in politics.

Degree or no degree

There are many paths into politics, and a variety of jobs available, so having a degree in politics, or another subject, is helpful but not essential. 

The main benefit of having a degree in political science is that it gives you an in-depth understanding of political systems, national and international. It is not the same as the practical experience you will get from being active in your community, but it does help. If you are in college, you will also have opportunities to build your political skills, like joining by joining a political or campaign group within the student union. Many of these student groups will give you access to people working in the political field, which is a great way to start networking and building your contacts list.

What skills do you need 

Aspiring professionals from any background can go into politics. What you need is resilience and creativity. You need to enjoy the fast-paced, high-intensity environment of lobbying and government organizations. Being in politics means trying to convince others to buy into the change you want to influence. 

If you are looking at building your political experience in the judiciary, there are plenty of roles available, for example, working for the supreme court or state attorney. You will need a legal background for the coveted Attorney roles, but there are many other roles like analysts and strategists that help these officials in their roles. If you are highly organized and enjoy research, these roles would be well suited for you. 

Building a career in politics involves some critical skills. Honesty, a high degree of emotional maturity, and discretion, to name a few. Those who excel in politics master social astuteness, interpersonal influence, stakeholder management, and the ability to think on the spot. Being able to wear different hats and changing them depending on the situation is also a skill that needs to be mastered when going into politics. 

Knowing how to make your community trust you is also a vital part to being successful in politics. For example, suppose you are trying to change policy, but you do not know whom the policy will affect. In that case, you will not be able to get your policy over the line, particularly if you want to work on campaigns and community grass-root initiatives. 

What is the best way to get into politics

Coupled with the skills we mentioned above, community knowledge, experience, and a strong network are good ways of getting into politics. Many jobs in politics stem from building on these through internships and networking opportunities. Some Universities seem to churn out more political leaders than others, like Harvard, but you can still get into politics without a prestigious university backing. Instead, you will need to tap into your network. 

Work on your networking, which helps develop the soft skills you will need when you get a political job. Reach out to local non-governmental organizations and ask if you can help them with their fundraising efforts. Apply for internships or volunteer at your local grassroots organizations. Get involved in fundraisers. Use your social media to build a presence and make it known that you are listening to the community around you. These are all ways to grow your network and build on the experience you need to become good at politics.

How do you develop in politics 

We talked about keeping in touch with your community, and we will dive more into that now. One of the essential parts of having a successful career in politics is staying informed on local, national, and international news. When you’re working in politics, particularly if its in the media, strategy or campaign space, you need to know what is happening around you. If you’re building a policy on a particular topic, it’s important to research both sides of the argument so that when you present your policy, its not seen as biased. Well researched and balanced pieces of work go a long way when you’re working in politics. 

As you advance through your career in politics, you will need to constantly look for ways to improve your skills and develop professionally. Finding an area that you are passionate about is a great way to be an expert in an area. In addition, staying relevant and engaged is crucial for anyone wanting to be successful in politics. 

Political work is not just about working for a political party during an election year. There are so many roles around us day-to-day that influence the way we live. So if you’re looking at getting into politics, think about what skills you have to offer, and look at roles that can help you leverage these skills. Either way, a career in politics is highly rewarding. Particularly when you can see how the change you’ve worked for impacts the community around you.

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