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How to Get Into Politics

by | May 12, 2021 | Student Life

Working in politics involves being a part of the federal, state, or local government. By working in politics, it can lead to a long, fulfilling career making a difference within a community, or even a country. 

Political Career Paths

The U.S Capitol building rotunda.
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Many think of a career in politics and think of congresspeople and presidents. But, there are many roles involved with politics. If you are interested in being in one of those roles, the first thing to do is get a degree in something related to politics. A few good options are international relations, political science, economics, public policy, public health, communications, and criminal justice. Many think that only those with political science degrees can go into political positions, but the political field benefits from different backgrounds. 

Possible political careers can involve working for political action committees (PACs), lobbying, governmental organizations, administrative roles, and in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

While it can be difficult to break into the larger political careers on the federal level without a name or money, there are many different types of elected offices. Some are on a local level, such as the school board, city/state board member, city council, and mayor. 

The start of a political career usually begins as a volunteer, then an aide or lobbyist. Then it can progress to roles like campaign manager, and chief of staff at political organizations. But, the path in politics can go in a multitude of ways. So, it is important to start local and work your way up to a national level if you have the desire to.

Many think of governmental and political jobs as the same. But, they are different, while many use them interchangeably. Political jobs are usually involved with a political campaign trail, movement, or representative.

Skills for a Career in Politics

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To have a career in politics, you must posses specific qualities and here are a few.

  • Outgoing
  • High level of networking, and with powerful people
  • Be visible
  • Emotional maturity
  • Discretion
  • Hold an intelligent conversation
  • Pay attention to both national, state, and local
  • Staying engaged
  • Critical and quick thinking
  • Crisis Management 
  • High-quality communication skills
  • Presenting orally and in writing
  • Knowledge of the political process and the political system.

Internships in Politics

A close up of a building in Washington D.C.
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Beginning as an intern or volunteer position is the starting point for a political career. It involves doing the grunt work. But, getting that first experience in the political scene early on in college is crucial. In fact, many politically related majors require an internship to be completed before graduation. 

There is a variety of types of political internships. To name a few of them, field organizing, fundraising, public relations, political affairs, campaign, editor, policy, external relations, constituent and legislative affairs, and analysts. The most common role of a college intern is within the local and state government offices or for the staff of elected officials. 

Some colleges have fantastic programs for interning within Washington D.C. That is when students spend a semester gaining federal government experience. It is a form of “studying abroad” and allows for political career aspiring students to get hands-on experience.

4 Potential Entry-Level Jobs in Politics

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An account executive is for someone who deals with the communications side of politics. There are many account executives who either work specifically for government accounts or deal with political advertising. 

Legislative aides work for a legislator. They work on legislation by researching, drafting, and making recommendations for that piece of legislation. Every congressman or senator has a team of legislative aides. 

Political data analysts work on research on governments with their political ideas, policies, and political trends. They collect, process, and do analysis on large sets of data. 

Social media managers with political experience usually work with political campaign social media accounts. Especially in this digital media age, social media presence for political candidates and figures is important.

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Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.