What Careers Can a Politics Degree Open Up?
There are lots of misconceptions about the career paths that become available after studying a Politics degree. Oftentimes, there’s an assumption that Politics graduates are aiming for one career, and one career only: Prime Minister. Whilst the next Prime Minister or President is out there somewhere, and may well be a Politics grad, there are a variety of other careers available as well!
A Politics degree can take you in many different directions and this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many careers without a direct link to politics where the transferable skills you’ve gained across your studies will be highly valuable. Your degree will broaden your options, rather than limit them.
4 Popular Jobs for Graduates with a Politics Degree
Here are 4 of the most popular and high-paying jobs for political science graduate students:
If you’re just starting out as a student or graduate and looking to become a politician, you’ll need plenty of work experience to expand your knowledge, put your skills into practice, and build your professional network of connections.
This might mean campaigning with a local party in your constituency, working as an MP’s assistant, or running for office during student elections at university.
Given the limited number of available roles, the competitive nature of the field and the need to be elected, this can be a demanding and time-consuming venture. This absolutely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but it may be useful to have another paid job lined up whilst you advance your political career.
2. Politician’s Assistant
One of the best ways to get started in politics is to work as an assistant to a politician. Assistants perform a range of tasks, including admin, research and publicity. The broad scope of a politician’s role is reflected in the work of their assistants, from dealing with constituents, media and lobbyists, to assisting with campaigns.
To become a politician’s assistant, you’ll need work experience. This could include shadowing an MP, completing an internship at a local constituency office, or volunteering with a think tank. Political activism is also a bonus, especially if it aligns with your future goals, so becoming a member of a student union can also be helpful. Similarly, you should be able to show evidence of affinity with the political party of the politician you wish to work within.
Being a politician’s assistant can be very rewarding, especially if you have a good relationship dynamic with the politician. However, it’s important to note that there are also stressful aspects of the role, such as job insecurity and working under pressure, particularly during campaigns and elections.
3. Civil Servant
You may want the satisfaction of working on policy without the uncertainty that comes with being a politician’s assistant. The Civil Service covers a range of political careers, including finance, research, diplomacy, and even some opportunities to work in the Houses of Parliament!
The Civil Service offers a structured entry scheme for graduates, known as the ‘Fast Stream’, offering an alternative route to becoming a politician. These schemes are not the only way into the Civil Service, but they’re the most commonly used by recent grads. The courses are two to four years long, with good starting salaries, and include postings within government departments. Oftentimes, they can lead to a permanent position in the Civil Service upon completion.
Before applying to the Fast Stream, you can prepare by reading about the Civil Service assessment phases. There are many stages in the application process, including online tests, a video interview and a series of tasks at a Fast Stream Assessment Centre.
There are some great benefits to the Civil Service route, like the training available and the wide variety of politics careers on offer. However, you should be aware that some schemes are more competitive than others, particularly the Houses of Parliament and Diplomatic schemes, which average around five and ten places per year, respectively.
4. Think Tanks
Think tanks are organisations that conduct research in a specialist area in order to provide evidence for political arguments and lobbying. Political careers with think tanks combine the research and report-writing of academia with the real-world aim of shaping policy and public opinion.
Work experience is vital and can be picked up through internships with think tanks directly (this is also very useful for networking). A political career with a think tank allows you to pursue your specialist interests further, enables you to influence policy from outside the world of politics, and builds connections that you could use to further your political career later on.
However, there are some caveats; whilst there are a lot of think tanks, you may not find one that exactly matches your political views. The reality of a political career can sometimes mean ignoring opportunities that you don’t feel comfortable pursuing.
And much more…
There are lots of potential careers that a Politics degree can open up, such as journalism, marketing or charity work. The skills that a Politics degree provides you with can be applied in a wide variety of ways.
Over the course of your degree, you develop your research, communication, analysis and organisation skills, and these skills are valuable for a career across a range of fields. Although I’ve focused on political careers here, a Politics degree can set you up for lots of jobs, including ones you may not have considered yet.
If you’re looking for more guidance, you can take OxBright’s Career Test – it’s free, and will provide you with three suggested career options based on your interests, values and preferences, as well as suggesting some further reading and ways to boost your profile ahead of university.
Ready to get a head start on your future in politics?
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