One wag was quoted as saying that the only career a political scientist is fit for is teaching political science. While an academic career is one option, there many others to choose from.
For example, non-profit organizations, government agencies, political action groups and candidates, newspapers, and even international concerns, need individuals who can plan, implement and report on their campaigns to institute change. A look at Internet job, government, political, and private organization sites, along with specialty newsletters and magazines, can yield a wider variety of exciting employment than one may imagine.
Start by asking a professors or counselor
Start by asking a professors or counselor for student helps in the field. You may also want to look into which trade magazines and newsletters to subscribe to. These insider sources can provide invaluable information, including numerous ideas for training and job-seeking tips.
Non-profit organizations dedicated to conservation of the environment, the welfare of the homeless, the treatment of AIDS sufferers, preventive health care for children, and other worthy causes also need politically savvy people to interface with private and government sources, keep track of progress and present reports to their contributors.
State and national government agencies need not only to plan programs, but to communicate their plans and results in languages understandable to the average person. Divisions from the Department of State, to the Department of Education, communicate regularly with the public about their activities. A political science major, who knows the ins and outs of policy and can translate notoriously wordy government-speak into everyday language, is a valuable asset.
Make important contacts in the political world
As anyone who keeps of track of national news knows, the nation’s political engines are already revving up for the 2008 election. Political action groups dedicated to changing or keeping the balance of red and blue power in the United States are advertising on Internet job sites in droves all over the country. Entry level jobs may include door-to-door canvassing and envelope stuffing, but dedicated workers can rise to positions involving state- or nation-wide coordination of efforts, planning rallies and information campaigns (press releases, Internet blogs, print, TV and radio advertising), arranging personal appearances for candidates, and more. Entry level here doesn’t pay much (about $24,000) but chances to “strut your stuff” on the job and make important contacts in the political world might make the low salary worthwhile in the long run.
Newspapers, especially those that are overtly connected with a specific political outlook, need reporters and columnists to write about news events from their particular point of view. Again, this does not pay much money, but offers excellent practice in a summarizing and communicating information in a precise way. Such a job could be preparation for a career as a press secretary for an officeholder, agency of private organization.
Make extra effort to take courses of other languages
Many political jobs in foreign affairs go begging for want of individuals with skills not only in political science, but in language. European languages are good, but Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and other Eastern and Asian tongues are more and more in demand. Making the extra effort to take courses in these areas can net benefits in both job satisfaction and money. (A government job site lists the starting salary for a foreign affairs officer at $54,272.) Read more about your career in political science by clicking here.
Of course, there are also the challenges and rewards of teaching. Individual states and schools have different educational and professional requirements, but the main prerequisite is that you like it. Those who go into teaching for want of anything better do themselves and their students a disservice. Teaching is for those who can’t wait to share their subject, not those who wish they were doing something else.
Most important of all, don’t limit yourself! Very few employment sites have a listing of political scientist. But there are still plenty of occupations in which you can use political science skills. All it takes is an open mind and a little research.