How to Start a Career in Politics
Starting a career in politics can be very challenging because it is a field where you have to be in the constant service of others. You don’t necessarily have to be a politician before you can make a career in politics, it entails so much more and the career is broader for you to make a choice. Whether you want to run for an office, manage political campaigns, or in any aspect you find yourself, politics requires a lot of competition and high energy.
A political expert must have strong communication and networking skill. Most especially, communication, because political processes involve speaking and making your opinions heard by people, therefore you must be a skilled communicator who understands the policy of the government of the day.
6 Ways to Start a Career in Politics
To start a career in politics, as a politician, campaign manager, or advocate for a special cause, you need to be well informed about the government policies both at the national and local levels of governance. If you want to start a career in politics, below are outlined some of the ways to go about it.
- Get a degree: although this may not be a necessity getting a degree would definitely put you on an edge in the political world. Although, there are no specific bachelor degrees for starting a career in politics degrees such as law, education, business, and so on can really put you on the right path for your future career.
- Volunteer on any political campaign: volunteering on any campaign on politics would also help you to know what the political field is all about. You can start as little as making phone calls on your party behalf, advocating for votes by going door to door, and so on. It may not be a big campaign but been in it would give you an insight into how political campaigns are managed.
- Join a nonprofit organization: nonprofit organizations generally focus on a specific cause and so volunteering with any organizations would provide you the necessary support you need when you want to campaign for a public position.
- Become visible in your local community: if you want to really have a career in politics, you can start by becoming visible in the activities of your local community by participating in different areas. On election days, you can volunteer at polling stations, register voters and so other small tasks. Doing all these makes you stand out and have an insight into how politics is done in your locality or area.
- Be relevant in happenings around you: you can stay relevant by updating yourself with the latest news articles. You should also learn how to network with people because, in politics, you would need to know people so you can try to keep contacts you make for future political purposes.
- Get a job related to politics: if you want to venture into the political world, you can get a paid job in any political office, it could even be an internship it is still a good head start for your career. If you want to throw yourself into the arms of politics, you can decide to run for an office yourself. You can start from as low as your constituent or local area and drive your way up the political ladder.
Top 10 Career Paths in Politics
A political career is very broad and opens a wide range of other careers underneath the political career. Other career paths in politics may include but not limited to; journalism, political researcher, marketing, and so on. Here are explained so of the career paths in politics you may want to give a try if you don’t want to run for a political office.
- Internship or political volunteer: getting a job as an intern or even a volunteer may not be what you want but it is a good start for your career in politics. You can volunteer in a nonprofit organization or at a political campaign rally. Political interns and volunteers. If you are a college student or a fresh graduate looking for a way to start a career in politics, you should volunteer as often as you can. In doing this, you shouldn’t expect to be paid or you might be lucky to get a small stipend but what should be your best bet here is the experience you would get.
- Legislative assistant: a legislative staff works directly with the communications administration or a legislator. A legislative assistant may focus on doing different researches for the legislator they work for. Their job description includes; writing and researching legislation, solving issues, and tracking bills as they proceed through the legislative process. Legislative assistants can also help to answer the phone, schedule appointments, meetings, organize calendars, and logistics too.
- Policy Analyst: these sets of professionals work for the government specifically. They are the people who created and know all the details associated with the proposed policy. Policy analysts work to identify, create, and implement different government policies. Research and analysis are important ingredients associated with their job description. Other job description includes; conducting research, surveying data, analyzing existing and proposed policies, and reporting information. Policy analysts can work either in a specific area of expertise or be more of a generalist working on multiple areas.
- Communications Coordinator: these professionals work for political candidates, legislators, and different profit or nonprofit organizations all of which are involved in various political processes. The job description here includes; managing political and legislative communications, writing speeches, coordinating press newsletters, coordinating media relations, updating social media, and implementing communications strategies.
- Pollster: Political pollsters are the people who measure the effectiveness of a campaign and what voters think about candidates and issues. Pollsters are all about data gathering information in a variety of ways, evaluating responses, analyzing and organizing data, doing statistical analysis, and presenting the results in a comprehensive format. Pollsters can work directly for a candidate or legislator or work on a consulting or freelance basis. If you are interested in the numbers and how they can influence voters, consider pursuing a career as a political pollster.
- Lobbyist: lobbyists are mostly retired politicians or those with vast skills in the political area. Lobbying can be said to be the most challenging career path of politics. To be a good lobbyist, you must have excellent persuasive and communication skills, a lobbying job provides the opportunity to spend your entire time contacting elected officials to get them to vote favorably on your candidate or to oppose legislation that isn’t in your organization’s best interests. Lobbyists can work independently with clients, for a lobbying or law firm, or for an organization or business that has a vested interest in legislative outcomes.
- Campaign Manager: The campaign manager is generally the champion of the campaign program. The campaign manager manages and oversees the details of all the campaign process. Campaign managers on a broader level develop, plan, and implement resources in a political campaign. A campaign manager’s responsibilities and duties may and not limited to; hiring and managing staff, budgeting, logistics, and technology, to getting out the vote.
- Political Consultant: political consulting involves working on campaigns of the political candidate running for a public office. The political consultant helps any politician whether at the local or national level to see to the smooth running of their campaign, planning strategy, fundraising, and other aspects of running a successful campaign. If you have the right skills as a political consultant, it would be a great advantage for your career path in politics.
- Media Strategist: these set of people are an essential part of any successful political campaign. They help political candidates promote themselves and assist with handling issues that arise during the course of their campaign process. As a Media strategist, your job description includes; planning, implementing, and presenting documents in-person and social media campaigns to promote their boss which is the political candidate. A political media strategist may be responsible for organizing campaign events, liaison with the press, handle media relations, prepare the candidate for interviews, political debates and also oversee the creation and production of other things politically related.
- Chief of Staff: chief of staff is like the right-hand man of a political candidate. He or she is responsible for the daily activities of the candidate. The job description of the chief of staff includes; overseeing the hiring processes of the management team of the political party, he or she also oversees office management, budgeting, administration, and another day to day operations, of anything political related to the job. All other employees report back to this chief of staff either directly or indirectly.
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Skills Needed in Politics
A career in politics is very intriguing and would entail you to give it you’re all. To be able to function adequately in this field, there are some necessary skills which you need to possess to be a good political agent. These skills are necessary whether you want to run for office or follow other career paths in politics.
- Communication skills; written and verbal
- Intellectual independence and autonomy
- Teamwork skills
- A flexible and open-minded approach to work.
- Research and coordinating skills.
In conclusion, Politics is a very challenging field that requires patience and hard work in order for you to thrive. Although politics do not require so many academic degrees or certificates, it is still to your best advantage to get a degree in relevant fields to have a good head start. The career path is very broad in politics and as such creates good opportunities for future prospects.