Political WorkThere is a wide range of careers in politics that could be a good fit for postacademics who enjoy a dynamic work environment and the idea of public service. The following are a few that postacademics would be especially qualified for.
Working on political campaigns can be intense and unpredictable, but getting your candidate elected or ballot item passed can be exhilerating. If you enjoy politics and want to become more involved in the nuts and bolts, you might try volunteering for a campaign to see if political work suits you.
Academics possess several skills that are needed in campaign work.
• Training volunteers
• Writing press releases, web content, speeches, other documents
• Speaking in public
• Quantitatively analyzing progress on campaign goals
• Analyzing problems and recommending actions
A typical career trajectory in campaigning is from volunteer to staffer to manager. Politicians often promote campaign workers to full-time positions once they are in office, so this could be a path into a career in government. Alternatively, people who enjoy the thrill of campaign work could become political consultants or move up to bigger and more visible campaigns.
About 40% of political consultants have graduate degrees. Consultants have usually worked their way up after years of experience working for campaigns or in other roles for politicians. The industry has exploded in recent years because of the arms race required by political contests, even at the local level.
American Association of Political Consultants
American Political Science Association
Pollsters conduct opinion polls for politicians and private sector clients. Their work is specialized and in growing demand, so pollsters are paid quite well. Experience in survey design and statistical analysis is crucial for these jobs.
National Council on Public Polls
American Assocation for Public Opinion Research
American Statistical Organization
- Volunteer with a poltical candidate's campaign, a political party, or special interest group
- Gain experiences in working with the public, particularly public speaking, organizing, or conducting surveys
- Hone your knowledge of current events and policy issues
- Search Vault's Career Insider database for "A Day in the Life: Communications Director/Press Secretary" or "A Day in the Life: Legislative Correspondent" via LACS's BTT Gateway
Print and Online Resources
Axelrod-Contrada, Joan. Career Opportunities in Politics, Government, and Activism. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Facts on File, 2008. Print.