Last summer, my family was in a bit of a scramble. My brother was about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science, but despite his every effort, he did not have a job lined up yet. We called everyone we could think of, seeing if we could at least get him an interview, but it was a little more difficult than we anticipated. This is a common situation for graduates of all degrees, and not just political science majors. If you are facing something similar, you are not alone. You may have the grades, the recommendations and the drive to get a terrific job, but the combination of competition, and the lack of a diploma (for the time being) really seem to stand in your way.
I am happy to say that after two or three weeks of important interviews, my brother did land a job as a staffer for his local representative. He loves his job, he is paid fairly, he finds the work interesting, and he enjoys every government holiday you could think of (not bad for a guy in his early 20s). While he ended up with a rather direct transition from his college major to his career, remember that there is a wide variety of options open to political science majors. Your exposure to interdisciplinary courses, and the versatile nature of your major make you uniquely suited to try for a number of different jobs. Such as…
Interning has become more of the norm in recent years. While this may be less than ideal sometimes (especially if the position in unpaid), it does offer you the unique opportunity to get immersed in a career before committing to it. Because intern positions are often part time, they are popular among political science majors who are still in school. This offers you the chance to get your name and face recognized in the business of your choice, long before you ever interview for an exciting job in the same field.
Often, interns are among the first candidates considered when full time, paid positions do open up. After all, you will be uniquely suited to working with that specific team, in that specific office, and everyone involved already knows that you are committed. This is definitely “step one” of a longer term plan, but an important one to consider nonetheless.
Both United States Representatives and United States Senators are in need of personal staff members. Typically, each member of congress will have 12 or more people working directly with them. Project management skills go a long way, as these jobs are often team oriented, and involve lots of constituent outreach. As mentioned before, many congressmen and congresswomen will take on interns as well, which can sometimes nicely glide into full time positions later.
These opportunities may not be as prevalent as other jobs, but if you can get in with a member of congress at a local level, that may translate into jobs as committee staff, or even leadership staff. Of course, if you hope to one day run for political office yourself, working as a staffer is an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of the everyday work expected of you.
With all of your political knowledge and exposure, you are uniquely qualified to both comment and report on the matter. If you feel you are a strong writer, and can be objective regardless of the subject matter, you could pursue a career as a political reporter. Having a political science degree, you have more insight into what kinds of questions to ask to elicit the best and most meaningful answers from those you interview. At the same time, you may be able to see the far reaching consequences of political events in the news now, and can comment on what they may mean in the future.
There are many periodicals and websites which cater specifically to political topics, but even small, local newspapers are often in need of dedicated political reporters. Of course, there is always the option of starting your own blog or website as well.
Politics and history are intertwined, and if the historical aspect of political science fascinates you, you might love a career as an archivist or curator of historical materials. Personally, I happen to live in an area of the United States with a lot of colonial history. It seems like there are buildings everywhere with historical significance, and places like that need experts to run them. Historical records must to be treated with the utmost care. These are one of a kind documents and objects, and understanding their significance is only part of what an archivist does. Making these records available so that they may be perused and researched by the public is another job aspect.
Organizing tours, displays and special events may end up being part of your job description too. In essence, you are bridging the gap between yesterday and today, and making sure this information is not lost along the way.
Love the idea of being a detective? Political science majors often find jobs as intelligence agents, helping to maintain national security. On a basic level, what intelligence agents do is to procure information, and assess its threat level. This is a growing field in need of all manner of experts. When trying to prevent crime before it happens, intelligence agents need to be proficient in areas such as technology, world politics, foreign languages, criminology and psychology. Often many agents with different specialties work together on teams. Each member offers their own expertise to help maintain national security. In this modern world, there are more threats, but there are also more opportunities to stop criminals before they can start. The practices put into use today allow intelligence agents to intercept information, make sense of it, and take or recommend appropriate action. It is an exciting field, and political science majors would fit right in.