Obviously the pay isn’t good, or there might not be any at all, but volunteering for a campaign or an issues-oriented non-profit organization can be a great political career starter. If you’re a college student considering politics as a career, volunteer and intern as often as you can.
You’ll probably start out doing on the ground and in the office grunt work, but you’ll gain invaluable experience and a good picture of what career options are available if you stick with it. Don’t expect to get paid, though you may get a small salary or stipend to cover expenses. Here’s how to volunteer to enhance your career and tips for finding an internship.
Legislative staff can work directly on legislation or help a legislator with communications or administration. A legislative assistant or aide may focus on one topic area like gun control or immigration, for example, or research many different issues for the legislator they work for. The job includes writing and researching legislation, briefing the boss on the issues, and bill tracking as legislation proceeds through the legislative process.
Communication Aides are a liaison with constituents, reading mail, answering questions and providing information over the phone or by mail or email. Administrative staff members answer the phone, schedule appointments and meetings, organize calendars and logistics, and coordinate travel.
This entry level job is a good starting point for a college graduate who wants to make a career out of politics.
Policy analysts work for the government, legislators or candidates. They are the people who know all the details about an existing or proposed policy. Policy analysts work to identify, create and implement policies and programs. Research and analysis are important components of this job.
The job description includes conducting research, surveying data, analyzing existing and proposed policies, and reporting information. Policy analysts can have a specific area of expertise, or be more of a generalist working on multiple issues. If you’re a detail-oriented person who can write, this is a solid job with good growth opportunities.
Communications coordinators work for candidates, legislators and organizations involved in the political process. The job involves managing political and legislative communications, writing, editing and speaking, speech writing, writing press releases and newsletters, media relations, campaign and event communications, social media, and implementing communications strategies.
If you’re a people person who loves to get the word out this would be a great job for you. Check out the top 10 communication skills that will help you get hired.
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’re mesmerized by the numbers and how they can influence voters, consider a career as a pollster.
Top lobbyists are often retired politicians, but there are many other career paths for those interesting in lobbying. If you have excellent persuasive and communication skills, a lobbying job provides the opportunity to spend your day (and often evenings and weekends) contacting elected officials to get them to vote favorably on your issue 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.
The campaign manager is the big shot on the campaign trail, whether it’s working for a small local candidate or on a presidential campaign. Campaign managers organize and oversee all the details involved in managing a successful campaign.
On a broad level, they develop, plan and implement a political campaign. A campaign manager’s responsibilities can include everything from hiring and managing staff, budgeting, logistics, and technology, to getting out the vote.
Political consulting involves working on campaigns of those running for public office. All levels of politicians, whether on a local or national scale, need help with planning strategy, fundraising, voter outreach, and other aspects of running a campaign.
This is a general job title that covers a variety of different roles, depending on the consultant’s skills and areas of expertise. You’ll need to have the right experience to land a consulting gig, so many consultants start out working on a campaign, for a legislator, or for the government.
Media strategists are an essential component of a successful campaign for elected office. They help candidates promote themselves and assist with handling issues that arise during the course of a campaign. Media strategists are responsible for planning, implementing and presenting in-person, print, television, radio, online and social media campaigns to promote the candidate.
A political media strategist may organize campaign events, liaison with the press, handle media relations, prepare a candidate for interviews, oversee the creation and production of advertising, and plan ad buys.
10Chief of Staff
The candidate or legislator’s right-hand person is his or her chief of staff. Think about Doug Stamper, Frank Underwood’s chief of staff in House of Cards to get an idea of how important this role can be. This is the most important job in the office, and the chief of staff oversees hiring, office management, budgeting, administration and operations, and is the top advisor on everything political.
All office functions and most staff reporting in a legislator’s office are through the chief of staff who reports directly to the legislator. If your long-term career goal is to earn a spot as a chief of staff, you’ll need to work your way up the career ladder gaining plenty of legislative experience along the way.
11How to Get Hired for a Political Job
If you've decided that politics is for you, or if you're already on a political career track, here are resources for finding and getting hired for a job in politics.
10 Great Jobs in Politics
Are you a political junkie? Are you interested in politics, but don’t have the slightest interest in becoming a politician? As election cycles get longer and longer, opportunities abound for those interested in a career in the political arena. You may work a lot of hours and it can be high stress, especially at election time, but a political job can give you a wealth of experience you will be able to use in the future.
Before you starting thinking about a job in politics, consider your values and ethics. Could you work for a candidate or politician you don’t believe in? That would be hard, and most people who work in politics work on issues and for people they support. If you have a candidate you’d love to see elected or a hot button issue you’re concerned about, you can apply directly to like-minded campaigns or organizations.
There are many different jobs in politics beyond working on a campaign, including working on legislation, public relations and media relations positions, political strategists, campaign managers and consultants, pollsters and political consultants, administrators and more. Jobs are available at the local, state and national level, and salaries vary accordingly based on the type of job and who you’re working for.
Review these 10 good jobs in politics that you don’t need to be elected to get.