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What you can do with a Degree in Political Science?

Studying political science can open up a wide range of job opportunities ranging from the public sector to the private sector and in some cases to even becoming an entrepreneur. You will gain important skills such as:

  • the ability to thoroughly complete tasks with keen attention to detail and preciseness;
  • a greater understanding of interpreting facts
  • interacting with diverse communities;
  • stronger written and oral communications;
  • an ability arrive at decisions based on the analysis and synthesis of large pools of information and gathering huge sums of data; and,
  • applying effective, executable techniques in order to get the job done well.

These are just some of the marketable skills you will develop. Political Science students graduating from Canadian universities tend to go on to get their first jobs in areas such as:

  • Administrative and Regulatory Occupations;
  • Computer and Information Systems;
  • School Teachers and Counsellors;
  • Technical Inspectors and Regulatory Officers; and,
  • Writing, Translating and Public Relations

Below is a list of some of the many jobs that you might eventually pursue with a degree in Political Science, sometimes after further studies.

Campaign Operative

A career path perfect for a graduate who thrives on the chase for victory and works exceptionally well under pressure, as this job focuses on you helping to win elections. Some of the divided areas of your focus will include: press and public relations, polling, opposition research, fundraising, logistical organizing, and a wide range of other skills to deal with the crises of a campaign. Your tact and technical skills are extremely important in this career. Pollsters and researchers will do most of the behind the scenes work, while press and public relations officers and those determined to rise to the top of the field will get a lot of air time. So a developed comfort with the media may come in handy. Skills earned here will come in hand if one ever decides to pursue law, journalism, running one’s own campaign or working on the administration of your successful candidates.

Getting there: Volunteering during your summer breaks with political campaigns is a prescribed way of getting involved in this field. Skills practiced during your years of studying Political Science will come in handy if you are required to handle press releases or dealing with any forms of written media. While not essential for success, consideration of graduate Political Science studies, may adequately prepare you for the challenges you will face each day.

Consultant

As a consultant in your chosen are of expertise you are constantly being asked your opinion on various issues. Being self employed is very popular in this industry but some seek to join firms who focus on big corporations to improve their structure, efficiency and profits by way of strategic analysis. Job hours and pay will vary from job to job and the more effective and well established consultants are often put on retainer to see their ideas through. No matter the job, consultants collect, review, analyze information, and make recommendations to management. Consultants report their findings in writing, but oral presentations are also common. Therefore, consultants must have strong communication skills. Consultants need to be self-motivated and disciplined with strong analytical skills, the ability to get along with a wide range of people, good judgment and creativity. Stress levels also tend to rise as deadlines approach; hence time management skills are a necessity. Because of the skills needed to be a consultant, many become project managers, business managers, operations research analysts, economists, and financial analysts.

Getting there: Your clients are usually looking for someone with a Master’s Degree or higher, someone with fresh ideas, a lot of experience and knowledgeable in many areas. Most consulting agencies require experience in the field before employment, which will also come in handy if thinking of working on your own.

Diplomat

Diplomacy defined is the management of relations between nations, also the art of negotiating alliances, treaties, and agreements, with great agility in securing your own nations advantage. When the root word to ones job title bears so much power in definition only, can you imagine the great deal of power you will actually be entrusted with. Be prepared to be called upon at a moment’s notice to attend a conference in New York, or sometimes as far away as Brunei. You will be required to represent your country across the world as you try to negotiate with local governments, applying tact and subtle skill, in order to successfully promote your government. Whether they are treaties of peace, or trade agreements that will serve to benefit both countries immensely. As an ambassador of your country you are always expected to be a model citizen of the world. Fluency in a foreign language is often integral to your success as a diplomat. Diplomats who do not work until retirement would usually go on to work with other aspects of the government, become entrepreneurs or university professors.

Getting there: With less than 100 positions to fill throughout Canada, competition for posts in the Foreign Services can get quite stiff. There is no specific route to follow, however upon successful completion of your B.A. an examination is held in Ottawa to decide whether or not you may be considered. Your readiness to accept assignments all over the world is also a major deciding factor. Being bilingual is a must; but if you are not, language training is provided. It is advised that you check with the Public Service Commission to see if there is anything specific that will be required of you.

Journalist

From freelance writing to newspaper editing to book reviewers to local and international correspondences, it can be tricky to specify the area of journalism one will end up in. However the skills honed over the years as a political scientist will be most useful. Producing top quality work in usually half the time will need to be a driving force that enables the future journalist to be the best. Also it will be important for one to be able to watch as their work is sometimes slashed to pieces by their editors. Being called on at any point in time may be intimidating to some future journalist but those who are in it for the long run get an added boost of adrenaline, waiting on their next assignment. Some journalists may leave the communications market but due to their experience often enter employment fields such as editors, professors, researchers, and analysts.

Getting there: Starting out as a writer is an excellent way of perfecting your craft in writing, so is writing for college or neighbourhood newsletters. Excellent written skills are a must, and can be refined over time. Along with your Bachelor’s Degree, some familiarity with a foreign language will be useful. Your desire to tell real stories, and make them interesting to the everyday man is also a key component to your success in this field.

Labour Relations Specialist

Your ability to act as a loadstone for others’ discontent is crucial to successful negotiations; the main characteristic of this job is to mediate and parley between employees and the employers. You will negotiate compensation rates, benefits, working conditions, and rates of advancement. Specialists in the field will tell you that if you’re doing your job correctly, no one will like you, but in the end every one is happy with the deal. Those who excel are often creative finding ways to satisfy the needs and wants of one group and still not crushing those of the others, though these idealistic win/win situations are frequently undiscovered. The labour relations specialist, who is innovative, will incorporate the use of both sides in order to arrive at an agreeable decision. They must be skilled at seeing both details of the specific negotiations and the larger context into which these negotiations must be placed. Extensive research is normally done and will consume most of your time keeping face to face table meetings at minimum for day to day operations. Developing a specific interest is critical if one plans on branching off from this career. Pursuable interests often lie in industrial relations or the specialist may become authors, lecturers or teachers. A number go into government service and a large portion who are attorneys return to practice in labour litigation on either the managers’ or workers’ side.

Getting there: An M.B.A., legal training, first hand experience or apprenticeships. The credentials necessary for success in this field is often debated and the choice is ultimately up to you. However your aim should definitely be to make yourself the top candidate for employment and a combination of those criteria would be ideal. Dedication to climbing the industry ladder is crucial as entry level jobs, though competitive are often not so glamorous.

Lawyer

Intellectually fascinating and challenging are just two terms to describe the day to day life of a working attorney. Counselling your client on matters pertaining to the law may excite you like nothing else has done in the past. Sometimes your work takes on a life of its own seeking fourteen or eighteen hour long day commitments, however the financial reward is often too enticing to pass up. Considered as a snake or a vermin by most outside of the profession and by even some of your colleagues, lawyers take passion in their ability to persuade people to see things as how they see it. Not all those who practice law end up defending criminals in heated, publicized cases, or representing the hippest celebrity as they argue their latest DUI arrest, some lawyers handle corporate law or real estate law. Those considering entering this field should have solid work habits, a curious mind, and the ability to work with, and for, others. Rising above your peers to make partner is usually the main ambition of any lawyer, but be prepared for years as a subordinate. Lawyers enter business, accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, and academia after being in the profession a number of years. Some become judges and many enter politics.

Getting there: Securing a place in an accredited law school should be your major concern. During law school you will take a range of classes and should by its completion have an idea of your area of specialty. Spending summers working with law firms is a great way to get familiarized with a lawyer’s lifestyle and possible employers. Passing the Bar exam is your final step to calling yourself a lawyer.

Lobbyist

If you think you have mastered the art of persuasion then this job may be perfect for you. On a daily basis, the lobbyist will be trying to change the opinions of politicians and the general public in favour of his own opinions. The lobbyist will have to collate information, using charts, polls, statistics, and reports and present them to the politician or the public to persuade them to their side of the fence. It is often information that the politician or the public would not have had access to. Lobbyists may be required to mainstream work, like hosting fundraisers, making public appearances or be propelled into our homes by the media, just to get his point across. Not all lobbyists are glamorous, the ‘grassroots’ lobbyists seek no critical acclaim and take the less ‘blingy’, more indirect approach. They would get the community and those who will be directly affected by whatever change made involved. Letters, petitions and phone calls would be the means of persuasion the ‘grassroots’ lobbyist would use. They may also appear on special interest talk shows and write letters to editors or newspaper articles to raise awareness of their platforms. This is a great career to build a foundation for public relations, advertising, journalism, and teaching. The lobbyist works with legislators and aides, both of which are career options for former lobbyists, with their inside knowledge of the political system.

Getting there: As a student, seeking governmental based internships as aides to elected officials or with accredited lobbying firms is great for getting experience with the issues you will be challenging and the various legislative bodies that will be in constant interaction with. Upon graduation seeking employment with some of these firms present you with the advantages of familiarity and experience, but now you are able to take more hands on approaches to handling your cases. Lobbying is not all about what you are fighting for, but in most cases, of who you know. Networking is essential to get the necessary attention that you ideas will require.

Political Scientist

These individuals concern themselves with the structure and function of the government and society and seek theoretical and practical ways of answering demanding and relevant political problems. Most political scientists often work as professors in universities where they conduct their research in hopes of publishing text books, writing newspaper columns or journals addressing various issues in their field. While some political scientists may one day run for office, most are sought out as experts to help coordinate a successful campaign. Being objective is a great asset to have as a Political Scientist as you are sometimes asked to put your personal prejudices aside in order to develop accurate and unbiased solutions to political issues. Intensive studying of history, past research papers and other data is integral when a Political Scientist is hoping to trace a problem back to its roots in aims of finding a solution or when hoping to develop new theories. Political Scientists often become Political Commentators or Public Opinion Pollsters. Some may also choose to enter law school.

Getting there: Job descriptions seeking Political Scientist will most certainly require a Master’s Degree. However, if the classroom is your preference then a PhD will also be needed. Public administration, international relations or law are some of the fields that Political Scientists usually seek to specialize in, as experience, knowledge, and a specialty will not only make you a more desirable candidate for employment but also incredible salary options. Working in think tanks and public opinion research organizations are ways to get the necessary experience.

Politician

Not a job for the shy as at all levels a politician is expected to be a public figure. You will have a say in many issues that should serve to benefit the people. You will be required to make decisions that will affect people on local, regional and national levels. Your excellent negotiation and public presentation skills are often greatly rewarded as a politician. If you wish, being a part-time politician may also be complementary to your full time employment as you can serve on local committee boards. Whether it be your own small town politics, or politics at the highest level some form of scrutiny is unavoidable. An unprecedented track record will prove favourable when reelection comes up. Full time politicians are lawyers so upon leaving the public arena, some politicians return to practicing law or open their own firms. Some seek employment as consultants to various government offices, offering their knowledge and expertise for sizable financial gains.

Getting there: There is no defined outline to follow on the fast track to becoming a politician. What will help is doing volunteer work with a recognized politician or a low level job with a political party and working your way up. Lawyers find it easy to convert to politicians as they are familiar with the practices and governmental policies that they themselves would like to see amended.

University Professor

Professors spend the majority of their time conducting research, conducting large undergraduate lectures and writing textbooks. Class time can range from three hours a week with graduate students, or up to sixteen hours a week for undergraduate classes, but still most of your time will be spent doing research. Receiving tenure is the goal of most professors, as tenure brings with it some financial highlights and job security. However, in the early years working towards tenure is the most pressuring as some professors struggle to publish a body of work that will secure them in their job. Tenure nowadays is not the same as it used to be, as tenured professors are evaluated and those found lagging in teaching and independent scholarship may be at risk. Though physically and mentally taxing, the professor experiences intellectual stimulation and has sufficient freedom. Due to the varying specializations university professors go on to do different things: economists consult with governments and corporations; engineers and academic labs develop products for private industry; humanities professors write articles which appear in newspapers and magazines. Many find this ability to work professionally on terms they define, while remaining in their institutions, to be among the most satisfying aspects of the profession. Teachers often get the chance to climb up their institutional ladder and become professors.

Getting there: To teach at any post secondary institution it is necessary to posses a PhD. As a graduate student, working on completing your PhD you may have the chance of teaching some undergraduate classes or assisting a professor with his course load. This gives you some hands on experience to help you analyze if this career path suits you. During your studies you are also required to complete a dissertation – an original piece of research taking about three years to finish. This is your first bargaining tool needed for your job hunt. Some people do post doctoral studies which will only make you more desirous to your employer.

Other related opportunities your political science studies may help prepare you for include:

Business
- Actuary
- Entrepreneur
- Investment Analyst
- Public Opinion Analyst
- Researcher

Communications

- Broadcaster
- Press Secretary
- Public Relations Specialist

Government

- Human Resources Specialist
- Legislative Analyst
- Manager
- Ministerial Assistant
- Public Policy Analyst
- Regulatory Officer
- Technical Inspector
- Urban Policy Planner
Education
- Advisor
- Career Counsellor
- Teacher

Law

- Judge
- Justice Specialist

Media
:
- Editor
- Political Reporter
- Publisher
- Web Developer/Producer

Politics
- Activist (Advocate/Organizer)
- Intelligence Officer
- Political Commentator
- Political Party Member
- Strategist

Information on these pages was collected from the following websites:

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