There are so many ways to access careers related to policy and politics.
The Industry Showcase held on February 27th at CCE and hosted in collaboration with the Columbia Journal of Politics and Society, Columbia University Women in Law and Politics, Political Science Students Association, and the Center for Career Education, offered insight into these opportunities along with excellent advice for success.
The organizations represented included:
- American Enterprise Institute
- Bronx Community Board 6
- Global Health Strategies
- Government Executive
- National Committee on American Foreign Affairs
- National Journal
- NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
- The Brennan Center
- World Policy Institute.
From think tanks to consulting firms to government agencies, the rich experience of our panelists allowed for excellent discussion and valuable information sharing with students.
There is no such thing as a typical work day
All panelists agreed that in their organizations, everyone is required to wear many hats and there is no ‘typical’ day. People need to be flexible, pitch in where needed, take work up without being asked and genuinely believe in the work of the organization.
Soft and technical skills are critical
Many of our panelists profusely expressed the need for strong communication skills in this industry. Good writing and interpersonal skills can help students land opportunities. In addition, data analytics is becoming increasingly important. The ability to gather, evaluate and share quantitative and qualitative information is highly desired in candidates.
You can begin preparing for your career now
Build SKills in measuring impact
Daniel at the NYC Mayor’s Office shared that students may want to “take economics and statistics; it can be a language for understanding what impact policy has.” He stated that understanding policy’s impact can make your work more meaningful and in turn allow you to be more successful.
Work on campaigns
He suggested students interested in government intern and volunteer in different offices and agencies from local to state to federal. Daniel also advised students to work on a campaign or for a politician since understanding social services from the ground up is essential for a future career in government.
Afzal at the National Journal acknowledged that career paths do not need to be linear. He emphasized that students should try things out through internships and in order to figure where their interests lie.
A graduate degree is not required…at least not yet
All panelists agreed that you can and should take time to know what you want to do before jumping into a graduate program. Once you start, its a huge commitment of both time and money.
Francesca from Global Health Strategies acknowledged that she started her program 5 years after undergrad and wound up in a program she would never have imagined. She described herself as being lucky to now work on issues she is so passionate about.
At think tanks, often the scholars and project leaders have earned PhDs but these are not the only career paths in the organization.
Start Gaining Experience today
While some of the organizations indicated the deadline for summer 2018 applications has passed, others are still rolling in.
It is important to keep an eye on organization websites to know when positions become available and the requirements for each.
Check out other ways to connect to careers in policy and politics.