Politics is one of the most common degrees, with courses on offer at most universities across the country. It provides you with a broad skill set that allows you to go into a variety of different sectors post-graduation. This includes government, journalism, marketing and many more. Work is a great way to get some experience in the field and discover what exactly you want to get into in your career. Whether you’re looking for something to help your personal statement or you’re looking for something to kickstart your career, this article has got you covered. So, this article is going to answer the question: how can you get work experience in politics?
What can you do with a politics degree?
So, the first main question: what can you do with a politics degree? Well, the simple answer is a lot. It equips you with a wide range of skills, including analytical skills, leadership skills and communication skills. You can find out more about what you’ll learn in our guide to studying politics.
This means you can go into a wide range of careers. Some are more related to the degree, like civil service, policy officers and local government. But, if you want to do something a little different, you could head into marketing, business, journalism, PR, academia, research, and more. Basically, you can do pretty much anything with a politics degree. So, how and where can you get work experience in politics?
Ways to get work experience in politics
There are lots of different avenues to explore. So if you’re not sure exactly what area to build a career in, it can be useful to try your hand at different types of work experiences in politics. Some are easier to get into, while others require more commitment. But asking around and considering your options is a good place to start. The more you’re able to do, the better off your career chances will be after too.
1. Starting with university activities
University years offer a fertile ground for budding political interests. Joining political clubs and societies is a fantastic way to start. These groups provide a platform for discussing political ideas, understanding different viewpoints, and getting involved in various activities that mirror real-world politics. They are also excellent for building initial networks with like-minded individuals who share your political interests.
Participating in student government and debates is another crucial step. These activities not only hone your debating and legislative skills but also give you a taste of real political processes and decision-making. They simulate the challenges and triumphs of politics, preparing you for future roles in the field.
2. Volunteering and internships
Volunteering for local political campaigns or parties is a vital part of gaining practical experience. It offers a hands-on understanding of the grassroots level of politics, an area crucial for any political career. Volunteering can range from campaign management to community outreach, providing a broad spectrum of experiences.
Securing internships in political offices or organisations is equally important. These internships can be found through university career services, political party websites, or direct contact with political offices. When applying, tailor your resume to highlight relevant skills and express your passion for politics.
To make the most out of these experiences, be proactive. Take initiative, seek responsibilities, and don’t shy away from challenging tasks. These experiences are as enriching as you make them, offering invaluable insights into the workings of political systems.
3. Building a network
Attending political events and conferences is a key strategy for networking. These events are opportunities to meet professionals and peers in the field, offering a chance to learn from their experiences and get advice. Networking can open doors to future job opportunities and collaborations.
Connecting with professionals and peers in the field is about building lasting relationships. Engage in meaningful conversations, follow up with contacts, and be open to learning from others. Remember, your network can be one of your most significant assets in your political career.
4. Gaining related experience outside of politics
Exploring opportunities in fields related to politics, such as public relations, journalism, or social research, can be incredibly beneficial. These fields offer skills and perspectives that are highly valuable in politics. For instance, PR teaches you how to communicate effectively, journalism hones your investigative and analytical skills, and social research provides insights into societal trends and issues.
Diverse experiences contribute to a well-rounded political career. They not only enrich your understanding of the world but also provide a unique skill set that can set you apart in the political arena. Embrace opportunities outside traditional political pathways as they can offer unexpected and valuable lessons for your future career.
Where to get work experience in politics
From working with local parties to finding an organisation near you, you’ll be able to find politics work experience pretty much anywhere. You might need to interview or show some background knowledge of the company, as well as demonstrate why you’d be an asset as a volunteer. But above all, it’s thinking about how the work experience might help you reach your career goals. If you’re not sure where to get work experience in politics, our list covers the different places to find work experience in politics, where you might learn about campaigning, legal rights, and more.
1. Local political parties
A good place to start if you’re looking for work experience in politics. Volunteering with your local political party is a great way to earn on-the-ground experience and start to build a network of contacts that could help you find a job in the future. Typically, local parties will rely on volunteers to help with canvassing, leafleting and various administrative roles. The way to get involved with your local party depends on party and location, but from experience, it is very easy to get involved.
2. National organisations
Additionally, there are many charities, organisations and companies in the field of politics with work experience on offer. For example, you could volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau to help members of the public resolve various issues or get involved in research or campaigning. If you’re interested in the economics side of things, the Adam Smith Institute has a number of internships specialising in the free market and social policy. Similarly, if you’re interested in research, Civitas has a number of paid and voluntary internships for graduates interested in research experience. Of course, these are not the only companies with work experience. A good place to start is your uni’s careers service.
3. House of Commons
Arguably the best way to get work experience in politics is to do it in the literal government. The House of Commons offers a variety of work experience opportunities that give you the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of government firsthand. As I’m sure you can assume, the scheme is very competitive with a large number of applicants. So, if this is something you’d like to do, the sooner you apply, the better.
4. Student union
A great option to get work experience in politics while at uni is to work in your student union. While it’s not the same as working for an outside company, you’ll still get many of the same experiences and skills. For instance, you’ll get experience of standing as a candidate and running an election campaign. In office, the main goal of the student union is to represent the student body and work towards positive change in the university. These are all useful skills that can transfer into a future career in politics.
So if you’re wondering how do you get work experience in politics, there are lots of different options out there to choose from. Thanks to the broad nature of politics, you can get work experience in a variety of different sectors. No one route is better than the other either, as they all contribute to skill development and getting your foot in the door. So, no matter if you want to go into government or work in a different sector, it’s generally quite easy to find work experience in politics. Start with reaching out.
If you’ve not yet found the university you want to study at, you might find our list of the best UK universities for politics helpful.
A student from University of Nottingham.