If you find yourself getting sucked into political shows (The Daily Show, The Sean Hannity Show, The Rachel Maddow Show), or constantly updating your Facebook page with government-related news and opinions, you might be a great candidate to earn a political science degree. Political science majors often complete coursework in classes like Western Civilization, U.S. History, American Government, Constitutional Law, The Supreme Court, World Politics, International Law, Environmental Politics, Human Rights, Political Theory, and Comparative Politics.
Even if you don’t intend to work for City Hall, you might still benefit from a major in political science. Here are five, fun, potential career options for poly sci grads and college hopefuls:
The last presidential election helped make politics cool again. President Obama’s win was a win for young America and civic involvement, as Millennials flocked to Twitter, Facebook—even local rallies—to participate in the democratic process. If there was ever a time to teach kids about government, it’s today.
As a poly sci grad, you might share your knowledge of government and history with this newly engaged group of middle school/high school students. Some states’ teacher license guidelines require secondary teachers to major in the subject they want to teach (e.g. political science or history), and minor in education. Even if your chosen college doesn’t offer an education minor, you could enter the teaching field after completing an alternative teacher prep route.
Enjoy Nonprofit Work
Lots of Americans hate their jobs because they’re stuck with ridiculous work assignments. When profit is the bottom line, it’s sometimes difficult to feel good about the work you do. So why not ditch the for-profit working world? With a degree in political science, you might branch into nonprofit employment—working for an altruistic agency like an arts guild, a civil rights org, a housing program, a disability services office, a university, a medical research charity, or even a national relief organization, like the Red Cross.
Bonus: the vibe in a nonprofit workplace is often friendlier and more relaxed than in cutthroat, business settings. Not everyone in the world of nonprofit is a saint, and certainly there are stressful days to be had in public service, but the general focus on doing good work for people who need it can be a very unique advantage.
Work in Government
Government jobs are obvious gigs for political science majors, but actually getting your hands on a government job is a less obvious process. Well before you complete your degree, you’ll want to begin volunteering or interning for local government offices or for your chosen political party. You might work on a congressional candidate’s campaign. You could also seek a summer intern role at your State House—or even at your local town hall. Because there are dozens of different government departments at both state and federal levels, job opportunities can be quite diverse—from analyst, to administrator, to policymaker, and beyond. The sooner you start exploring the terrain, the sooner you can begin to seek relevant experience and enroll in coursework that can support your long-term goals.
Enter Journalism or Public Relations
If you’re interested in politics, then you’re probably interested in the people and communities around you. By studying history and government you may learn more about America’s interest groups, social concerns, economic strains, and more. This can provide great context for those who pitch news stories and report on current events—namely, PR reps and journalists/reporters.
The explosion of online information has created a new niche for communications pros, whether they work for corporations, media outlets, or independently. If you can blog and promote your personal life on Facebook, then you’re already engaging in some of today’s biggest media trends. To obtain added practice in writing, reporting, targeting audiences, etc, you may wish to minor in communications or English.
Pursue Law School
Most of us are familiar with TV depictions of lawyers—often criminal attorneys, who pace crowded courtrooms while delivering closing arguments. But your life as a lawyer doesn’t have to be so dramatic—unless that’s your goal! Lawyers represent all kinds of clients in all kinds of cases, including criminal, civil, and family court proceedings. Some lawyers spend most of their time overseeing contracts or proofreading documents. Some lawyers assist in estate planning, divorce filing, or child custody cases. According to the University of California, Berkeley’s Pre-Law admission guide, political science is among the six most popular undergraduate majors of law school applicants.[i]