For anyone looking to make a difference in the world and influence systematic change at the local, federal, or international level, policy can be a natural career choice. Policy is an incredibly dynamic, widespread field that allows you to focus your time and energy working on issues you care about, and develop a range of skills and specialities that can change throughout your career.
Key Skills and Abilities
- Data Analysis
- Critical Thinking
- Creativity and Problem-Solving
- Clear, concise writing
- Persuasive Communication
- Collaboration and Relationship-Building
- State Legislatures
- US Congress (Senate and House)
- Congressional Committees
- Think Tanks
- Trade Associations
- Federal Government Agencies
- State/City/County Agencies
Though the concept is a bit hard to define, policy is essentially the system of laws, regulations, and priorities that are agreed upon and implemented by the government. Naturally, this means that many policy professionals end up working within government at the city, state, and federal level. However, there are also opportunities to engage in policy work outside of the government doing research and analysis, community advocacy, and political lobbying. If you aren’t sure what type of policy work interests you, there are plenty of internships available with political campaigns, NGOs and Nonprofits, and government agencies to help you try it out, and see what you enjoy!
It is worth noting that breaking into the policy field at the entry-level can be difficult, and often requires some past internship experience and a professional network to help you find opportunities. Graduate school is also a great option to consider, and can help ensure that you have all of the relevant skills and experience you need to advance in your career. In the meantime, SuccessWorks can help you gain relevant experience, develop your network, and find entry-level job opportunities!
Policy vs. Politics
One of the most important distinctions to make in the policy field is between policy and politics. Though these areas are strongly intertwined, most areas of policy organizations and employers are focused on a specific issue, independent of political parties or campaigns. Both areas heavily influence the other, so it’s great to have experience and understanding of both areas, but you don’t have to enjoy politics, or want to want to be elected into office yourself in order to succeed in policy (or vice versa).