What Can You Do With a Degree in Political Science?

Updated on February 2, 2018
renegadetory profile image

I am a former assistant to a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament. I've also worked for the provincial and federal conservative party

Me and Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Me and Prime Minister Stephen Harper | Source

Before You Graduate

Graduating with a degree in political science does not guarantee a job in politics let alone a career. There are many political science graduates all across Canada and there is plenty of competition for work.

Therefore, one of the most important things you can do for yourself before you complete your degree is to research, research, research! What kind of research? Here are some examples:

  • What area of political science do you want to specialize in?
  • Where do you see yourself working (geographically) after you graduate?
  • What do you want to get out of a career; stability? money? benefits? excitement? travel?
  • How do you plan on developing your career?
  • What skills or experience do you need?

These are all very important questions that you should begin asking yourself if you haven't already. The sooner you begin, the more likely you will be successful in having the career you want with your political science degree.

There are approximately six areas of employment you can enter with your political science degree:

1) Public Service Sector
2) Lobbying
3) Consulting/Self-employment
4) Teaching/Academic
5) Parliament
6) Non-Profit organizations

Meeting the Prime Minister of Canada
Meeting the Prime Minister of Canada | Source

Work in the Public Service Sector

So you want to work for the government? The plus side to working in the public sector is good pay, a certain level of job stability, benefits and depending on what department you work in; a chance to move up the corporate ladder. Did I mention benefits?

The downside? During these economic times, while recovery is still not complete and everyone is watching where the money goes, the government is making cuts to the public service sector in all areas and departments. More people are retiring and there are no plans to fill their positions = fewer employment opportunities for you.

There are also more hurdles to jump through to even make it to a job interview. Most bureaucratic positions here in Ottawa state that you must be bilingual BBB imperative. That's oral, reading and writing. There are also numerous tests you must pass in some cases (depending on the department and position) and years of experience are a must have.

What can you do to improve your chances of being hired?

  • Get some solid experience under your belt. If you are a recent university graduate, you can apply for the 10- month paid internship program through Parliament or if you are a Conservative Party member you can apply for their summer internship program. You will be placed in an MP's office or a Minister's office allowing you gain valuable knowledge and experience as well as the opportunity to interact with other public sector employees. The pay is nothing spectacular but the networking opportunities more than make up for it. Make the most of it.
  • Learn to speak, read and write French. There are many places here in Ottawa that offer French language training specifically designed for public sector employment/employees. Another avenue would be to check out McGill University in Montreal, which offers a full-time French Intensive program during the summer.
  • Find work in the private sector in a field related to your studies that will assist you in obtaining a job in the public sector.
  • Volunteer your knowledge and experience with non-profit organizations in your field of study.
  • Regularly check the federal/provincial public service employment websites for job listings that you would be interested in applying for and see what specific qualifications you will require.

Become a Lobbyist

What's so great about becoming a lobbyist?

Well for starters, you can specialize in a particular area that interests you such as medicine, business, foreign affairs, etc. If you love policy, there are plenty of policy analyst/advisor opportunities. Most lobbying positions put you in direct contact with many key players in the political sphere, especially politicians on Parliament Hill. Can you say network?

Another added bonus to working for a lobby group is that many offer junior research positions, paid internships and offer paid career development opportunities.

Most positions require a Bachelor's degree, a few years experience (usually 4-6 on average) and appropriate work experience in industry, politics or government.

Work as a Consultant

This is a difficult career path to embark on shortly after your political science degree. Being an effect consultant requires extensive experience in your related field in order to be taken seriously in the political world.

It will be hard work just to find short-term employment and contracts with governments, universities, and NGOs as there is plenty of competition out there, especially in Ottawa.

If you still decide that ultimately this is the career you wish to develop you will need to work on building an extensive network of contacts, learn a second language and it would be in your best interest to diversify your background by taking a second B.A. or M.A. in another discipline.

Back to the books?
Back to the books? | Source

Work as a Teacher or Professor

This is the career path for those wishing to pursue a Masters degree and follow up with a Ph.D.

There is one word that can describe the career outlook for someone interested in teaching: tight.

Why do I say that? The Canadian market for university teachers has been flat for over a decade. The supply of tenured teaching positions is far less than the demand. It is recommended that only the top 5 to 10 percent should consider an academic career. It is likely that you will need to take a limited term or sessional appointments before landing a tenure-track position.

What can you do to develop a career in this area?

  • What you study is equally important as where you study. A university with a solid reputation or department with a good reputation will help you.
  • Apply for every scholarship and award that you are eligible for. They help demonstrate your scholarly excellence.
  • Remained focused on your dissertation research, take only one assistantship and one sessional appointment for lecturing and course management skills. Keep outside commitments to a minimum and plan a publication strategy which should include a publication of your dissertation.

Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill | Source

Work on Parliament Hill

You don't need a Bachelors degree to get a job working on Parliament Hill. However, these are mainly legislative assistant jobs. If you want a job on the Hill where you have more seniority and authority you will need a Bachelors degree of some sort and you will require a political party membership in order to work in any MPs office.

Jobs in any MP office, whether they are in cabinet or just a backbencher are usually separate from the public service. Employment opportunities are rarely posted publicly. Instead, they are circulated via internal email. You won't which MP is hiring and for what unless you have access to this email yourself or know someone who can forward you any job openings.

Working in an MPs office is not really considered a career given the unstable nature of government. Unless there is a majority, there is no guarantee of job security for any length of time. Working on the Hill is however, a very valuable asset to anyone with a political science degree with regard to both the experience and networking opportunities available through that position. Such job experience may include; general office duties such as filing and answering phones to research work on specific issues and questions of interest to the MP. It may also include constituency work, speech writing, communications, 10 percenters and householders.

Those who work directly in a Minister's office usually do have a post-secondary degree and relative experience. These jobs are few and far between and often depend upon who you know. Many such positions deal more specifically with policy pertaining to the department that Minister is responsible for, such as Aboriginal Affairs. So if you are interested in developing a background in policy and government, working in a Ministers office is a great advantage.

What can you do to become employed in this area?

  • Get a membership with the political party you identify with.
  • Take advantage of any and all opportunities to network with people that work on the Hill and the politicians themselves. This can include constituency BBQs, town hall meetings, or larger networking events such as conventions or conferences by various policy organizations as well.
  • Look for publicly posted job opportunities to work in the office of a political party. Many staff members have gone on to work for MPs on the Hill.
  • Applying for an internship program is another way to get your foot in the door.
  • Volunteer your services to an MP office

Provincial and Municipal jobs

The same advice applies to work in legislatures or city hall. Jobs at city hall tend to be fewer and far between than on the Hill or at any provincial legislature.

*Important*

The office of the ethics commissioner has specific rules and regulations for people who work on the Hill and then wish to work for a lobby group. For most positions it requires a 2 year cooling off period before you can work for a lobby group. In some instances, if your position involved greater access to government or if you were a Minister or MP there is a 5 year cooling off period. Be sure to keep this in mind before you seek employment on the Hill so you know what to do once you are no longer working to continue to develop your career with your political science degree.

Work for a Non-Profit Organization/Charity

Having a career in the non-profit sector has its advantages and disadvantages.

Many of these organizations rely on funding from the government so they often do not have a large operating budget to have a large staff, they rely primarily on volunteers. Most of these organizations also have a fairly flat management structure which means there will very little room for advancement. People are lucky enough to secure a better job in this sector tend to hold on to them for as long as they can, so vacancies rarely occur.

On the plus side, there is a large number of these organizations spread out across Canada varying in type and focus, including all different area of interest from industry and development to world peace. Because these organizations deal with the government in one way, having a degree in political science will give you an advantage over other job seekers with degrees in sociology or economics.

Additional Suggestions to Develop Your Career

  • Take advantage of the career center of your university. It can help you identify areas of employment and career opportunities with your Bachelor's degree.
  • Attend as many career fairs as you can while in university. Many are held right on campus.
  • Take advantage of any opportunities to build up your existing network of contacts
  • Start a blog or your own website about issues or areas that are of interest to you. This will help your writing skills, computer, and Internet skills and will give you some exposure.
  • Writing is another way to bolster your resume, provide additional experience and exposure. Your university newspaper is a good place to start. Other avenues include student publications such as the Fraser Institute's Canadian Student Review.
  • Volunteering is another way to gain valuable experience as well as network and get your foot in the door of places you wouldn't otherwise be able.
  • Consider furthering your education by taking your Masters degree. A very popular degree for working in politics/government in Ottawa is NPSIA. You can also study for an additional diploma such as the University of Guelph's Certificate in Public Policy and Administration which you can do completely online. Often by having an additional education, it can give you an edge when competing for certain jobs.
  • Research job listings that you are interested in career-wise and see what they list as requirements. Make a list of the qualifications you need to have and work on developing them. They can be computer skills, language skills, or communication skills to name a few.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Carolyn Dahl

    Share your thoughts!

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • renegadetory profile image
        Author

        Carolyn Dahl 7 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

        Thank you jponiato, I think there needs to be more info out there for students so they can make solid decisions about their future!

      • jponiato profile image

        jponiato 7 years ago from Mid-Michigan

        You've provided a lot of excellent information.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)