If you are passionate about politics and want to make a career out of it, there are a number of different jobs available in the political arena. You may wish to:
· Work for an MP
MPs normally have two offices, one in Parliament and another in their constituency. The types of roles available in an MP’s office can vary (secretary, researcher, office manager, caseworker) but an MP normally has up to four paid full-time members of staff and is sometimes aided by an intern or volunteer.
· Work for the government
You may wish to become a civil servant and work in a government department or one of the government’s executive agencies. There is a huge variety of jobs available in the civil service, and the government runs its own recruitment website – https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-service/about/recruitment If you are a university graduate, you may prefer to join the civil service faststream, although this can be a very competitive route.
· Work for a political party
The main political parties employ a number of staff in their head offices. A range of opportunities can be available, such as being a press officer or an events organiser. You could also get the chance to shape future policy – the Conservative Party, for instance, has its own research department which helps to form the party line.
· Work in a think tank
Think tanks are organisations which attempt to shape policy by conducting research in the areas of social or political strategy. Well-known think tanks include the Adam Smith Institute, IPPR, the Centre for Policy Studies, Civitas, and the Fabian Society.
· Work for a lobby group
Lobby groups promote a particular cause or interest and try to influence public policy.
· Work for a political consultancy
Political consultancies can perform a number of tasks for their clients. They monitor parliamentary activity and advise how this will affect their clients, they can help with drafting submissions to government bodies, they can lobby and they can try to raise their clients’ profiles so they are better understood by those in government.
· Work for the local council
The council helps people with a range of things from housing and planning to social services. You may wish to get a job assisting the council in their work or you may prefer to become an elected councillor, championing the interests of those living in your ward.
· Work for a charity
There are charities for many different causes, and many of the larger charities offer their own internships and graduate programmes.
· Work in international development
This can be a very competitive area, particularly if you want to work in a body such as the United Nations. You may wish to work for an NGO (non-governmental organisation) specialising in aid to developing countries, for example, or get involved in international diplomacy. There are sometimes jobs available at embassies, most of which are based in London, or you may wish to apply to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office via the civil service recruitment process. A number of think tanks such as Chatham House and the Foreign Policy Centre specialise in international relations.
· Work in the political affairs section of a large business
Increasingly large firms are beginning to understand the importance of politics to their business. Some have in-house political consultants to promote their business in Parliament and to explain how government policy will affect them.
· Work in the media
You may wish to become a political commentator or reporter for one of the many political journals, newspapers, and websites. This can be a competitive industry, and it may be best to start by contributing to local publications.
Entry-level jobs in the political arena are not normally highly paid but there is often stiff competition for them. To land your dream job, it can help to have relevant experience on your CV, and it might be worthwhile to undertake voluntary work or start an unpaid internship to demonstrate your interest in politics.
The ‘Working for an MP’ website is an invaluable source for discovering paid and unpaid opportunities currently available in parliament, think tanks, consultancies and other public affairs organisations. It also offers guides on working for Members of Parliament.