Careers in public sector, politics, and government

Working in roles across the public sector, government and politics more generally presents opportunities to be involved in areas of policy, having input on decisions which ultimately play some part in affecting the lives of people across a country or geographical area. There is a great breadth to careers in this space, and many overlap with other industries and the private sector.

What is a career in public sector, politics, and government?

The public sector and government offer a wide range of opportunities, including influencing, creating, researching, or delivering policy at local, national, or intergovernmental level, or supporting the work of political organisations. Working in politics can involve lobbying, gathering information on policy, and administration to support political activity. People typically enter careers in this area motivated by a desire to contribute to the public good, create meaningful policy recommendations, or to promote a particular cause or set of values.

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

Organisations that employ people in this area either directly or with certain roles with a key focus on the public sector and politics include:

  • Civil service and governments (departments, agencies, public bodies, security and intelligence services, for politicians or members of a parliament)
  • Public sector more broadly (eg law enforcement, healthcare, education)
  • Political parties
  • Trade unions
  • Public affairs consultancies and political communications firms• Political and global risk and due diligence
  • Charities and NGOs
  • Large corporations (eg banks, tech giants) in public policy/government affairs roles
  • Public policy research in academia or think tanks

What can I do?

There are a huge number of different job roles in this sector. We’ve outlined some of the major ones with links to where you can find more information.

  • Civil servant – works in government departments, involved in operational delivery and policy development or implementation. The Prospects Civil service fast streamer and Civil service administrator job profiles provide further details.
  • Policy roles – in some areas you will be responsible for drafting policy, in others you’ll form the link between policy makers and groups who must adhere to policy. Responsibilities might include informing your organisations about policy or presenting your organisation’s case to government.
  • Political roles – within politics there are many different jobs. For example, a politician’s assistant provides administrative support; a political party agent supports and advises politicians within the context of their political party; and a politician represents people living in a constituency and contributes to regional and national policy and decision-making. The Prospects politician's assistant job profile, TARGETjobs political party agent job description, and Totaljobs politician job description are useful resources.
  • Public affairs consultant and political communications – advises clients on political and public policy. Check out the Prospects public affairs consultant job profile. Organisations advertising vacancies to LSE students and graduates include Lexington Communications, Hannover Communications, the Adam Smith Institute, and Brunswick Group. PR Week’s overview of a press officer role might also be of interest.
  • Corporate functions (HR, IT, operations, communications, and finance) – all the organisations in this sector require central services to support their work. New graduates might sometimes move straight into one of these roles. More often, you’ll make a lateral move from an organisation where you have gained experience and training.  To find out more about these roles, read our Careers in business page.

You’ll find more information about where to look for jobs and opportunities in the next dropdown section.

How can I get there?

This is a sector where there are many openings for new graduates. It’s important to understand employers’ requirements when you’re job searching. This also means knowing about specific selection processes, such as online tests for the Civil Service Fast Stream, fitness tests for the Armed Forces, and training routes for social work and teaching. Most public sector jobs are advertised on specific websites. 

Developing and using networks of contacts will help you understand roles and requirements in more detail and might help you prepare for selection tasks. LinkedIn can help you to make relevant connections.

If you’re looking to gain experience

Competition for posts in the political field is tough and you'll need experience related to politics to develop the necessary skills and contacts. This experience is gained through:

  • voluntary work or internships, such as working for an MP, MSP or MEP, peer or a member of another political institution
  • an undergraduate internship with a public affairs consultancy
  • involvement with a trade union, think tank, employers' organisation or political party, eg, as a political party agent or activist, involvement in student politics and/or holding office in a students' union
  • campaigning work for a charity or pressure group
  • a work placement (stage) within one of the European Union institutions.

If you’re early on in your careerThere are structured graduate schemes for government roles, eg, Civil Service Fast Stream, and also mainstream vacancies. You can apply for both.

Many of the larger political consultancies run graduate programmes lasting from three months to a year. Trainees are introduced to the main political processes and forms of communication and gain exposure to the wider aspects of public relations and communications. Entry-level graduates often conduct research for more experienced colleagues, which provides the opportunity to develop skills and learn about the work.

In other organisations, training is largely on the job. More experienced colleagues oversee your work and you might be offered short, external courses covering topics such as public affairs management, parliamentary procedure and policy making.

If you have more experience

In the public sector, more experienced hiring usually happens through advertised vacancies, specialist recruitment agencies and professional networks. Meeting LSE alumni who have established careers in the field will help answer questions relevant to your individual circumstances.

Public affairs consultants may move into in-house public affairs departments as public affairs managers or policy advisers. Some may move into full-time political roles. These moves may be permanent or may be used to further develop experience and contacts before returning to consultancy.

If you’re changing career

People often move around the sector using existing experience and qualifications. For moves that involve a change in role, it’s often necessary to take some stepping stones to gain relevant experience. This could involve volunteering or perhaps a more junior position.

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in ‘public sector, politics, and government’?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.


Think tanks like the Institute for Government, Policy Exchange, and IPPR run regular events about the state of public policy in the UK, whilst Smart Thinking can be used to browse several further key think tanks. The On Think Tanks open directory is good to browse these internationally.


LSE Careers resources:

External resources:

You can utilise the LSE alumni pages to search for those working within varied roles (eg, by keywords such as ‘housing policy’), skills they use (eg, ‘research’), and by organisation to see those currently working in the field or areas that really interest you. This can also be used to filter by geographical location to find those working in public sector or government roles overseas. Additionally, LSE has alumni groups across the world you can join on graduation, and a special interest Civil Service, Government and Public Policy Group.  

Jobs and opportunities

  • LSE CareerHub – Explore a range of vacancies in areas including defence and public protection; international organisations; politics and political communications, public policy; public sector and government; and research.

Civil Service and Local Government (UK)

Public sector recruitment sites

  • Jobsgopublic – focus on public and not-for-profit sectors
  • – jobs in Brussels, EU institutions and international organisations
  • W4MP Jobs – jobs working for MPs, lobbying organisations and third sector 

Lobbying and public affairs consultancies


  • Operation Black Vote – OBV's MP Shadowing Scheme gives black and ethnic minority people a chance to work shadow an MP.
  • UN Jobs – Public sector


To discuss your options in this sector or chat through your plans so far, book an appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.