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.