CAREERS IN POLITICS Careers Advisory Service University of Kent at Canterbury The slides from this talk are at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/slides.htm
WHAT CAREERS ARE THERE IN POLITICS? Civil Service? Er … ??? Spin doctor?? MP???
KENT GRADUATESWORKING IN POLITICS A diplomat working on British/EU legislative issues in Brussels Assistant Democratic Services Officer, District Council Assistant Director (partnerships) Surrey County Council GMB National Officer Scottish Executive Development Department Organisational development officer, Manchester City Council Director of Policy & Communications Westminster City Council
Oil trader Film Editor Freight Operations Manager Librarian Personnel Director Solicitor Housing Officer Marketing Manager Hotel Manager Public Relations Executive Bookseller Prison Governor Crime Analyst Potter Journalist WHAT ELSE DO POLITICS GRADUATES DO?
Why do employers recruit graduates? • Demonstrated ability to learn • Academically able • Self-motivated • Good all-rounders • Maturity • Achievers • Personal transferable skills • and perhaps - knowledge of their subject
WHAT SKILLS HAVE YOU GAINED ON YOUR COURSE? • Communication skills • Gathering, investigating and assessing info • Organising material in a logical way • Condensing facts, ideas and arguments • Understanding of current affairs and issues
TYPES OF WORK INVOLVING POLITICS Usually involve one or (often) more of the following: • Administration • Research • Communication and persuasion
TYPES OF WORK INVOLVING POLITICS • Administrative Civil Service:- Fast Stream; Mainstream House of Commons/Lords Clerk Local Government administrator Political party organiser
TYPES OF WORK INVOLVING POLITICS • Research Civil Service research posts House of Commons Library Clerk Academic teaching and research MP’s researcher Party research departments Trades unions Think-tanks
TYPES OF WORK INVOLVING POLITICS • Communication and persuasion Civil Service: Government Communication Network Political party agent Lobbyist Journalist
OTHER TYPES OF WORK THAT MAY INVOLVE POLITICS • Event organising • Publishing • Market research • Web design • IT support • Charities/pressure groups
THE CIVIL SERVICE FAST STREAM The Work: Assisting senior civil servants and Ministers to formulate and implement policy Researching issues Drafting memos and reports Preparing replies to Parliamentary questions Providing administrative support to working parties and committees
HOUSE OF COMMONS/LORDS CLERKS The Work: • Giving advice on the practice and procedure of the House to Members, Chairs of Committees and the Speaker • Taking divisions • Servicing Select Committees: organising their enquiries; travel with the Committee in the UK and abroad; helping prepare draft reports
Entry requirements: UK national 2.2 minimum (most entrants have 2.1) in any subject Application and selection procedure: Closing date early November 2009 for entry in Sept 2010 Applicants work through self-assessment exercises before they can access the online form Online application and more tests In-tray exercise at test centre Fast-Stream Assessment Centre FAST-STREAM ENTRY Full details at www.faststream.gov.uk
OTHER CIVIL SERVICE POSTS • Junior Managers(a.k.a. Executive Officers) • Involved chiefly with applying policy in practice • Middle-management role • Opportunities to move into Fast Stream • Departments and agencies recruit individually - vacancies onsites such as www.jobsgopublic.com and the Civil Service Recruitment Gateway • http://careers.civil-service.gov.uk
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION • “ngdp” graduate programme • Training schemes run by individual local authorities (including KCC) • Many graduates enter local government at more junior grades to gain a foothold • Councils recruit individually, generally through local press/their own websites
POLITICAL PARTY ORGANISER • Chiefly responsible for administration, PR and fundraising • Membership of the party and previous voluntary experience usually required
RESEARCH POSTS • Civil Service Research Posts • only arise occasionally; may need PG degree • House of Commons Library Clerks … • are not librarians! • They provide an information and research service to MPs • Provide instant answers and prepare briefings • Academic research • combined with university teaching/admin • need higher degree
RESEARCH POSTS • Political researchers • Work for: • Individual MPs/MEPs etc • Party research departments (where they exist!) • Trades unions • Think-tanks • Political consultancies
RESEARCH POSTS • Political researchers: The Work • Involves: • Writing briefings, speeches,etc • Dealing with the public; press; other politicians; lobbyists • Drafting policy • Monitoring the media “You need to be able to do a bit of everything … the atmosphere in the office is very fast-moving. One minute I’ll be taking a call from a national BBC journalist, the next talking to a single mother who needs help sorting out her benefits.”
RESEARCH POSTS Political research - getting in and getting on • Often a first step to careers in other areas, e.g. lobbying or party agent … • .. but few researchers become MPs • Make speculative applications and gain work experience (usually voluntary) • Poor pay and limited career structure • Need a thick skin!
INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION Includes: • Public Affairs; Lobbying; Public Relations Employers include: • Specialised political consultancies • Public relations agencies • Businesses • Voluntary organisations • Government Communications Network
INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION The Work: Maintaining an awareness, and a positive image, of your client to the public or to decision-makers and people of influence through: • Monitoring the press, Hansard, etc • Writing reports, press releases and briefings • Organising events and conferences • Handling enquiries from clients, the media, etc • “Relationship management”
INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION “My role is quite mixed. Part of my work involves formulating the charity’s public policy positions in response to government initiatives, so I write a lot of consultation responses, submissions to government and briefings for senior staff. I am also involved with making sure the charity's messages are in line with the latest research and views of people with suffering from the health condition our charity focuses on. This means that I carry out opinion research - including large-scale surveys and focus groups - and analyse the responses. I also work on particular projects that have policy implications” Policy and information officer for a health charity
INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION Getting in and getting on • Voluntary work and voluntary organisations are the best source of early experience • Make speculative applications • Postgraduate degree can be helpful
TYPES OF WORK INVOLVING POLITICS • Many jobs combine two or more of these elements • Common factor is a knowledge of/interest in politics • Most of them recruit from any degree subject .. • .. although an interest in and enthusiasm for politics will help But what else do they have in common?
All will need goodCOMMUNICATION SKILLS - putting over information verbally or in writing - ANALYTICAL SKILLS- the ability to research and assess information from a variety of sources - DECISION MAKING SKILLS- weighing up evidence and arguments -PEOPLE SKILLS- especially the ability to persuade, negotiate with and listen to other people. You will need to be able to use your ownINITIATIVE, to be wellORGANISED, toPLANyour work and meet deadlines or work under pressure These are skills which are equally valuable in a wide variety of other careers
MAKING DECISIONS • “Choosing a Career” booklet and web pageswww.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing/ChoosingCareer.htm • Prospects Planner programwww.prospects.ac.uk/links/Pplanner • “I Want to Work in Politics” www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin.htm • Look at job adverts and job descriptions • Talk to people about their work and how they got their jobs
SHOULD I CONSIDER POSTGRADUATE STUDY? • Important if you want a career in political research or communication … • Essential if you want a teaching career (in schools or universities) • May be necessary (or useful) to enter some careers such as law, psychology, human resources, journalism, information work • It is possible to study Politics at postgraduate level with an undergraduate degree in another (related) subject
FINDING OUT MORE: POSTGRADUATE STUDY • Use directories and websites such as: www.prospects.ac.uk/links/PGstudy www.postgrad.hobsons.com • Prospectuses for all UK universities in Careers Library • Careers Advisory Service website www.kent.ac.uk/careers/postgradmenu.htm • Apply ideally in first term of final year • No UCAS system – apply direct
THE END - of this talk, but not of your career planning! Use the Careers Advisory Service for advice and Information We are open 9am - 5pm, Monday – Friday throughout the year www.kent.ac.uk/careers