International Market Researcher
Executive Search Consultant
Human Resources Specialist
Foreign Service Worker
Public Opinion Analyst
Public Relations Director
Human Rights Advocate
Urban Policy Planner
Labor Relations Specialist
Strategic Planning Consultant
What skills should I be developing in myself?
- Oral and written communication
- Decision – making
- Problem – solving
- Analytical thinking
- Research skills
- Leadership abilities
- Ability to interact with diverse populations
- Ability to develop and market ideas
- Understanding of community needs
- Computer literacy
- Ability to collaborate/work as part of a team
- Work well under pressure
How do I know which job is right for me?
The best way to learn about a career is to talk to people who have been there. Find professionals in your area who are willing to share their experiences with students. The internship coordinator for your major may be able to give you names and/or contact information of local professionals if you are unsure of where to begin.
Job shadowing is a fantastic way to understand everyday tasks and get a sense of the day-to-day work of different professions. Spend a couple hours, or even a few days, with a lawyer, a campaign manager, or a government official and see what their job really entails.
Another way to gain insight is to conduct what is called an informational interview. Meet with a professional who is currently working in a field of interest to you, and ask them about their work. Why do they do it? What do they like most? What is the most frustrating part of the job? Do they have recommendations for a student or new professional who wants to get into the field?
When you are job searching, people are your best resources – use them well!!
There are also a number of online resources that provide information on various careers – check some of these out:
- www.educationindex.com/poli_sci/ – Government and Political Science Resources
- www.ourpublicservice.org – Government Jobs
- www.usajobs.opm.gov – Government Jobs
- www.studentjobs.gov – Government Jobs for Students
- www.mnaonline.org – Michigan Nonprofit Association
Everyone wants me to have experience – how do I get it?
Should I complete an internship?
Absolutely! Now, not all programs of study require internship experience to graduate, but this can be an invaluable opportunity to network, gain experience, and check out different career paths. Internship credits can also sometimes be used to meet other requirements within your major (like a 300-level PLS course, for example!). Check out the Political Science internship website for the course syllabus, expectations, and a list of past internship sites.
What about volunteering?
Volunteering is a wonderful way to gain experience while you are completing your degree. Many organizations only require a two-hour-per-week commitment – perfect for the busy student schedule! MSU has a fabulous Service Learning Center, which will help connect you with a volunteer organization in your field of interest. Again, this is a great way to build your network and your résumé at the same time!!
What do I need to do in order to get an internship/job?
Résumés, Cover Letter and Interviews
In many cases, the first thing an employer will see about you is your cover letter and résumé. It is important that these pieces be clear, concise and even a little creative. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” résumé or cover letter!! Carefully look through job descriptions and pull out what employers are looking for in their candidates. If you’ve done research, it will show!
Once you have an interview, think through your experiences and outline some good examples and anecdotes that can be used to answer potential questions. Given what you know about the employer, what kinds of questions might they ask you? Being unprepared or uninformed is a common mistake that is easily avoided. Also, be sure to have a short list of thoughtful questions for your interviewer – remember, you are interviewing them as well!
Check out these resources for more fantastic information on the job search process!