There are a wide variety of roles in government and politics. A genuine interest in the workings of politics and the impact of decisions on people and organisations is essential. If you are also confident with quantitative information, there is a wider range of job options. Most roles are very competitive.
Think about whether or not you want to be involved in party politics, or whether you want to change the way politics is done (e.g. advocacy, lobbying or campaigning), or to support the process of government regardless of which political party is in power (most usually through the national Civil Service or local government).
You also need to consider the size of the organisation as think tanks can be tiny, whilst the UK Civil Service employs over half a million people. Short term contracts are the norm in party political roles whereas the Civil Service can be a career for life.
If you are not already actively involved in the party of your choice through the student party group or in your home constituency, this is the place to start. Check that the party policy really is what you think it is, and that you broadly agree with it! Contact MPs for internship experience – this does not guarantee work in the party but is usually a prerequisite.
There are more opportunities in the months and weeks before a general election. If your own MP is a member of your party, this is the best place to ask first. Otherwise, use theyworkforyou.com to find an MP with specialisms or concerns similar to your own, use w4mp.org and respond to advertised opportunities, or contact other MPs close to where you live. It will require skill, excellent networking skills, determination and probably a sprinkling of luck to convert an internship into paid party work.
MPs employ researchers, campaign managers and office managers in constituency and Palace of Westminster offices, and most parties will have paid roles in central HQ too.
- So, you want to work with a Think Tank?
- Smart Thinking - publishes blog articles and research papers from a variety of think tanks and also advertises job opportunities
- Policy jobs - public policy jobs and internships worldwide
- Policy Library - international focus with headlines and links to new resources on economic, social, foreign policy and a world think tank directory
- Apolitical - case studies and careers support for careers in policy
- Political risk consultancies: The list at St Andrews: Political Risk Analysis covers both security work and political risk consultancy.
- Civil service - different recruitment schemes including professional entry into social research, economics, operational research, and legal services
- Civil service Fast Stream – Selects people with the potential and expectation that they progress to senior positions. There are both specialist and more general streams
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) - what the Foreign & Commonwealth Office does and careers opportunities
- National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) - includes information about the scheme and an online application form
- Jobs in local authorities - PDF guide
- If you are an EU citizen, have a look at EU careers for details of how to apply to jobs in the EU. It is not necessarily the case that you need to be an EU citizen to apply for vacancies advertised at Eurobrussels – you’ll need to check the specific vacancy.
- Only nationals from a small number of countries can apply for the UN Young Professionals Programme, and you’ll need to be very able and highly qualified too – find out more
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