How to get into policy-related jobs?(8 Posts)
Just wondering if anyone might work in these sort of jobs or have an idea about how to get into these jobs?
I randomly came across someone who works in policy for a group of universities. It turned out that they'd worked for an MP before going into policy (not through the Civil Service though).
Just wondering if anyone has any advice on this please?
It's what I do and I did used to work for an MP. Is this an option? If no previous experience you might need to intern first. If not, I suggest you look into either charities or consultancies. They will have policy positions on a wide range of issues, depending on what you're interested in. Policy goes hand in hand with public affairs, so might be worth getting some experience of that too. Good luck!
It depends on what kind of policy and what sort of organisation I guess - there's huge variation.
I currently work in social policy for a professional body. I qualified as a solicitor, then found myself in a policy based role in children's services at a London borough local authority, before moving to the central policy team focusing on child poverty.
I think it helps to have a particular skill set you can spin to either the policy area you're interested in or the organisation you wish to work for. All my roles demanded strong analysis, written and communication skills but I think most importantly, you need a clear understanding of the bigger issues that impact on your area.
Without wanting to out myself, my role demands an understanding of child poverty, the wealth gap in the U.K., the educational outcomes gaps, education paths, professional qualifications etc.
What are you interested in?
I work in policy at a regulator. I joined the organisation in an operational role and moved into policy about half our team came this route, other half were in policy elsewhere - local authorities, unions, central gov.
Job/skills are 50% understanding your area: big picture, influences, impacts how it actually works and 50% policy skills stakeholder management, options analysis, evidence, communication etc.
I think I'd start by identifying what you want to do policy in and building up your expertise unless you want to go into civil service in which case they onlt look at skill side and move you around areas.
Thanks so much everyone - you've all given really useful advice
Holly I haven't got any previous experience of working directly in politics. I've been training as a volunteer with Citizens Advice for about a month now, and have found it really interesting so far - I wonder if this might be good experience for a role that involves working with an MP?
Feathered I'm interested in most of the areas that you mention in your post - child poverty, the wealth gap in the U.K., the educational outcomes gaps, education paths etc. Could I PM you please?
screaming that's great advice - thank you I'm definitely interested in applying for the Civil Service (currently applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream), and also for more specialist policy roles in education and in social inequality. Do you think that working for an MP might be a good first step to take before then applying to work for organisations involved in policy linked to education and social inequality? Do you think as well that perhaps a masters- level qualification would be a good idea to do (either now or later on in a policy-related career?)
I think volunteering with CA will be quite helpful, particularly for a caseworker role for an MP. If you are interested in working for an MP, look out for caseworker roles on www.w4mp.org.
I agree with others, narrow down which field of policy you are interested in. For example I work in health policy, but I have specialised as I have got further into my career. The skills are quite transferrable and I have worked in other fields, but it is definitely helpful to have a particular field in mind.
Applying for CS fast stream is a great idea. Good luck!
Thanks very much Holly
I'm really interested in educational policy as well as policy that addresses social inequality and social deprivation, particularly within an educational context.
I work in academia now, but started out working as an economist in a think-tank working on some of the issues you are interested in. There are quite a lot of trusts, foundations and think-tanks with work streams related to those policy areas if you are interested more in an informing policy role, rather than actually developing or implementing policies yourself - Sutton Trust, Resolution Foundation, IPPR, IFF, IFS, EPI and so on.
Generally speaking, unless you have very specific skills, you would need at least a masters degree with a substantial research component to get a job in a think-tank, although they do take people who have started as interns and on short-term projects if that is something you can afford to do.
There is a fair amount of movement between think-tanks / academia / the civil service and government. If you look at the CVs of people working in these areas, you will often see several of these on someone's CV, so the important thing is often to get your foot in the door somewhere so you can start to build your networks and experience.
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