Three Paths to a Career in Public Policy

Three Paths to a Career in Public Policy

Are you interested in devoting your life to public service, but unsure how to get your foot in the door? Fortunately for you, there are many doors through which you may enter the field. There are numerous populations in need of help, and there are also numerous ways of providing them with assistance. Below are a few ideas for obtaining the qualifications necessary for spending your lifetime doing just that.

Three Paths to a Career in Public Policy

1. Combined Degree Programs

If you are still early in or have yet to begin your undergraduate degree, you may be able to set yourself up for a career in public policy by carefully choosing your degree program at this time. Some universities offer five-year programs in which participants can earn their master’s degrees in public policy partially in conjunction with earning their undergraduate degrees in the fields of their choosing.

For example, if you would like to revolutionize mental healthcare in this country, then you might earn your undergraduate degree in psychology while also earning credits toward your graduate degree in public policy. The psychology courses would provide you with a foundation of the issues relevant to the field, and the public policy courses would teach you how to use your knowledge to advise policy changes. Combined or dual degree programs often lead their graduates to promising careers. In fact, some programs boast graduate employment rates of nearly 100 percent.

2. Online Degrees

If you have already completed your undergraduate degree, that does not mean your chance to enter the public policy field is over. You can still become more qualified for public service positions while continuing to work within your chosen field. For example, the USC MPA program gives its participants the tools they need to interpret and understand the complex lobbying and legislation that go into policymaking. Students learn how to accurately evaluate new information and use their findings to successfully build policies that work for the good of the public.

Likewise, students of the USC LLM program receive a law education that is both wide and deep. By understanding the intricacies involved in multiple areas of law practice, students are better equipped to draft workable bills and create fair policies. Geared toward international students, this program can be completed in as little as one year.

3. Work for a Volunteer or Nonprofit Organization

Working for the Peace Corps, Teach for America, or a similar organization will give you the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of social change. Some policymakers have never actually interacted with the populations they claim to want to protect, so they end up advocating for laws that do not actually help their target beneficiaries. Instead of relying on secondhand information to inform policy agendas, give yourself a foundation of service that you will be able to look back upon throughout the rest of your career.

Providing direct assistance to disadvantaged communities is a valuable experience. Not only is it simply the right thing to do, but it also gives you an idea of what types of policies would actually benefit them. After your time as an employee or volunteer for a charitable organization, you can still remain involved with its mission. Furthermore, keeping in touch with your colleagues can provide you with valuable alliances and partnerships for years to come.

Many Paths to One End

Public policy careers are as diverse as the people who have them. The exact occupation and job description you end up with will be dependent upon your strengths, abilities, and interests. Whether you become a lawyer, a lobbyist, or an elected official, there are thousands of ways you can improve the world around you through your work. There are many paths you can take to a career in public policy, but ultimately, they all lead to the same end—spending your days making the world a better place.


Three Paths to a Career in Public Policy
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