Starting A Career In Public Policy: How You Can Make It Happen

April 5, 2023

Public policy is shaped by the laws we follow and the services we use. It is the framework that shapes our society and influences our future. 

There are a number of reasons why you could want to start a career in public policy. However, getting started in this competitive field can be challenging. This article will break down some of the steps you can take to make your dream of a career in public policy a reality.



Ensure You First Understand Public Policy

It’s important to take the time to fully understand what public policy is and how it works before you rush into this career. Simply put, public policy is the process by which government decisions are made and implemented in a country. It encompasses a wide range of public sectors, from healthcare to education. 

You can learn more about public policy by reading books and articles on the subject, attending seminars and conferences, and taking courses in policy analysis, economics, and political science. You should ensure you have a good understanding of public policy ahead of time to know if this career path is the right choice for you.

As well as understanding what public policy is all about, you should also know about how the government works with it and the various institutions involved in policy-making. This includes legislative bodies, executive agencies, and courts. Each level of government has its own unique processes and challenges, so it’s important to understand these nuances as you begin your career in public policy.

By taking the time to develop a strong foundation in public policy, you can position yourself for success and make a real impact on the world. Take the time to fully understand the complexities of public policy, as this will be in your best interest. By the end, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


Develop Your Skills

You will need some relevant and applicable skills to have success with a career in public policy. Consider the skillset you already have from previous jobs or from your educational studies. You may already have some transferable skills that can help.

If not, then you will need to find a way to develop these skills from scratch. These skills could include analytical thinking, communication, problem-solving, and project management. Analytical thinking is key for helping you to understand complex policy issues, and problem-solving helps you find effective solutions.

As mentioned, these skills could be something you have picked up over the years, but there are many ways to develop these skills. You could seek out a relevant mentor who can assist you, or you could volunteer to work on projects that help boost you in some way. Alternatively, you could look for online courses that can provide you with exactly what you need.


Get Educated

If you believe you have the required skills, then you could consider gaining yourself a certificate that qualifies you to work within this industry. While there is no one “right” degree for this field, a degree in political science, public administration, or a related field can be a great foundation. Many public policy professionals will have relevant degrees or will have taken online courses to help gain credentials and allow them to get relevant jobs.

Many institutions will allow you to gain a qualification that will help you gain practical skills for analyzing, evaluating, and communicating public policy. The Public Policy Analysis course from the London School of Economics is a great example of this. You can register online and complete the online certificate course to engage with topical global case studies that can help prepare you for a career in public policy.


Gain Experience Where You Can


In addition to education, gaining practical experience could be crucial for you to launch your career in public policy successfully. Look for opportunities to intern or volunteer with political campaigns, non-profits, or government agencies whenever you can. This will look great on your CV and will show your ambitions. These experiences can help you build valuable skills, make important connections, and gain a deeper understanding of how policy decisions are made and implemented.

If you are a student, then consider seeking out leadership roles in student organizations or community groups. These experiences can help you develop your organizational and communication skills, which are essential for success in public policy. There should be plenty of opportunities for students to gain experience in this field. Consider asking your lecturer or student union representative for more details.

If you have already graduated and are employed, then you should know that there are still opportunities to volunteer and gain experience. Many businesses these days offer paid volunteering leave to allow you to go and grow your skills without worrying about time off from work. You should also ask your employer if this is something they offer or would offer to you.


Build Your Network

We mentioned above how a mentor could be key in you gaining relevant public policy skills, but a mentor could also help you get started in your public policy career through connections. Connections are gained through networking, which will be key for your public policy career.

There are many ways for you to network around. You could attend network events related to public policy, or you could join professional associations. As long as you are able to meet these connections, then you will be on the right track. 

You will also be able to network through social media. LinkedIn is a great way to network and allows you to connect with policymakers directly. You can lean on their knowledge and even potentially find a mentor through the site/app.


Keep Up To Date On The News

In order for you to achieve success and find a career in public policy, you will need to stay up to date on the latest news and developments related to public policy.

By staying informed on current affairs, you can gain a better understanding of current policy issues. You will be best placed to identify emerging trends and stay abreast of the latest research and best practices. 

There are many ways to stay up to date on the news, including reading newspapers, subscribing to policy-focused newsletters, and following experts and thought leaders on social media. You can also attend policy events and conferences, where you can hear from experts and engage in discussions with other professionals.


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