Career Resources & Information

CAREERS AND THE POLITICAL SCIENCE MAJOR

Department of Political Science
University of Lethbridge

[T]hat noble Science of Politics,... which, of all sciences, is the most important to the welfare of nations, - which, of all sciences, most tends to expand and invigorate the mind, - which draws nutriment and ornament from every part of philosophy and literature, and dispenses, in return, nutriment and ornament to all. (Thomas Babington Macaulay)


Testimonials from Graduates of Our Department

[T]he University of Lethbridge is one of the finest undergraduate universities in the country, and the Political Science Department has an enviable record of scholarship. I look back on the time I spent at the U of L with a great deal of fondness, and treasure the knowledge I gained at this institution. It was an invaluable apprenticeship for my career in polling and politics. [1992 Graduate, now Chief of Staff to Mayor Bronconnier, City of Calgary]

In my time in the Department of Political Science, I gained organizational and analytical skills, along with a solid grasp of the essential topics for the informed citizen; ideologies, governance, and international relations. In my position as a teacher, the experiences that I had as a student at the U of L were invaluable in setting a solid foundation of knowledge, along with the methodology to critically examine today's issues. The faculty is great and always available to discuss ideas or help with further explanation. It is fair to say that studies in Political Science prepare today's grads for tomorrow's issues. [2001 Graduate and Faculty of Arts & Science Gold Medal Winner, now a teacher in the Palliser School District, Alberta]

Flexible Skills and the Reverse Funnel

The Political Science major is like a reverse funnel. It provides diverse skills for today's ever-changing economy that enables you to maximize your career choices. Basic skills include:

  • wide variety of analytical techniques that overlap with other disciplines (i.e., descriptive, philosophical, mathematical)
  • ability to conduct original research of various kinds
  • oral, written, and visual communication skills
  • ability to engage a diversity of viewpoints
  • diverse approaches to learning open up possibilities for career choices and lifelong learning

Poli Sci Majors in the Ever-Changing Economy

  • economy demands flexibility and multiple careers: favors liberal education majors over applied degrees
  • expect to have numerous careers during your lifetime
  • in the long term, social science and humanities earn MORE than applied degrees [Source: Bruce Little, "Study tells grads what to expect in future careers," Globe and Mail, September 24, 2001, B8; Philip Giles & Torben Drewes, "Liberal Arts Degrees and the Labour Market," Education Quarterly Review, 2002, 8(2): 19-25. See also, "What Determines Labor Market Success for Recent Culture Graduates?" (Statscan, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/)
  • in the long term, social science and humanities majors are employed longer than applied degrees (whose skills become obsolete)
  • the disadvantage for Poli Sci majors is in the term -- in the three to five years immediately after graduation -- but this is compensated for by enjoying more secure and higher-paying employment in later years (when they have more responsibilities including family, mortgage, etc.)

Some Types of Careers for Poli Sci Majors to Consider

  • careers that require strong communication skills: communications, public relations, advertising, consulting, market research, journalism, government-business relations
  • teaching (especially Social Studies)
  • NGOs
  • law
  • government, international organizations, party organizations, advocacy groups, parliament, public service
  • also para-political occupations: public opinion polling, lobbyist, think tanks, political analysis, risk management analysis, media relations
  • academia
  • and, of course, elected office

General Advice for Job Hunting

  • make contacts -- who you know can be as important as what you know
  • cultivate specific skills that can get you in the door for your first job (even if the first job is not ideal). Put your writing and other communications skills to work and gain experience.
  • consider volunteering, internships, co-op education, and applied studies. Graduate work (e.g., M.A.) also opens doors to nonacademic careers.
  • take advantage of the university's Career Resource Centre [http://www.uleth.ca/ross/ces]
  • keep your eyes open for new opportunities. Stay a step ahead of the curve.

More Information on Political Science and Careers

General Job Listings

Career-Specific Listings, Think-Tanks, Internships, Volunteer Opportunities

Compiled by Dr. John von Heyking, Department of Political Science, University of Lethbridge