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The politics and public affairs sector is a multidisciplinary field, which includes many different organisations and job roles. Some roles will involve a commitment to a particular political party, whereas others will be politically independent.
Think tanks are generally non-profit organisations, independent of political parties and government, though they may have a political bias and work for a particular agenda. Their purpose is to influence policy and debate, rather than direct campaigning. Some have a particular focus, while others address a wider range of issues, including political strategy and social policy.
Political or public affairs consultancies monitor legislation and changes in policy, to assess its potential impact on a business, charity or other organisation. They may seek to influence policy and inform political debate, engaging with policy makers to present the views of their client organisations; others do little or no lobbying.
Think about the variety of organisations and roles in this area, as you use resources to research the sector.
Consider the skills which are valuable for work in politics and public affairs. Their importance will vary according to the specific role, but you will find the following skills are likely to be in demand in this sector:Research
You may be able to get work experience by exploring some of the following possibilities:
The following think tanks may offer internships or work experience. (Note: this is not an exhaustive list; some opportunities may be paid and some voluntary.)
Charities may offer work experience or voluntary placements which will give you an insight into government affairs and lobbying, for example:
These are just a few examples, but there are lots of other organisations, who may offer similar opportunities.
For work experience and traineeships in Europe, see:
Think tanks, public affairs consultancies, MPs and campaign groups may take on graduates in research and policy roles. However, think tanks often require considerable work experience, and/or a Masters qualification, or take on people who have previously had an internship with them.
The public affairs industry has no set form for job titles - you may find a range of terms used in job ads, including: public affairs, policy, government affairs, parliamentary affairs, political adviser, political researcher and more, see PubAffairs (Public Affairs Networking). Many practitioners have a degree in Politics or related subject, but an interest in politics and communications is essential.
Vacancy websites include:
For vacancies in Europe see:
Check the Apply for jobs pages for help with CVs, applications and the recruitment process.
Find out more about the sector from these multimedia resources
Keep up to date with the sector and learn about types of jobs available with these podcasts.
Relevant episode of our What do you actually do? podcast: