Careers Service Occupations

Government, Politics & Policy

Government, Politics and Policy

About

Graduates can find roles in everything from local government and the civil service to security services and political parties.

Careers advice

Government and public bodies

For the civil service there is Gov.uk: Working for the Civil Service and Civil Service Fast Stream Facebook page - advice on the service's graduate talent programme.

For local government there's the National Graduate Development Programme - details of graduate management development.

Security services (MI5/6/GCHQ)

For NHS management there is Step into the NHS and What can I do with my degree? - the NHS Careers website for undergraduates and school leavers.

European institutions

For working with political parties there is w4mp - working for an MP. 

Social research and policy making

For lobbying and public affairs there's PubAffairs  - careers advice for students and graduates. 

Industry news

Civil Service World covers issues to do with the civil service while Public Affairs News and Public Affairs World look at lobbying.

News about European institutions is in The Parliament

PoliticsHome and The House feature stories about the political parties.

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. 

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Local government

Social research and policy making

Lobbying and public affairs

Making contacts

Many jobs in this field come through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

Also see the Gaining Experience tab above for more networking sources.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and other events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. Regular events for this sector include employer presentations.

For more events for this sector see Careers Events

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Charities and Voluntary OrganisationsDevelopment and Armed Forces, Law Enforcement and Public Protection.

Roles & Skills

Government, politics and policy roles exist within a wide variety of organisations. These including the civil service, local government, security services (MI5/6/GCHQ), the National Health Service (NHS) and EU institutions.

Civil service

Civil service administrator

Civil service fast streamer

European institutions

EU Civil Service Assistant (AST)/Administrator (AD)

Health service

Health service manager

Intelligence and security agencies

To apply for the roles below you must be a British citizen and at least one of your parents must be British or have substantial ties to the UK. For MI6, you should have been resident in the UK for nine out of the last 10 years immediately prior to your application.

Intelligence officer, the Security Service (MI5)

Operational officer, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6)

Intelligence analyst

Local government

Local government officer/administrator

Political parties

Member of Parliament (MP)

Parliamentary/constituency researcher

Political party research officer

Politician's assistant

Social research and policy making

Government social research officer

Trade union research officer

Social researcher

Lobbying and public affairs

Political affairs consultant (lobbyist)

Skills employers look for

Employers look for skills including:

  • excellent communication skills
  • proactivity, and the ability to make decisions and take responsibility
  • flexibility, adaptability and self awareness
  • attention to detail
  • a capacity to build and develop productive relationships
  • resourcefulness

Gaining Experience

Networking is crucial to gaining experience in this sector, particularly for public affairs and party political roles.

Meet key contacts by attending public debates, political seminars, such as Newcastle’s Cafe Culture, and party conferences. 

BallotBox is an online platform for young people to voice their political opinions, wherever they stand. It is written and read by young people and they are always looking for contributors.

Find out more about networking to gain experience, including how to make connections and effectively use social media, on Your future in politics, or see Making Contacts.

Check these tailored sections on gaining related experience in:

For networking and speculative approaches the following may also be helpful.

The following links advertise internships for this sector. These are competitive, so apply ahead of deadlines and make sure your application stands out. Visit the Careers Service if you need help with your application.

Postgraduate study

There is no single route to employment in the sector. A combination of work experience with Masters level education is becoming increasingly essential. 

Before deciding to do a postgraduate qualification, you need to undertake some research.  Research vacancies in the area you want to specialise and look at what qualifications and experience employers want.

Most vacancies in this sector need relevant experience. You might want to consider whether it is more beneficial for you to gain experience before or after further study. 

For further information on postgraduate study and funding, see our Further Study web pages.

See Internships, Placements & Shadowing for more opportunities.

Finding Jobs

Networking is crucial to finding jobs in this sector, particularly for public affairs and party political roles.

Competition is strong, especially for entry-level positions. Use these resources to find advertised vacancies and also research employers for speculative applications.

General

Government and public bodies

Civil Service

Intelligence and security agencies

Local government

Health service management

European institutions

Politics

  • Electus start - specialist recruitment for politics and public affairs
  • w4mp - working for an MP
  • UK Parliament - Houses of Parliament official site, includes vacancies
  • Political Jobs - global vacancies - subscription required to access all vacancies

Social research and policy making

Lobbying and public affairs

See Finding a graduate job for more vacancy sources.