Whether you aspire to be the governor of your state or you just want to help others one on one, the path to a career in the public sector naturally starts with a solid education -- as well as some other important elements. Even if you haven’t yet entered a degree program, you have lots of opportunities that can help you get started.
A commitment to service
Those who work in the public sector typically have a commitment to helping others -- and doing that doesn’t require anything other than willing hands. To understand the needs of others and to develop a level of empathy that can serve you in your career, pursue volunteer opportunities. In your community, you might volunteer to serve meals in a soup kitchen or to read books to kids in your local library. At your school, hold a fundraising drive to raise money for a good cause, or take part in an organized service club. If you’re already working, talk to your employer about service opportunities you can launch on behalf of the company.
Pursue leadership opportunities
Work in the public sector and government also requires leadership -- something you can learn through those volunteer opportunities as well as in other facets of your life. If your company doesn’t already have a service program, offer to start it and lead it. When you volunteer, offer to be a team leader. Opportunities coaching baseball, leading a dance class or organizing a neighborhood cleanup can all help develop your leadership skills. Regardless, opportunities large and small can help you develop the skills it will take to guide you in your future career.
While not every political leader has a formal education, most do. Some study law or political science in college and then move onto graduate-level education to become lawyers or political analysts. Others begin by studying business and then demonstrating leadership in their own successful businesses, or working their way up the ranks to become company leaders. If you want to work in the public sector as a social worker, psychologist or in some other helping profession, you’ll typically study that discipline at the undergraduate level, and even pursue graduate-level education beyond that.
Find a mentor
Having someone to guide you along your path is another invaluable part of your career success. If you aspire to a career in politics, seek out student political clubs, where you’ll have opportunities to be matched with political mentors and be guided in the tenets of the various political parties. As soon as you’re old enough to vote, you’re also old enough to formally join a political party and to attend events where you can meet potential mentors. Often the key to finding a mentor is asking questions and being willing to help when and where you can.
For all professions, pursue an internship -- or even two or three of them -- during and after college, where you’ll be in close contact with people already working in your field. In politics, you might pursue internships with political parties, for a political campaign, or in a public relations firm that represents political candidates. For public sector jobs, look for internship opportunities in any of the public offices, both locally as well as nationally.
As you would in any new job, be helpful, willing to learn and willing to go the extra mile. Sometimes, internships can lead to paid positions -- helping launch your career even faster.
After completing all of these steps, you should have lots of rich experiences, a good education and even some work experience under your belt -- all great fodder for developing a solid resume. Not only that, but you should also have many connections that can help you work toward your successful career in politics or the public sector.
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