Here at Radford, we are working hard to help students get jobs after their degree.
LIBERAL ARTS STRENGTHS
Majoring in one of the liberal arts (English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, etc.) does not prepare one for A career; it prepares one for several by emphasizing:
- Research skills;
- Clear, succinct, and focused writing and communication skills;
- The application of ideas to practical problems;
- Flexibility and adaptability; and
- Curiosity about the world at large.
Liberal arts majors do get jobs. They are qualified for almost any entry level white collar job that does not require specific scientific or technical skills. Many employers hire liberal arts majors over other majors because their educational background makes them easy to train and their knowledge of history and culture assist them in dealing with clients and dealing with new market trends. A survey of employers for the American Association of Colleges & Universities (It Takes More than a Major, 2013) found that critical thinking, clear communication, and problem solving were more important than any particular undergraduate major in hiring decisions. These are exactly the skills developed and reinforced in Radford’s general education and Political Science curricula.
A 2009 survey published by the Wall Street Journal indicated that the starting salaries of political science majors (median=$40,800) were higher than those of many other majors—including many business majors.
Political science majors may be found working for state and local government, the federal government, think tanks, political parties, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. They are analysts, lawyers, lobbyists, aid workers, researchers, FBI agents, campaign workers, Peace Corps volunteers, non-profit executive directors, budget analysts, teachers, civil servants, Foreign Service officers, public relations officers, journalists, fund raisers, pollsters, judges, activists, editors, professors, and sales representatives.
AT RADFORD, FOR SUCCESS AFTER RADFORD
To make the most AFTER Radford, here are some things Political Science students should be doing AT Radford:
- Take our new Political Science careers class. This should be on stream starting in the 2015-2016 academic year. It will expose students to professionals in a variety of Political Science-related careers. It will also help them to prepare professional job application documents like resumes and cover letters. Further, students will be able to improve their skills in job search. Contact Dr. Tan (email@example.com) for more information.
- Work with Career Services to complete a Focus 2 Career Assessment. This helps to match students’ values and aptitudes with those of different careers they might be interested in.
- Get help from Career Services to prepare professional job application documents: resumes, cover letters, and personal statements.
- Go meet with professors in Political Science and other departments to learn how to interact in an adult professional context. Take advantage of the possibility of a close mentoring relationship with your faculty members. Get involved in your professors’ research projects to upgrade your skills and develop lines for your resume.
- Attend talks on campus to broaden your knowledge of local, national, and world affairs. Think critically. Ask questions. Stay after the talk and introduce yourself to the speaker/s. Try to learn from these wonderful resources brought to our campus. You can keep up with happenings at the Radford University Events page or at News and Events on the Political Science webpage.
- Join a campus club and be an active member/leader. Political Science sponsors both the Political Science Society and the Model United Nations Club. There is also a regular Club Fair where you can learn about other opportunities on campus. Show that you can create something, be passionate, and see something through to success. This will mean a lot to employers. Check out Student Activities.
- Study abroad to show you are international, adaptable, and self-reliant. These are important skills employers look for. You can study abroad for the price of being in Radford. Talk to Dr. Tan, the Department’s study abroad advisor, to find out how. Go to the International Education Center.
- Complete an internship or multiple internships during your College years. You can do them during the academic semester or during summers. Internships help to augment skills, build a track record, and develop a network. They can also help undecided students discover desirable career fields. Good internships need to be sought months in advance (October for the following Summer), so start looking early. Internships during the academic year can be easier to get than summer internships since the pool of students searching is smaller. Consider the academic year to get an internship in Washington, DC or another big city. Go to the POSC Department internships webpage.
- If you can’t do an internship, what about volunteering for a local organization? There is an annual volunteer and service fair on campus. What about shadowing a Radford alum in his/her job for a short period? Talk to Career Services about both of those opportunities.
- Read a quality news publication regularly. This will enable you to discuss national and world affairs at a professional level with future colleagues.
- Work with Career Services to conduct informational interviews of alumni in fields you are interested in. They can serve as important sources of information (do you really want to do what they do all day??) and they can serve as vital first building blocks of students’ professional networks. Most jobs today are obtained through networks, not open application processes.
- Get an account on LinkedIn and start building your online network. Give to the network to get from the network.
- Pick a major/concentration and minor that you can do well in and that helps to get you to the next stage in your life, whether that’s a job or graduate school. Are you interested in working for the FBI? Study Political Science and pair that with study of a strategic language (Arabic, Chinese, and Russian are offered at Radford). Do you want to work for an aid agency? Study Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration. Mix that with a minor in International Studies and a senior project on the aid industry.
- Do well in your classes. Don’t just phone it in or settle for the minimum effort. The world belongs to those who seize the day.
- Be sure to develop a 30 second to 2 minute “elevator speech” where you sell your candidacy for a job or school to a person who can make a difference (imagine you’ve only got the short time you’re both in the elevator. What do you say?).
Understand the value of your general education and Political Science education and be able to sell that to potential employers. You are developing your skills in oral and written communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, ethical analysis, research, and information literacy in addition to your substantive knowledge in the field of politics.
HOW TO FIND JOBS:
Learn how to write a strong cover letter to accompany your resume in your job applications (Find tips at Purdue University’s OWL).
Search the employment page of organizations’ website to learn about available positions; required knowledge, skills, and abilities; and application procedures.
Indeed.com is another job search site, particularly useful if you are interested in finding a position in a particular town/region.