Then a stint in national politics may be for you. And instead of thinking of it as a career detour, you should think of it as a career enhancer because the contacts you make and the knowledge of the governmental process you gain are usually very valuable to an employer after politics.
Political Career Strategies
There are two basic strategies for getting into politics; first, starting out and working your way up, and second, building an area of expertise first and then later on seeking to transfer in at a higher level. Exactly which one is best for you depends on your age and experience.
Internships, fellowships and volunteering are the traditional ways for someone just starting out. In essence, they give you a chance to “show your stuff” and parlay that into a paying job. There are “senior” and “junior” internships, some of the former being paid, the latter usually unpaid.
The latter include internships at the two political parties, Congress and the White House for students with little or no experience. Senior internships include such programs as the Presidential Management Intern program, the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Fellowship, or the White House Fellows program. Many people have gotten full-time jobs in Congress or the White House after starting out in either the senior or junior programs.
Transferring in at a higher level is often done from think tanks, academic institutions, business firms, law firms, interest groups, trade associations, and labor unions, to mention a few.