How did being a political science major prepare you for your career?
There were two main aspects of majoring in political science that were very useful to me as I developed my career. First, the ability to think at a systems-level. This means looking at issues like poverty, climate change, gender inequality, war, etc at a large scale, and examining how they function, how they interrelate, and how they are changed. So, rather than thinking of an issue or an event as isolated, you can start to look at it as a piece of something larger. In my most recent job, we looked at education systems in several countries, and how they interrelate with issues such as poverty. Then, we worked to find tangible solutions to improve the education systems, which would also positively affect the related issues.
Second, when I studied political science, I chose courses that had an international focus, and often with a social justice emphasis, because I’m interested in learning how we, as a country, affect the world and vice versa. A key part of this for me was studying abroad for a year. If you have the chance, I highly recommend it! This sparked my passion for travel, where I continued to learn about our impact on the world. Since I decided to pursue international nonprofit work, this direct experience of travel and learning about international relations was key in developing my career.
Finally, I may decide to pursue law school down the road, and a political science major also is a great base for the type of thinking required to become a lawyer.
What would you tell those considering a degree in political science?
If you’re on the fence about whether to study political science, consider that it is not exclusively for those interested in becoming a politician or a lawyer. It’s a very diverse degree that you can customize to your interests. It also leaved a lot of open doors, as it’s appealing for jobs in the business world, nonprofits, government, and international work.
Try out some unique classes, starting with a wide variety, and then narrow and deepen your studies once something really sparks your interest. For me, it was gender equality and human rights issues.
Also, become active in the issues you’re interested outside of class. You could try joining (or starting) a club, or finding work during the summer or on the weekends that ties in with those interests. If you only have a few extra hours, try volunteering for a local nonprofit. The goal is to immerse yourself in issues that you are passionate about. If you can get off campus and meet some of the community while you’re at it, even better! There’s a lot in Spokane if you go out and look for it.