Hi Deana. Great question, and I encourage you never to lose sight of your goals or to have that passion for helping your community out fizzle out. I had a somewhat similar problem, as my major and my classes didn’t focus on the types of policy that are immediately relevant to the municipal or school setting policy areas that I could immediately affect. However, there are ways to get up to speed. See the below recommended steps I thought might be helpful to remind you of. Good luck!
Brandon recommends the following next steps:
- Read up on your school’s standing policies, or your student government’s standing Bylaws, Constitution, Charter, and any pieces of legislation written by your peers* (bills, resolutions, directives, etc.)
- Try finding a policy focused political science class, such as a National Security seminar or American Congress Lab. These may not be as realistic or close to home as you like, but it’s good to be exposed to the legalese, and get used to the actual formatting of policy briefings/documents—regardless of the context/content.
- Try finding an internship for a law office, a local politician, or a non profit that specializes in policy drafting.
- Take some time to read policy briefs and policy manifestos from the two major Political Parties (e.g. The 2016 Democratic Party/GOP Platforms). It’s good to remind yourself of who may be more welcome to your ideas and who won’t be, and, again, helps you with the language commonplace in policy marketing, formulation, and implementation.
- Stay up to date on pressing issues in any organization or community that could use some help and offers institutional pathways towards addressing its needs. It’s particularly useful to get to really know the institutional levers and machinery of the organization you work for...get into the minutiae—the boring stuff is sometimes the most critical.