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Will double majoring in Public Health Policy and Political Science serve as a good first step to become a politically involved public official?

I aspire to become a public official in a community, such as a mayor etc. I want to become more informed about politics, law and how communities work in order to help guide and improve them. #law #government #politics

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Krista’s Answer

It is perfect timing for this potential career pathway! Becoming an expert in a public policy area such as health care is an ideal platform for public service. Volunteer to gain experience on a campaign or work with a nonprofit organization to hone your skills. Ask your local elected officials for guidance or shadow them for a day. As a constituent more than likely they will respond to your request. Learn the very basics of government, how it is funded, and understand each departmental function. Reach out to community leaders and also ask them for input regarding the needs of your particular municipality. Build your network of allies to set the foundation for public service. Good luck!
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Kara’s Answer

Great question and I commend you for aspiring to become a community political leader. I would however caution you in the double major combination you have proposed, whereas the Political Science major would most definitely equip you with the tools needed to be a successful public official, the Public Health Policy major could perhaps limit your perspective. An officeholder should have a broad perspective on many issues, and while some legislators at the community and state level "specialize" in health-related issues, the opportunities to be elected and serve on a health committee or be able to focus solely on public health policies are relatively few.


To be sufficiently prepared for a career in municipal politics after finishing your undergraduate degree it would be best to double major in Political Science and another subject specialization that will allow for you to get a grasp on topics, strategies and thought processes that are closely related to municipal politics, such as:


• Business Administration
• Economics with a focus on behavioral economics
• Management
• Philosophy with a focus on the work of political philosophers such as Rawls, Mills, and Hobbes
• Public Administration
• Sociology with a focus on organizational change theory


If public health policy is of great interest to you then consider pursuing an MPH with a policy specialization after you graduate.


You may want to consider subscribing to updates from the City Mayors website for it has lots of information concerning the political roles of mayors throughout the US. They also have a FB and Twitter account:
http://www.citymayors.com/mayors/us-mayors.html


I hope this helped and good luck! :)

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Joseph’s Answer

On the elected side, you presumably wouldn't be running for mayor right out of college (though it does happen), so you would be looking at positions on the staff of elected officials. The best way to learn more about those is to do internships for elected officials and to volunteer for political campaigns. Usually when someone wins, the people on their campaign become part of their staff. Those jobs are mostly about being connected to the right people at the right time.

On the government side, the best way to figure out what degree makes the most sense is to look at job postings for entry-level positions and see what they are asking for. Local and state governments all have their own hiring portals and all federal government hiring is done through usajobs.gov. I can only speak to federal jobs, but the way it works is that you can qualify for jobs with a combination of experience and education. Many jobs require a college degree and most specialized jobs require experience or education in that field. Frankly, the degree really only gets you in the door. After your first job, what degree, what school, and what GPA you have doesn't come up much unless you are trying to get into a specific field like public health. Personally, I don't see much value in a general degree like political science because so many people have them. The only jobs that qualifies you for are jobs you could get with just about any college degree. A more specialized degree opens all the same doors, plus a few that the general degree doesn't. Until you get to the graduate level, such as with a doctorate, you don't need to worry that your degree will lock you out of many jobs.

You should also try internships with government. It's easier to get hired if you already have a connection there, it's a way to see how government actually works, and you can learn about what interests you.
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