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What careers are available to me as a Political Science major looking to work at a business firm?

I am a political science major looking to enter the consulting profession but I do not know a lot of people who are consultants or majored in the same thing I did. I would like to receive guidance and come up with a career path to enter the business world as a non-business major.

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Magny’s Answer

Hi Kayla,

It's great to hear about your interest in consulting. Consulting is a diverse field that values a variety of educational backgrounds, including political science. Here are some tips to help you navigate your journey into consulting.

1. Identify Your Transferable Skills
As a political science major, you've likely developed strong analytical thinking, problem-solving, research, and communication skills - all of which are highly desirable in consulting. Start by identifying these transferable skills and think about how they can be applied in a consulting context.

2. Expand Your Business Acumen
Even though you're a non-business major, it's essential to have a basic understanding of business principles. You might consider taking some business-related courses or certifications, or self-study areas such as finance, marketing, and strategy. Online platforms like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy offer courses that can help you build this knowledge.

3. Network
Networking is crucial in the consulting industry. Start by reaching out to alumni from your university who are currently in consulting roles. LinkedIn is a useful tool for this. You could also attend career fairs, industry events, or consulting firm information sessions to meet professionals in the field.

4. Gain Relevant Experience
Internships, case competitions, and consulting projects can provide you with hands-on experience and enhance your resume. Look for opportunities within your university or local community where you can apply your skills in a real-world context.

5. Prepare for the Interview Process
Consulting interviews often include case studies, where you'll need to solve a business problem on the spot. Start practicing case interviews early. Books like Case In Point provide resources and practice cases.

6. Craft Your Story
Finally, be ready to articulate why you want to transition from political science to consulting. Your unique background can bring a fresh perspective to the business world, so make sure you highlight this in your applications and interviews.

Remember, many successful consultants come from non-business backgrounds, bringing diverse perspectives and skills to their roles. With focus, preparation, and the right approach, you can certainly break into the consulting profession. Good luck!
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Dan’s Answer

Hi! I was also a political science major and have worked in banking, finance, and compliance my entire career. A mentor said to me once when I said I wanted to go into consulting that consulting is something you usually do when you've worked a substantial time in a particular field. That's not necessarily the case today, but there is still truth in that. If being called a "consultant" is important to you, companies like mine, Deloitte, have entry level positions in fields like Government & Public Services that hire new college grads into jobs where you can learn any number of disciplines where we do consulting work. If you have a particular field you are interested in, such as finance or accounting or marketing, you could find work at a firm and build your knowledge in a particular area that calls to you. From there, you can continue to grow in that field while building a network to the point where you could go to work as a consultant in that business either on your own or with a consulting firm. All business have "consultants". It just depends on where you want to focus.
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Mike’s Answer

An effective way to distinguish yourself is by crafting a persuasive narrative that explains why consulting is the perfect match for you. This involves more than just a general interest in the consulting field; it requires a specific focus on a particular firm or even a specific practice within that firm. Those who derive personal satisfaction from their work are more likely to thrive because even if they lack certain skills initially, their drive to bridge any skill gaps and excel is heightened.

Hence, it's crucial to comprehend what you seek from your consulting career, align that with a firm/role that can fulfill your aspirations, and then articulate that story during your interviews. This approach will showcase a robust mutual compatibility that is likely to be more appealing to a hiring manager. This is compared to a candidate who possesses all the necessary skills but may not be as enthusiastic about the position because it doesn't cater to their unique personal goals.

Mike recommends the following next steps:

Think about and articulate why your have an interest in consulting and what goals you have from a career in consulting with as much specificity as you can.
Research firms with an eye to how well or poorly suited they are to aligning with your interests and goals.
"Interview" firms for their fit for your interests and needs during the recruiting process.
Craft as story to tell during your interviews that describes both the fit of the firm/role to your aspirations and demonstrates your ability to deliver well in the role.
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Matt’s Answer

A few options I could think of include:

1. Public Relations Specialist
2. Market Research Analyst
3. Policy Analyst
4. Human Resources Specialist
5. Management Consultant
6. Lobbyist
7. Business Development Manager
8. Compliance Officer
9. Political Consultant
10. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Coordinator
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Laura’s Answer

I think the responses provided above are great advice - but to offer a different suggestion, would you consider going into sales? a sales position is a great way to learn about all different aspects of the business, and getting a front row seat to see challenges and solutions (both in your clients organization, and in the company you work for). This could provide you some experience and make you an appealing candidate for a future consulting role.
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Jill’s Answer

Hi! This is a great question; figuring out your next steps post-grad can be challenging, especially when there is not a direct connection between your major and your desired career path. I have a degree in Politics & International Affairs and went on to join a management consulting firm. The best way to break into these kinds of fields as a non-business major is to attend the career fairs at your school; make connections with people who are representing the firms you're interested in. I would recommend reaching out to folks on LinkedIn who are alumni of your school who work at firms you can see yourself at. LinkedIn is a great resource to help you get connected with people who might be able to steer you in the direction of a recruiter. Check the firms' websites for entry-level job openings and apply to the ones sound like they will fit you best; once you're in the system of the company your resume will show up for any other future job openings you apply for. Firms are not always only looking for business majors; they want to see a high level of critical thinking, problem solving, and ability to work in diverse teams, so don't get discouraged just because your degree is in the social sciences!
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Craig’s Answer

Most large management consulting firms have large government practices that provide different opportunities to work on various types of projects across public sector and government agencies.
There would be myriad opportunities (sometimes you may need to squint to see the connections) to be part of engagements that support delivery of essential government services.
Look at websites for companies like Deloitte and its GPS (government and public sector practice) to see available roles and try to go to career fairs at your university.
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Michael’s Answer

Management consulting is a great field to go into as someone with a political science background. For campus hires, management consulting firms are typically looking for transferrable skills rather than any specific industry background or knowledge. Some skills that you develop in the social sciences that are transferrable to consulting and good to emphasize include:
-The ability to develop hypotheses based on preliminary information and structure analyses to validate the hypotheses
-Clear and concise writing and communication skills
-Strong data and statistical literacy, including the ability to analyze and interpret data and draw conclusions from that data
-The ability to research new topics and quickly synthesize information across a wide array of sources to develop insights

More generally, consulting firms are looking for "generalist" skills that don't require any specific industry or business background, including executive presence, and collaborative and team-centric attitude, and general curiosity and problem-solving skills. With that said, it still is important to have a general understanding of business and economic trends as you go into consulting interviews, so I strongly encourage regularly consuming business and economic news from any national, mainstream publication. This will give you a good grounding in the environment in which businesses are currently operating (e.g., the growth of GenAI, a tight labor market and competition for talent, elevated interest rates and a higher cost of capital). And relatedly, going into interviews, it's also good to be able to speak to what industries, in general, you are interested in and have some general perspectives on what interests you about those industries. Your interests certainly don't require any deep or specific knowledge of the industry, but it's good to have a perspective here to demonstrate curiosity and enthusiasm about the work you'll be doing.
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Arjun’s Answer

Hi Kayla,

There are many fields that you could get job in. I'm a consultant and I know of many colleagues who had a similar background as yours. Consulting values transferrable skills and would be a great stepping stone for you to navigate different industries and nature of work. Happy to give your resume a look if you needed help articulating your skills and to connect you with folks in consulting with a similar background.
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Miriam C’s Answer

Hi Kayla! I was once in your shoes, trying to figure out what to major in. My decision led me to double major in Political Science and Communication Studies, and I even added a minor in Legal Studies during my undergraduate years.

At present, I work as a Government and Public Services (GPS) Analyst. Like you, I didn't realize that a Political Science degree could lead to a career in consulting until I had the chance to participate in several externships in my third year of college.

I wish I had known sooner that the knowledge and skills you gain from studying Political Science can be invaluable in the consulting field. They can help you bring a unique perspective to your work. As for the technical skills needed in consulting, you can pick them up through online courses or certification programs. For instance, Deloitte encourages its employees to continually learn and develop these skills, no matter what their academic backgrounds are.

When it comes to planning your career, I highly recommend connecting with professionals on LinkedIn who are doing the kind of work that you find interesting or would like to do. Most people are more than willing to have a quick 15-minute chat about their careers and experiences. Ask them things like: How did you get your current job? What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? What do you love or find most challenging about your job? This can give you a clearer idea of what a career in consulting involves and how others have gotten into the field. For example, I didn't know that the recruiting timelines in the consulting industry are different from those in other industries.

Lastly, I encourage you to look for internships or projects that truly excite you and spark your curiosity! A genuine interest and enthusiasm for your work can guide you in any career and help you build real connections with your coworkers.

Best of luck on your journey!
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Aysha’s Answer

Hello Kayla!

A degree in political science offers a wide array of potential career paths. Here are a few professions that I think might be a good match for someone with your educational background:

*Government or federal employment: For instance, the U.S. State Department has numerous divisions that need individuals with a robust background in international relations and political science. You might find opportunities to work with policy makers, attorneys, lobbyists, journalists, and more.

*Federal contractor: This is another viable option where your political science knowledge can be put to good use.

*Consultant/Analyst at a major consulting firm: These firms often need professionals who can provide advice on policy analysis and public administration.

*Investigative journalism: Your understanding of policy can be a valuable asset when exploring different political environments and jurisdictions. This profession also allows you to utilize your skills in detailed report writing and investigation, if that's an area you're interested in!

As you start exploring potential roles, I'm confident you'll discover a wealth of other opportunities. Wishing you all the best on your journey, and remember to keep pursuing knowledge with enthusiasm!
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Josephine’s Answer

Hi Kayla,

I am a fellow non-business major who ended up getting my MBA. Perusing an MBA after working for a few years can be a good way to gain business credentials and help enable a transition into a new career.

Another thing to consider is that many large companies (think Banks) offer rotational development programs to recent college graduates. A rotational development program typically gives you exposure to different lines of business within a firm. These programs often emphasize training and encourage exploration. Because of this many of them will accept "non-traditional" majors.
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Mantas’s Answer

Consultancies are always seeking fresh perspectives. While specific industry knowledge or a business degree can be a plus, what truly sets consultants apart is their problem-solving approach and communication. Consulting firms were first launch by engineers, not business oriented folks.

The key to getting into these consultancies? Network and prep for the interview so you nail the case. The key here is just being able to clearly articulate and document your train of thought. Showcase how you approach a problem, break it down into its bits and pieces, and then surface it all up into recommendations and actions.
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Sue’s Answer

I was also a political science major and ended up getting a first job in consulting. My interviewer was looking for people with good communication skills and had good intellectual curiosity. These are soft skills that are not necessarily connected to educational background. I mostly gained knowledge required for work through on-the-job trainings and that is perfectly fine and normal.
Also, there are different types of consulting (management consulting, financial consulting, IT consulting, HR consulting, etc.), and it's worthwhile to consider what kind of consulting you want to do, if it is important for you to utilize what you have learned in school!
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Tatiana’s Answer

Hi, Kayla! So nice to hear about your interest in consulting as a polisci major. I was a polisci major myself and have been in consulting for the past five years. The beauty of consulting is the variety of different experiences and perspectives being brought together to provide clients with multidimensional solutions. My degree especially equipped me to be able to think about complex problems in a variety of ways. For instance, studying international relations and global history allowed me to appreciate my clients' and colleagues' perspectives with greater nuance and sensitivity. Studying government structures and the role of society enabled me to better understand challenges from both a structural and business standpoint.
Additionally, polisci degrees highlight really critical skills that are easily transferable to consulting, like verbal and written communications, in-depth researching, analytical and comparative skills, as well as devising solutions within a variety of different global, political, economic, and cultural contexts.
I recommend you focus on building those skills and taking every opportunity to practice those skills outside of the classroom as well. I was fortunate enough to be able to intern at the state, local, and federal levels as well as in private industry and am extremely grateful for those opportunities, as I was better able to understand the specific fields that were of interest to me as well as build meaningful relationships that I have continued to this day. Remember, it's sometimes not just what you know but who you know, as well!
Wishing you all the success!
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Will’s Answer

Hi Kayla,

Great question! Breaking into consulting can be challenging, but also worthwhile. I came from a non-traditional background as well (started in ministry after school before switching to consulting!) and these actions helped me.

1. Network! Don't be afraid to reach out to people and do an informational interview. Simply ask if you can speak to someone for 15-30 minutes and then ask them more about their job- what is the day to day like? Career path? Anything you could think of. As you network, you may even find connections to companies you'd never considered!

2. Work on your "elevator pitch". What I mean by this is have a concise why- why are you interested in consulting? What skills do you think you could bring to a team? Consider how your degree and experiences have equipped you with transferrable skills and strengths and be prepared to speak to those items.

3. Take advantage of the resources your school has to offer- whether this be career advising, resume development, networking opportunities, etc. Of particular importance could be the alumni network! If you can find an alum who is now working at one of the firms you are interested in, be sure to reach out!

4. Cast a wide net. Getting a job can be difficult and competitive, so even though it is good to have a favorite or preferred firm, don't get down on yourself if that doesn't work! It just takes one firm to give you an opportunity and then you have a start to a career that will last years.
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Caroline’s Answer

You are already way ahead of where I was! I got my undergrad degree in Political Science before pursuing my Master in International Affairs (after a couple of years working for an international NGO). I actually found out about consulting through my graduate school's alumni network. My resume ended up being passed along to a recruiter and they reached out to me to interview! I spent the next 3+ years consulting for the Department of Defense, doing everything from creating war games to strategic communication campaigns. Here's what I found out about consulting (without an MBA):
- Most consulting firms have a big GPS (Government and Public Sector arm) and it's only growing
- Having a clearance (from a previous job or internship) gives you a huge leg up!
- LinkedIn is a good place to start to just search different companies/firms (start by looking specifically in DC - that's not where all jobs are! I started in Denver. But it gives you a good idea of firms out there and you can see if they have regional roles)
- NETWORK! If you meet someone you find interesting - ask for their contact and reach out! Avoid generic reach outs, show that you remember them and specific things or reasons why you want to talk to them