Careers concerning Elected Officials
Each aspect of government is full of elected and appointed officials and the staff that support them. Learn more about these roles below.
Elected Officials (Federal and State Officials, Regional and Local Officials) - Federal and State Officials hold positions in the legislative, executive, and judicial branch of federal and state government. Regional and Local Officials perform a variety of tasks that influence districts and towns, dealing with local infrastructure, crime, parks, schools, and various publicly funded events. Students who are interested in this career path typically intern/work for politicians and election campaigns on the federal, state, regional and local levels.
Campaign Managers - There are a number of different roles associated with political campaigns on the local, state, and national level. One of the main roles is that of the campaign manager. Campaign managers are responsible for finding the best way for the candidate to connect with the public. They are in charge of organizing the other campaign workers (volunteers, pollsters, consultants, etc.) to make sure all talents are best utilized. They also oversee the budget, fund-raising efforts, and general expenses of the campaign. Students who are interested in this line of work typically intern/volunteer for political campaigns, political clubs, and various lobby groups.
Press Secretary - Press secretaries work for elected government officials on all levels of government. They write press releases and opinion pieces on behalf of the official they represent. Students who are interested in this line of work typically work/intern for political campaigns, school newspaper and other media outlets, and stay up to date with political rhetoric.
Congressional Aides - Members of Congress (Senate and House of Representatives both) rely on aides to help them perform their duties. Staff of elected officials are divided into two groups: the Committee Staff and the Personal Staff. Committee Staff deal more with the construction of legislation while the Personal Staff work with the congress member concerning his/her home state. Congressional aides have roles such as Chief of Staff, office managers, administrative assistant secretaries, legislative directors, schedulers, etc. Please note that the education and experience requirements for these roles may vary, so be sure to check out multiple resources, such as the Senate page program and the House Employment Bulletin, for more information.
Careers in Government Agencies
You do not have to be a politician to work in the government! There are over 170 Federal Government agencies and many more opportunities in contract work. Here are some popular career paths that will help shape your exploration. If you would like to learn more, check out this page: https://gogovernment.org/.
Foreign Service Officers - Foreign Service Officers work all over the world representing the US Government. There are many different types of officers within the Foreign Service: commercial officers, who build trade overseas; political officers, who convey the views of the United States to foreign governments; management officers, who manage the day-to-day operations at an embassy; consular officers, who focus on border security; and economic officers, who work with the structure of a country’s economy. You can also serve the Foreign Service as a public diplomacy officer, performing diplomatic missions, as an information officer, who help other countries understand US policies, or as a cultural officer, who promotes the understanding of American culture and traditions. Students who are interested in the Foreign Service study international relations, intern at the U.S. Department of State, and prepare for the Foreign Service Exam.
Intelligence Officers - Intelligence officers gather, evaluate, and analyze information in order to aid political leaders. Though there are many different types of intelligence officers, we can generalize the field into three main types of intelligence operations: strategic intelligence (track world events and foreign politics), tactical intelligence (gather strategic intelligence in combat areas exclusively), and counterintelligence (protect national secrets and intelligence activities). The main employers of intelligence officers is the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), but intelligence officers are employed throughout the government and in the private sector. Students interested in intelligence often learn a foreign language, intern with an intelligence agency, and/or educate themselves of political hotspots which could make them a competitive candidate for employers.
United States Armed Forces - There are five facets of the United States Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. These branches are designed to work together to protect and support the national and international policies of the government. There are many different paths your career can take within the Armed Forces, including enlisted personnel, officers, engineers, doctors, intelligence officers, etc. Students who are interested in military service do a lot of research on the industry before enlisting or joining the ROTC Program. Below are some resources that can help you get started.
Defense - Many industries, like the Defense industry, offer a plethora of contract jobs for a range of different skill sets. Right now, scientists and engineers of all kinds are in high demand in the post 9/11 landscape of defense, as well as architects, environmental scientists, and astrophysicists. There are a number of different ways to get involved in this industry, but the best way to start is by looking up the major players: Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA), Council of Defense and Space Industry Associations (CODISA), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and, of course, the Department of Defense (DoD).
Urban and Regional Planners - Urban and regional planners help develop and maintain designed communities by integrating new buildings, houses, and sites into the landscape of an area or city. There are many different types of urban and regional planners, including human services planners (develop and maintain health and social services for residents), historical preservation planners (work towards the preservation of historical monuments and buildings), transportation planners (oversee the transportation and infrastructure of the community), housing and community development planners (identify and analyze the housing needs of a community), economic development planners (attract and retain industries in a community), environmental planners (advocate for environmental issues in building construction, land use, and the community at large), urban design planners (design public facilities to serve the larger community), and international development planners (aide in the design of underdeveloped countries). Like many other jobs within this cluster, networking is key to landing a job in urban and regional planning.
U.S. Embassy: Diplomacy at Work by Shawn Dorman
Jobs with JD
You guessed it! Many students who are interested in law go to law school. Here are some of the career paths you can pursue with a law degree.
Judges - Judges are elected or appointed to preside over federal, state, or municipal courts. They apply the effects of US law and have the ability to give new rulings on issues that have not been addressed thoroughly in the past. Students interested in this career path intern or work with lawyers or judges and apply to law school.
Lawyers - Lawyers or attorneys are the advocates and/or advisors in our legal system. Lawyers work on behalf of individuals, corporations, companies, or the government itself. They advocate for the rights of their client in front of administrative and government bodies and also counsel clients in their personal and business affairs in terms of the law (think purchase of property, writing of wills, etc.). Students who are interested in this career intern or work at a law firm to gain experience and apply for law school.
What are the different types of law that lawyers practice?
There are many different types of law that lawyers can specialize in. The main specializations are listed below.
International Law: International Law governs the relationship of countries and sovereign states. Lawyers in this field work with agreements, treaties, and other international matters. Learn more here: http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/international-law-and-justice/index.html.
Criminal Law: Criminal law governs criminal offences. Lawyers in this field defend and prosecute on behalf of criminal actions ranging from murder to piracy. Learn more here: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/free-guides/areas-legal-practice/how-to-become-a-criminal-lawyer-criminal-law/.
Corporate Law: Corporate law specifically pertains to companies. Lawyers in this field negotiate and draft agreements and carry out due diligence. Learn more here: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/free-guides/areas-legal-practice/how-to-become-a-corporate-lawyer-corporate-law/.
Labor Law: Labor Law governs employment and labor relations. Lawyers in this field provide legal counsel and represent individual employees, labor unions, or employers. Learn more here: https://study.com/articles/How_to_Become_a_Labor_Lawyer_Education_and_Career_Roadmap.html .
Administrative Law/ Public Law: Administrative Law/ Public Law pertains to the relationship of the government and its citizens. Lawyers in this field cover a wide range of legal discuss including constitutional law, criminal law, tax law, human rights law, to name a few. Learn more here: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/free-guides/areas-legal-practice/become-public-lawyer-public-law/ .
Constitutional Law: Constitutional Law governs the interpretation, implementation and amending of the US Constitution. Lawyers in this field are concerned with social and political issues, bringing them to the attention of the court and the government. Learn more here: http://legalcareerpath.com/what-is-constitutional-law/.
Private Law: Private Law, as its name states, governs private matters. Lawyers in this field work closely with rights and obligations of individuals, families, businesses, and small groups, practicing contract law, tort law, property law, succession law, etc. Learn more here: https://study.com/academy/lesson/public-law-vs-private-law-definitions-and-differences.html.
Banking and Finance Law: Banking and Finance Law governs the legal aspects of finance. Lawyers in this field are concerned with the borrowing and lending of money between companies, banks, or individuals. Learn more here: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/free-guides/areas-legal-practice/how-to-become-a-banking-and-finance-lawyer/.
Commercial Law: Commercial law pertains to intellectual property, franchising and litigation. Lawyers in this field work with businesses and commercial transactions, provide legal advice or representation. Learn more here: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/free-guides/areas-legal-practice/how-to-become-a-commercial-lawyer-commercial-law/ .
Family Law: Family Law governs a wide range of legal issues, all pertaining to the family. Lawyers in this field conduct divorce proceedings, adoptions, pre-nuptial agreements, as well as issues of domestic violence to name a few. Learn more here: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/free-guides/areas-legal-practice/how-to-become-a-family-lawyer-family-law/ .
Media Law: Media Law governs what can be published or broadcast. Lawyers in this field work with intellectual property law across the creative spectrum: theater to music to film to published works. Learn more here: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/free-guides/areas-legal-practice/how-to-become-a-media-lawyer-media-law/.
What Can I do with this major? Law and Justice
Jobs in Law without a JD?
There are many jobs in this field that do not require a JD. Learn more below.
Paralegal - Paralegals, or legal assistants, deal with trial preparation, perform research, prepare legal documents, and overall assist lawyers and legislators. Depending on the law firm, the duties of a paralegal may vary wildly. Students who are interested in this career path, intern or work at a law firm and possibly go on to get their paralegal certification (though certification is not always required).
Mediator - Due to the growing cost of legal counsel, more and more individuals have been hiring mediators instead. Mediators oversee negotiations and settlements, provide advice, and overall bring the two disagreeing parties to a middle ground. Mediators also prepare court reports, social case histories, and other relevant documents. Though a law degree is not required to become a mediator, many mediators are lawyers and former judges. Students who are interested in this career path will educate themselves on legal matters, intern or interview a mediator, and decide what next steps are best for them.
Jury Consultant - As experts in human behavior, jury consultants work with attorneys for jury selection and have become integral to any trial. They research jurors, create juror profiles, assist in juror evaluations, provide insight to lawyers of juror’s body language during the trial, and help lawyers develop arguments and strategies to play to the jury’s mindset. Students who are interested in this career intern/work at law firms, pursue graduate work in behavioral science, and educate themselves on this field to find their best next steps.