Poli-Sci in the Real World: A Look at Experts in the Field

Majoring in Political Science doesn't mean you have to run for office someday. Here's a look at seven professionals and how they use their Poli-Sci degrees.

Dr. Andrew Rehfeld teaches Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis and says his students have gone into a wide range of jobs. Some work with nonprofit organizations, some work in journalism, and some get jobs where they analyze data, to name a few. “I have a lot of students go into law, but more go into community organizations,” he says. “They’re usually politically related, but they’re not politicians.”

Rehfeld says many students declare a major in Political Science because they like discussing current events, then they’re surprised that in class that they’re more likely to talk about subjects like mathematical models predicting court decisions. “Political scientists are trained to think on their feet,” says Dr. Kimberly Mealy of the American Political Science Association. “They also know and understand the workings of political institutions.” Studying Congress and the Supreme Court means learning how to write, argue, and analyze. Wondering what else you can do with a Political Science degree? These professionals talked about their jobs and how the skills they learned in class help them every day.

Johanna Moss, Education Associate at the National Museum of American Jewish History

BA in Political Science, Bloomsburg University
MA in Jewish Communal Service, Gratz College

“I ended up in Political Science because I had professors who really cared about me and who I still communicate with to this day,” Moss says. Her education gave a foundation for observing current events and politics locally, nationally, and around the world. That’s important in her job—especially keeping up with what’s happening in Israel and the Jewish community. Moss coordinates tours and special programs at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Now she’s training 60 volunteer docents who will guide visitors to the museum’s new building when it opens in November.

Related: What Can I Do With a Political Science Degree? 

Michael Karsch, Founding Partner and Portfolio Manager at Karsch Capital Management

BA in Political Science, Tufts University
MA in Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
MBA, Harvard University

Karsch runs a hedge fund with about 200 clients, including pension plans and endowments for hospitals and colleges. His firm makes clients’ savings grow, mostly in the stock market. Not everyone who wants to work in business has to go to business school, Karsch says. But if you want to work in that field and study something else, he says it’s important to have a reason for picking a different major, set a goal, and work to achieve it. Karsch uses skills he learned by majoring in Political Science—like critical thinking—every day since he needs to do research before picking stocks. “I always talk about term papers at work,” he says. “A great paper has a hypothesis and it proves that hypothesis through research.”

Katy Hall, Corporate Development Manager at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

BA in History and Political Science, University of Notre Dame
MA in Arts Administration, Indiana University

Hall’s primary major was History, and she’s always loved the arts. At Notre Dame, she sang in the choir, worked on plays, and played trombone in the marching band. Now she asks companies for donations to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. For example, she might ask a law firm to sponsor a concert or series of concerts in return for tickets. Her job requires a lot of skills she learned in her political science classes, like research, thinking short- and long-term, writing, and persuasion. “Political Science majors end up learning to argue very well,” Hall says. “In fundraising, I’m constantly making my case.”

Related: A Passion for the Past: How to Use a History Degree

Brian Bunkelman, Account Executive at NBC 26

BA in Political Science, St. Norbert College

Bunkelman says going to a liberal arts college helped him prepare for many jobs, including his current role selling TV advertisements at a station in Green Bay, Wisconsin. After graduation, he worked for the Schneider National trucking company in several departments, including sales. He enjoys sales because he likes meeting people. “You get to go out and talk and meet with people every day,” he says. Understanding politics helps him relate to people when he first meets them by discussing current events, which goes a long way. “You always have to have a conversation starter,” Bunkelman says. “No one likes to talk to a salesperson.”

Amanda Granrud, Director of the Writing Center and Academic Success at the University of Nebraska—Kearney

BA in Political Science and Speech Communication Theory, Carroll College
MA in Communication Studies/Rhetoric, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

Granrud picked her majors because her extracurricular activities in high school and college included speech and debate. Later, she developed an interest in learning and teaching writing. At UNK, she runs the writing center and offices that provide student services like tutoring. She says Political Science taught her to form arguments, think critically, and write. It also taught her how to consider multiple viewpoints on one issue, which has been helpful in the college classes she’s taught. And learning about international politics helps her relate to students from other countries. “I developed a sensitivity and an appreciation for different cultures and different political systems and how that affects language,” she says.

Related: Writing Center 101: Boost Your Skills With This Campus Resource

Mark DiMassimo, CEO and Chief Creative Officer at DIGO

BA in Political Science, Purchase College

DiMassimo went to his college’s career development office for pointers on what kind of job to pursue. He was given two suggestions: campaigning and advertising. So he talked to people in both fields. “The advertising people just seemed happier,” DiMassimo says. Now he runs an advertising and marketing agency and can’t think of a situation where he doesn’t use his Political Science degree. His education gives him a perspective from which to observe how and why society changes. "When you study Political Science, you’re basically studying case studies of why groups of people do what they do,” DiMassimo says. “You’re studying ideas and their impact on people, and I’m in a business that’s all about ideas.”

Bryan Abramson, Director of Development at the National Alliance on Mental Illness

BA in Political Science, Towson University
MA in Jewish Communal Service, Gratz College

Abramson comes from a family of lawyers, and at first he wanted to attend law school too. Then he decided to work for a nonprofit organization instead. At the Delaware chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Wilmington, Abramson plans fundraising campaigns and looks for donations from companies, foundations, and individuals. He enjoys working behind the scenes so his organization can continue its work. His degree works because politics is everywhere. Knowing that helps him understand how people work together and how to convince them to donate. “It’s meeting the right people,” Abramson says. “‘What we can do for you, what you can do for us.’”

Related: Careers for People Who Want to Work With People 

Clearly, political science isn’t just for lawyers (or professors or politicians, for that matter). A degree in Poli-Sci gives you skills like analytical thinking, writing, and arguing when you need to. Knowing how to do these things will take you far, no matter what you decide to do. There are many universities with scholarships for Political Science majors too! Start your search today.

Ready to find your best-fit school on CollegeXpress? Check out this list of Colleges With Excellent Political Science Programs.

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