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Joe Szynkowski: How – and why – to get a job in politics
Column | WorkHappy

Joe Szynkowski: How – and why – to get a job in politics

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I know, I know. After the week we’ve had as a country, who in their right mind would want to get into the political field? With the gap widening between the right and left with no real bridge in sight, why spend a career fighting against what seems to be the impossible challenge of uniting America?

That’s exactly why new blood is needed in politics. 

In the long run, infighting will never beat collaboration. Meeting in the middle will always win over digging in our heels. And leading by example will always influence others.

So, if you’ve got the fight in you, working in politics may be just the thing to bring you career happiness in 2021.

Consider your options

When considering a role in politics, your mind may go straight to becoming an elected official, either on the national or local level. This type of position requires special leadership abilities and the power to connect with your constituents. 

It’s also one of the most challenging jobs in the workforce, as many elected officials will tell you about grueling hours and the overwhelming feeling of responsibility to be a people-pleaser while trying to make a difference. 

The pay can help make up for it. Zip Recruiter reports that the average annual pay for an elected official is $61,706. The recruitment company reports annual salaries as high as $114,500 and as low as $15,500. This can obviously differ across the country and even the state of Illinois.

Don’t feel like you’re ready to run for office? There are still many ways to get involved. Other critical roles in the field of politics include chiefs of staff, legislative assistants, press secretaries, lobbyists and political consultants — all of which require wildly different skillsets, allowing for diverse, versatile professionals to make their mark. 

Get educated

Most occupations in politics require at least a bachelor’s degree. Students interested in these careers can study a variety of subjects. Here are the top 10 degrees to pursue for a career in politics, from the college ranking organization College Consensus:

• Public administration

• International relations

• Political science

• Economics

• Business administration

• Public policy

• Public health

• Communications

• International business

• Criminal justice 

If you’re not considering pursuing any further degrees, you may have plenty of experience or expertise in other fields that you can leverage.

There are many transferable skills learned in business that can also be applied to the field of politics. Some of the most successful politicians come from business backgrounds. They understand the economy and what it takes to build solid, sustainable relationships.

Entering politics at this time in our country’s history is not for the faint of heart. Albert Einstein famously said, “Politics is more difficult than physics,” and he was a pretty smart dude.

But maybe it doesn’t necessarily take being the smartest person in the room to influence change. Maybe it’s about putting the right people around you, telling the truth and having a true passion for people.

If that’s you, then our country needs your voice.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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