Inside Legislator Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Elected Not That Informed...
I was surprised at how little expertise many people have when they are making significant policy decisions that effect the lives of their constituents. I had generally expected that legislators would rely on research and analytics, but generally they go with their gut, or simply go with whatever is likely to result in them gaining the most power." (Policy Analyst; 2014)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Political Science at UCLA in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2005

"I was surprised to find out that through working in politics, specifically helping assist draft legislation, how little thought is initially put into each proposal. Further, how common it was for a legislator's constituent to complain about an issue and subsequently convince the legislator to introduce a bill to change the problem only they were having. Lastly, I was surprised how much more intense "office politics is in this field compared to others." (Legislative Policy Director; 2012)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Political Science at Michigan State University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Research Analyst: "Sometimes our clients demand information in a shorter time frame than is possible, or request information that simply is not available. Sometimes we are asked for EVERYTHING about a topic and it can be stressful trying to tease out exactly what information is wanted. We don't want to simply drop a novel on their desk and hope for the best. I like to think the best part of my job is that I am improving our Democratic system by providing the knowledge needed for our legislators to make informative and applicable decisions." (2011)

Career Tips

"Make People Accept What You Offer As Right...
If you want to be effective working in a political environment, you will have to be able to work with different personalities. It's important to be able to convince people that they should do what your research tells you is the right thing." (Policy Analyst; 2014)

"Communication Skills Are Paramount...
Any background is appropriate for this type of work. Most importantly, you need to be able to communicate well. Your writing and speaking skills need to be top notch. Your ability to research not just the question asked, but the next question that will be raised, is also important. You need to find public service important. This is not the private sector. Your rewards are derived from inside, not necessarily from the outside." (Research Analyst; 2011)