Careers in political science and international relations | Mount Allison

Political science

Where do political scientists work?

As a political science graduate you can work in a variety of areas in public life, including political campaigns, advocacy groups, policy research, public relations firms, provincial and federal government, consulting and teaching.

A number of graduates become interns or legislative assistants. Some of our graduates go into business. The degree is also an excellent foundation for graduate work in law, business (MBA), journalism, or political science.

Recent graduates are currently pursuing post-graduate study in political science, law, and journalism at a number of Canadian universities including McGill, University of Toronto, Dalhousie, Kings College, and University of British Columbia.

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Meghan Carter ('12)

After completing a political science degree at Mount Allison and a master’s in political science, Meghan Carter asked herself "What should I do next?" She realized two things.

"I want to do something that would have a real-world impact."

Read more about Meghan

Carter also had an interest in public service, as she had been exposed to many of its aspects through her classes that covered policy and policy-cycles. This led her directly to a career in public service, a profession where her desire for a real-world impact dovetailed nicely with her personal interests.

Carter now works for the government of Alberta as a senior policy planner, with their Income Support and the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) programs.

“This is something I am passionate about and where I can help people. It is close to my heart.”

Her job, which is similar to a policy analyst, is quite varied from day-to-day: it involves writing, preparing briefings, and responding to inquiries.

“We provide advice when policy questions come up and keep track of trends in income assistant programs around the country and respond to those.”

In her political science degree at Mount Allison, Carter focussed on Canadian government and politics, which provided a good foundation for understanding policy-cycles and legislation. It also helped her understand the relationship between ministers and public servants, and what to expect when she first started working in the public service.

“On top of this practical knowledge, I think a lot of political science focusses on developing critical-thinking skills and problem-solving skills, which are vitally important to policy-work, where you are presented with an issue or a problem, you need to understand how it will impact all involved, and you have to come up with a solution that meets everyone’s needs.”

Carter also explains that the position-papers she wrote in her undergraduate courses are quite similar to many documents she now prepares to explain particular issues and different options for addressing them.

“I think people struggle with the question of what political science is. I feel I apply it and use it every day. What I do has a real-world impact on people. It is about sound policy and doing what is best for people. It has been a rewarding career so far and I look forward to seeing where it goes.”


International relations

Careers

Internships

Volunteer opportunities

  • Volunteers for Peace — non-profit membership organization that offers placement in over 3,000 volunteer projects in more than 100 countries.
  • WorldTeach — non-profit, non-governmental organization based at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, which provides opportunities for individuals to make a meaningful contribution to international education by living and working as volunteer teachers in developing countries
  • InterAction — The American Council for Voluntary International Action
  • The Morgridge Center for Public Service — campus clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities, including both semester-long and short term activities
  • Service Civil International — dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organizing international voluntary projects for people of all ages and backgrounds

Hanna Button (’10)

Hanna Button, who graduated in 2010 with an honours in international relations and minor in French, says she is incredibly grateful to be working in two areas she is passionate about:  international development and gender equality. Button is the director of policy to the Minister of International Development and Minister of Women and Gender Equality.

Read more about Hanna

When she was a student at Mount Allison, Button took many development-related courses that covered gender and a feminist analysis of international development. This included an independent study course, Gender and Development, guided by her professor Dr. Dave Thomas, where she pursued this topic in more depth.

“I had a lot of exposure to that type of perspective at Mount A and it is something I have always been interested in. I never could have predicted that I would be working for the Minister of International Development at the time Canada launched its first feminist international assistance policy,” she says.

Button also has other important experience as she previously worked at the International Development Research Centre. The centre conducts research on the problems in developing regions using scientific methods to tackle these and leverage Canada’s international development efforts.

“The work I do is very much about finding the right direction for Canada’s international assistance funding. We first conducted a review into all Canadian international assistance, and then used this as a basis for developing a new policy for Canadian development. Now we are on to the next step — working on the implementation of the policy.”

Button says her French minor has also proved invaluable. She has worked for a francophone minister and regularly corresponds in French.

“My work is very much aligned with many of the things I studied, talked about, and wrote about while I was at Mount A.”

Button was a tour guide in parliament the summer between her second and third year at Mount Allison. She loved being on the Hill and hoped to go back some day.

“I didn’t realize I could bring the working at parliament and the development together quite as it has happened.”

Button’s advice to students? Know what interests you, what excites you or what you feel strongly about. And be flexible as jobs and job opportunities are always going to take very different forms.

“To be happy with the work that you do, it is important that it is well aligned with what you consider to be a priority and what really interests you. For me that has always been the intersection between international development and issues of gender, feminism and inclusion.”