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4 potential career paths in the Public Sector

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

If you've set your sights on running or helping to run the country, here's a quick look at the four public sector career paths you could take. 

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Public sector career paths

If you have a passion for implementing change and love challenges, a career in government and public affairs will be very rewarding. From the start, you'll get to work with interesting and like-minded people where fresh ideas can make a real difference to society.

The range of work across this sector is diverse and working conditions reflect this. It's possible to work a typical 9am-5pm day in a desk-based role, however, you might also find yourself working outdoors, doing irregular, unsociable hours or making frequent journeys across the UK and beyond.  

Without a doubt, you will also need to demonstrate certain skills to work in the public sector. Confidence, drive and the ability to work a room will all hold you in good stead. Much of the work in this industry will involve networking and being able to influence stakeholders and other organisations. You'll be able to (or you'll be willing to learn) how to hold your own when it comes to articulating new ideas and be keen to stay abreast of political and governmental news. 

1. Make a difference locally

If you want to make a difference to the lives of people in your local area, then local government or regional councils are the perfect places for you. 

In a nutshell, by working in local government you'll be responsible for a range of diverse issues such as housing, planning, leisure services and refuse collection.

If you want to make a difference to the lives of people in your local area, then local government or regional councils is the perfect place for you.

Local government works closely with central government departments on major issues including education and social services. A popular choice of career in this area is a Government Officer. This type of role is likely to involve contact with members of the public, councillors, administrators and specialists in other departments or other local councils/authorities.

2. Impact on a national scale

If you'd like to help devise and action government policies, then central government (i.e. the Civil Service) will be the route for you. The Civil Service offers strong career development - The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated development programme for graduates preparing them for careers at the highest levels of the Civil Service. It allows you to gain a wide range of experience in a very short time.

In a nutshell, employment in the Civil Service offers a range of opportunities from advisory and administrative positions to jobs that involve working directly with the public. Alternatively, you could work for a public or national body. These perform administrative, executive or regulatory functions related to or on behalf of the Government. 

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3. Communications: Influence thinking

If you're interested in influencing government policy through media communications and strategic advice, then the public affairs area would be for you. 

In a nutshell, working in Public Affairs is often just viewed as being a lobbyist but the work is actually more wide-ranging and includes media relations, campaign management and policy advice.

Public affairs consultants can work either 'in house' for a company, as an advisor for a political consultancy working with a number of clients, for a trade association or union, a political or issues-based organisation or for a government agency.

4. A role with global significance

While all of the above and many other roles can influence the world in which we live on a global scale, if you're determined to embark on a career within this sector that is truly global, you'll need to look to institutions and bodies whose mission it is to work on an international level (i.e. the EU, the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and NATO to name but a few).

You'll need to gain vast amounts of experience to reach the top of global institutions such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and NATO 

You'll need to gain vast amounts of experience to reach the top of global institutions such as those listed above. A number of people begin their career in this area having spent years in the private and corporate sector, gaining particular expertise in areas of operations, law, finance and communications. A willingness to travel and live abroad is a must for this area and a second, third or even fourth language is a major plus.

In a nutshell, to succeed at the global level you'll need to invest a lot of time in developing the right skills and abilities to compete for these coveted positions. 

Discover public sector graduate jobs

Interested in working in the public sector? Browse graduate jobs and take the next step towards securing a role in the public sector.