I began my college experience at Missouri State University in August 2008. I knew I wanted to be a political science major from the beginning so it didn’t take much coaxing to be excited about the classes and curriculum offered. By my junior year I had already signed up for an internship with Congressman Billy Long’s district office in Springfield. I gained a lot of experience there about political processes, current events, daily office operations, and how members of Congress stay in touch with their constituencies. Having an internship—especially in the political field—helped buttress many of the things I was learning about in class, in addition to my classroom knowledge buttressing my performance as an intern.
In May 2012 I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Prior to graduation I had considered several options for what I would do post-graduation, including law school, a different graduate program, or going directly into the workforce. I had a particular interest in law and policy, but I didn’t really want to be a lawyer. I also wanted to complete a graduate degree, so I decided against going directly into the workforce. Instead, I explored graduate programs in the field of public policy, specifically. I was accepted into a Master of Public Policy program at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. It was a two-year program, however, I completed one year of the program when I received a call from someone at Congressman Billy Long’s office who asked if I was interested in coming to work for the Congressman. I accepted, and I am now working for Congressman Billy Long in Springfield, Missouri and finishing my Master of Public Administration (with an emphasis in public policy) at Missouri State. My position as a Case Worker for Congressman Long entails working directly with constituents in the Seventh District. In a nutshell, I assist constituents with any problems or concerns they may be having with a federal agency. My specific issue areas are military and veterans (VA and DOD), Medicare, and some smaller agencies. I have to define the problem of the constituent, advocate on their behalf to the federal agency, and work with the constituent and the agency to resolve the problem favorably. The other part of my job involves relaying these concerns to Congressman Long so that positive legislative changes can fix some of these problems.
I have several points of advice for political science students. First, get an internship, and try to get one with an entity you could see yourself working for in the future. Many internships could lead to a job, so find a good one and work hard. Second, learn and master what a political science degree will teach you. A political science degree from MSU is going to teach you how to read, write, and think (shout out to Dr. Connor). Do not underestimate these skills. Everything you do in this world will require these three skills, so perfect them while you’re here. Learn to read complex materials and organize your thoughts. Learn to write with skill for all audiences, and learn to think critically and analyze complex problems. Third, network. An internship, volunteering, or work experience can help you make connections. Connections could be what land you your next job, so never miss an opportunity to network. Lastly, maximize your time. Make time for things that will help you gain experience, improve your skills, and set you apart from the crowd. If you have the same degree as other individuals applying for the same job, what sets you apart from the other candidates? You decide how to answer this question, and a political science degree from Missouri State will help set you apart…if you take advantage of it.
For more information about Congressman Long’s office, go to his webpage at http://long.house.gov/#dialog