Building a Career in Politics
By Erin Rebello
If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you’ve probably heard about ongoing political battles that occur both within our nation and around the world. With everything from education, to civil services, to COVID-19 relief, there is a political official making decisions for the greater population. With the world being so intertwined with politics during these uncertain times, there has been an increase in students interested in politics. You yourself may have also considered what it’s like to be Justin Trudeau or Doug Ford! But before you start planning your first campaign, there are a few things you should keep in mind when considering a career in politics.
A good place to start for any aspiring politician is the newspaper (and no, I don’t mean the comics section!). Politicians require a solid understanding of the needs of the community they intend to serve, and should thus be well educated on the issues which their people face. Newspapers also have a lot of information regarding the political climate and the economy, and can be a great source of data. Besides a physical newspaper, you can also turn to news websites, YouTube news channels, and even television news. Regardless of how you prefer to digest your media, you should make sure that the news you’re getting is as unbiased as possible. If a piece of media favours one side too much, it might give you incorrect or faulty information, so you should ideally look for multiple perspectives from different sources.
If you want to take things a step further and really educate yourself on pressing issues, speak with your guidance counsellor and see if it’s possible to take relevant courses in your school. These courses are typically under a department called “Canadian and World Studies” and some specific courses you might want to take are:
- Canadian and International Law
- Canadian and World Politics
- Global Issues
- Current Economic Issues
- Creating Sustainability
- Aboriginal Issues in Canada
Taking relevant courses in high school will help set a good foundation for a career in politics, giving you information about laws, political systems, and current issues. They’ll also give you a sense of whether or not you’d be interested in pursuing this field further. If you’re not a fan of analyzing laws or preparing debates, you might be better suited for another field. Additionally, some of these courses may also be mandatory for certain university programs, so be sure to check the requirements of any programs you’re considering.
Finally, the best way to prepare for a career in politics is to dive right in and get involved! You may be wondering how you could possibly get involved in high school, but there are actually plenty of opportunities if you know where to search! Below is a list of a few things you can do to get involved:
- Volunteer with a local political party. Most parties are always looking for volunteers, and even accept high school students to help with local events or distributing flyers in neighbourhoods.
- If you’re over 16, register with Elections Canada to work at an election booth. The pay is really great, and you’ll learn a lot about how voting works.
- Run for a position in student government. Even if you don’t win, you’ll learn about campaigning and the election process.
- Get involved with local youth political groups. In Toronto, there is a youth group known as the “Toronto Youth Council” which meets once a month at City Hall. There are focus groups on specific areas, too, such as urban health, city budgets, transportation, etc. Many other cities have their own versions of this, so do a bit of research and ask your teachers and guidance counsellors.
- Get involved with school politics at the board level. Most schools have their own version of a student senate, where students from all boards in the district come together to discuss important issues. If you enjoy participating in the student senate, you should also consider running for student trustee! It’s a huge responsibility, but allows you to create real change within your school board while still being in high school.
These are just a few of the ways you can get involved. But there’s definitely more than this, so do your own research as well!