What I did with my Political Science Degree
A political science degree can afford students many wonderful opportunities. Some of our recent graduates want to explain some of these exciting possibilities and how they are making their mark on the world.
What I did with My Political Science Degree
AIF Clinton Fellow:
"After graduating, I worked in India as an AIF ClintonFellow for Calcutta Kids, a maternal and child health nonprofit organization that works with a migrant population living in slums near Calcutta, West Bengal. I had a few different projects there, including assisting in health management of the primary health clinic by creating and implementing standard operating protocols, working with data to monitor and evaluate Calcutta Kids' many programs impact, and starting a diarrhea treatment center.
My time studying political science at OSU not only led me to Calcutta, but also informed my work there. Writing a thesis on the politics behind health reform in India under Professor Irfan Nooruddin and taking classes on topics as diverse as party politics (Professor Beck) or modern political theory (Professor MacGilvray) helped me understand how so many different political forces, actors, and ideologies had impacted the very real health status of mothers and children.
I am currently attending Alpert Medical School at Brown University. My experience studying political science and then working in Calcutta has given me the understanding to be a physician that not only seeks to alleviate the individual, biomedical problems that a patient brings, but also the deeper societal and systemic causes." -- Pranav Reddy
Teach for China:
"My name is Andrea Blinkhorn and I am currently a 2012-2014 Fellow for Teach for China (TFC). TFC is a non-profit that is dedicated to alleviating educational inequality in China. In China, over 70% of kids growing up in urban areas will go to college but only 1.7% of kids who grow up in rural areas will have the chance to go to college. It is this gap that TFC aims to change. The organization was started in 2009 and has taken off ever since! As a member of the 4th-ever class of Fellows I have a unique opportunity to not only make an impact on students lives in rural China, but also to help the organization grow and improve.
My advice to students is to take risks! Don't be afraid to try new things and push your boundaries. At Ohio State I learned to challenge myself, not only in the classroom but outside as well. Study abroad, do research, join student organizations - your educational experience at Ohio State is what you make of it!
My other piece of advice would be to get to know Professors! The Political Science department at Ohio State was one of the main reasons I ultimately decided to attend the school. The faculty are well known for their work in many fields, but they are also very accessible. Getting involved in research is such a great way to add to your experience and get a chance to explore possible career opportunities. I am in China because I learned to not be afraid of trying new things and step outside of my comfort zone through my classes and my involvement on campus. My classes in Poli Sci taught me to think as a global citizen and now I'm living abroad experiencing the world in a whole new way." -- Andrea Blinkhorn
2012 Pickering Fellow:
"While in undergrad at Ohio State, I was a double major in Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Arabic. Next year I will be attending Harvard University to pursue a Master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies. My political science background at Ohio State has inspired me to focus my studies on the democratic process in the Middle East and how the concept of democracy differs between the Middle East and the West. I also want to analyze how democracy will be influenced by the new role of political Islam in the region. I have been very fortunate to receive the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship, which will help prepare me for a future career with the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. Next summer I will a have a domestic internship with the State Department, hopefully working for the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau. The following summer I will have an internship at a U.S. embassy abroad, most likely in the Middle East. As a Foreign Service Officer I hope to work with public diplomacy initiatives to help create greater understanding and mutual respect between the United States and the Middle East and to encourage the development of democracy in the region.
I have three points of advice to prospective and current students in the political science department at Ohio State. First, take the time to form real and lasting relationships with your professors; they are amazing resources and will help make your time at OSU even more memorable. Second, take every opportunity to study abroad or intern. Its incredible how much your academic studies will be supplemented by real life experience. And lastly, apply to every scholarship, internship, fellowship that you can find, even if you don't think you're qualified. Don't be discouraged if you don't get everything you apply for. Just remember that everyone that you do get will open up so many more opportunities." -- Stephanie Sobek
The PhD Route:
"I'm a first year student in the political science Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan. I study American politics with a focus on political behavior. Right now, my research projects focus on participation, the effects of campaign communications, public opinion at the state and local level, and survey methodology.
The best advice that I got as an undergrad, and the best thing that I did, was to develop relationships with faculty. Some of those relationship started through classes, but in others I made a point to talk to faculty about my interests. Larry Baum, Herb Asher, Paul Beck and other faculty were extremely generous with time and advice, and having those relationships made me a much better scholar and a better person.
For anyone interested in a career in academia or just one that uses political science research, I really encourage getting involved in research. Taking on a thesis project and presenting multiple times at the Denman were great ways to learn research methods and get acquainted with the process I use now. I also learned a lot from my job as a research assistant with Craig Volden, who just left the OSU faculty.
I also think that polisci majors will benefit a lot from getting involved in the community. There are a lot of great opportunities in Columbus. I got involved with campaigns in my freshman year, and I worked all through undergrad in a variety of campaign jobs. By the end of it I was a professional campaign consultant. I could have kept up in that line of work, but the long-term benefit is that it gave me a lot of research ideas. Having a line of work in politics or government outside of school can really pay off in a number of ways." -- Chris Skovron
"I'm currently in my third year at Harvard Law School. With any luck I'll be graduating in May, after which I'll be joining the Washington D.C. office of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
My advice to current or future students: I'm not sure I have anything too insightful. At a school like Ohio State there are tremendous opportunities, if you're willing to take some initiative. I think it's important to actively seek out what really interests you, and find faculty members who are willing to nurture and develop that interest into something productive and worthwhile. For me, that faculty member was Professor Baum, to whom I owe an immense amount of gratitude." -- Rajiv Mohan