Mentoring Students Interested in Public Policy

What should a faculty member do when advising a student interested in a policy career?

First, help your student understands there is a wide scope of possible careers fall into the ‘policy’ spectrum. The Policy Career Guide is a good place to start for descriptive accounts of the many kinds of policy careers one can pursue.

Second, a mentor ensure your student has a realistic understanding of the policy-making process. Too many students have romantic notions that policy involves meticulously preparing research on proposals for presentation to policy makers for careful evaluation and consideration. These students believe that being “right” about advocating particular policies means something in the political arena, and will likely become quickly disillusioned.

Encourage your students to become very familiar with public choice theory. Students serious about policy careers must understand the incentives in the political arena and have a solid understanding of social change theory. Understanding both public choice and social change theories will help students understand why a policy career encompasses many more skills sets than just academic research.

Further Reading

Below are a few articles that offer good introductions to public choice theory. For more recommendations, consult our economics reading list.

Internships and Jobs

Opportunities for students interested in public policy:

  • Learn Liberty Opportunities, an IHS site focusing on Liberty-advancing jobs provides a more comprehensive and updated list of internship opportunities at many policy organizations.