Policy is one of those areas that PhDs and research staff often mention to me that they’re interested in moving into. They have found out that it combines a good level of research knowledge and experience, with the possible opportunity to effect change for a certain group.
But gaining experience in this area, prior to getting a job in it, is important. Here are some ideas you could look into, while you’ve got the luxury of being within a huge organisation such as King’s.
1) Join King’s Think Tank Society, attend its events or contribute to its publications. This will get you meeting other like-minded people and an outlet for your thoughts.
2) Become a staff or student rep. Getting used to committees, governance, advocacy and how these tools work is really important for understanding how policies are created and applied across organisations. Outside of King’s, think about becoming a charity trustee or even a school governor.
3) Follow the work of the KCL Policy Institute which acts as King’s policy consultancy. You’d find out more about how these consultancy organisations work and how their outputs differ from academic research.
4) Attend some events* where people who work in policy talk about their jobs. Not only will this increase your knowledge of the range of roles involved but it gives you an opportunity to meet other researchers interested in the sector and to practise talking to an employer. The sorts of organisations that come include the UN and EU. *KCL log-in required; look for ‘Public Policy series’ in the events listing.
5) Attend Policy Idol 2016! It’s too late to take part but take note of it for next year!
7) Consider signing up for the KCL Research Consultancy where you may find that projects in measurement, evaluation and building sector awareness help you demonstrate that you’ve got the skills it takes to become a policy wonk.