College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Careers in Political Science: Non-Profits & Interest Groups

Many groups attempt to influence and/or study government programs and policies. Most of these groups are non profit enterprises. They include: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), nonprofits that focus on a particular policy area. In addition to engaging in policy research, advocacy and lobbying, they also raise funds and provide assistance to affected groups. Examples of such groups are the National Organization of Women (NOW) or the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP); Trade Associations are also non-profits, but they usually bring together private businesses to influence public policies that might affect their interests. The American Farm Bureau Federation is an example of such a group. Labor Unions like trade associations attempt to advance the interests of their members and promote policies that will benefit their membership. The AFL-CIO is the nation’s largest labor federation. Political Action Committees attempt to influence policy debates as well as engage in voting drives, such as the Republican Party’s GOPAC.  Students interested in careers in this area should explore the possibility of doing an internship with a potential employer. Possible positions in this area include: field officer for the AFL-CIO; research analyst for Telecommunications Industry Association;  program manager for the American Public Transit Association; grassroots manager for the National Rifle Association.