Opinions regarding the new make-up of the federal government may vary widely, but most Canadians can agree on one thing: a majority government breeds stability and all the benefits that come with it. Arguably, many people voted for the Conservative party on May 2 in the hope that they would finally win a majority and thus spare the country another trip to the polls for four years. Even if you disagree with Stephen Harper’s politics—perhaps because you disagree with them—there’s a great deal of opportunity to be had in the new formulation of Canada’s government.
From the start of the “minority government era” in 2004, political parties and their associated executive organs have debated how to attract young, energetic talent into the political and governmental structure. It’s understandable that many new graduates have avoided diving into the government game; the ever-tenuous state of successive minority governments created a permanent state of instability. When an election can be called at any moment, it’s hard to draw in potential employees, particularly those who are just starting their careers and looking for the benefits and job security needed to lay sound foundations for their futures.
Of course, the dynamic has definitively shifted now, as each of the major political parties breathes a collective sigh of relief. There will be no election until at least 2015—and with that kind of stability comes a massive new job market, with open positions abounding (not to mention exceptional competition for what’s suddenly the hottest new employment field in Canada). It’s common knowledge that working for the government and/or political work can be a goldmine, in more ways than one: it usually pays quite well, it’s a respectable and desirable field, and it looks great on a résumé. The civil service is one of the few domains where a career can take root and be an asset to future endeavours both in and out of the field itself. It’s a fantastic stepping stone to higher echelons in the work world.
What’s particularly interesting about getting involved with the government now is that politics is rapidly transforming from what it once was. These days political parties aren’t just chattering groups in public policy debates or vehicles for how to build a nation—they’re moneymakers, with an abundance of jobs and opportunities for people from all kinds of disciplines to do meaningful, practical work. As the parties adapt and evolve, they’re necessarily starting to exploit various media and technologies to do their work and engage the general public. The uses of Twitter and Facebook in the recent American and Canadian elections—not to mention the ongoing democracy movements of the Middle East—are perfect examples of the novel intermingling of politics and the interests of a young, modern generation.
Gone are the days when the work of Ottawa was conducted on dusty ledgers and old desks. These days parties make use of a staggering array of tools (and the professionals who wield them): graphic and web design, advertising and marketing strategy, technology and information science, fashion, styling, image consulting. What used to be the realm of bookish professorial types with political science degrees has become a hotbed of innovation and creative work, a non-stop machine that sees every group trying to get an extra edge on every other. In all of this, we are finally seeing a chance for the young, intelligent “millenial” generation to get involved and have a real impact, even if their skills and background are not typically considered applicable to government work.
The active recruiting of this demographic by political parties has been growing steadily, and the onset of a stable majority government will likely push it into overdrive. For new graduates from every discipline, this is the time to start investigating and getting involved, seeing not only what political and government work can do for you, but how you can employ your skills to make an impact on your country. Pamphlets and political materials, photo ops and meetings, the never-ending mill of ideas and strategy all need to be continually tended to. The breadth of work to be had is staggering. There’s never been a better time to look into working for a political party you support or a government branch that needs a young, contemporary perspective.
The room for growth and career potential has never been higher or more diverse in the Canadian political sphere. This is our time to contribute to the kind of Canada we want, the kind of democracy we want for ourselves, using the education and expertise we have gained. The constant lament that young people don’t care about politics stems from a lack of visibility: we mostly see policy created by and for older generations. Working in politics is a way to start reshaping the direction of the government—indeed of the entire country—to better reflect the younger generation that is asserting an ever-stronger presence on the national stage. So get involved. After all, today’s new hires are tomorrow’s great leaders. Jump on the bandwagon and give Canada everything you’ve got.
NDP Career Opportunities: http://www.ndp.ca/jobs
Green Party Career Opportunities: https://greenparty.ca/party/jobs
Young Greens of Canada: http://youth.greenparty.ca/
Conservative Party Career Opportunities: http://www.conservative.ca/party/employment_opportunities/
Young Liberals of Canada: http://www.ylc-jlc.ca/home_e.aspx
Canadian Political Science Association, Information on Working for Parliament and the Federal Government of Canada: http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/