Careers in political science and international relations | Mount Allison

Political science

Where do political scientists work?

As a political science graduate you can work in a variety of areas in public life, including political campaigns, advocacy groups, policy research, public relations firms, provincial and federal government, consulting and teaching.

A number of graduates become interns or legislative assistants. Some of our graduates go into business. The degree is also an excellent foundation for graduate work in law, business (MBA), journalism, or political science.

Recent graduates are currently pursuing post-graduate study in political science, law, and journalism at a number of Canadian universities including McGill, University of Toronto, Dalhousie, Kings College, and University of British Columbia.

Useful links

Andrew Klain ('16)

Andrew Klain graduated in 2016 with honours in political science and a minor in history. A varsity athlete and Academic All Canadian, Andrew went on to complete a masters of arts in political science at the University of Calgary and is now a senior policy analyst with Natural Resources Canada.

Read more about Andrew

Originally from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Andrew was drawn to Mount Allison’s reputation as one of the best undergraduate schools in the country. 

Recounting his time as a varsity athlete, Andrew notes “I played on the football team for four years while I was there. Being a varsity athlete is challenging and it was a great experience. I made a lot of friends, a lot of great relationships. It helped to very quickly instil some important work habits that are required at university: time management, discipline, being able to prioritize things and being efficient when it comes to schoolwork. I really got to experience all Mount A had to offer in terms of academics and athletics.”

Andrew’s favourite course was a third-year public policy course where he researched the legislative treatment of opium in Canada from 1900 to 1970. This included studying the speeches of members of government. “This experience provided me with a deeper understanding of how public policy changes over time.” 

Andrew learned a great deal from his upper year research assignment on the formation of the Labrador boundary. This assignment led to publication and taught Andrew about the quality and quantity of research expected for an academic publication and prepared him for graduate studies. 

At Natural Resources Canada, Andrew works in the Economic Analysis Division of the Canadian Forest Service. His role involves supporting the growth Canada’s forest sector through conducting economic and policy analysis on forest-based biofuels, biomaterials and biochemicals to diversify the sector while simultaneously supporting Canada’s transition to a net-zero economy. Andrew works closely with research scientists and engineers, while helping to shape federal public policy and funding programs. 

Andrew credits his time at Mount Allison for providing him with transferable skills that he can use in his current position, including research and writing skills, critical thinking and analysis skills and experience developing presentations and policy briefs. 

Andrew’s advice to students is two-fold - to be open to new ideas to challenge your assumptions and beliefs, as well as taking on internship and cooperative education opportunities to develop more practical knowledge. “You really need to be open to new opportunities, as well as never shying away from different perspectives and ideas either, because I think that’s what makes you a really well-rounded policy analyst- especially when you have to consider complex public policy issues.”


 

International relations

Careers

Internships

Volunteer opportunities

  • Volunteers for Peace — non-profit membership organization that offers placement in over 3,000 volunteer projects in more than 100 countries.
  • WorldTeach — non-profit, non-governmental organization based at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, which provides opportunities for individuals to make a meaningful contribution to international education by living and working as volunteer teachers in developing countries
  • InterAction — The American Council for Voluntary International Action
  • The Morgridge Center for Public Service — campus clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities, including both semester-long and short term activities
  • Service Civil International — dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organizing international voluntary projects for people of all ages and backgrounds

 

Brynne Langford ('16)

Brynne Langford graduated in 2016 with an honours in international relations and a minor in political science. She was a Bell Scholar and the recipient of the Frank Strain Prize in International Relations. Brynne went on to complete her masters in political science from the University of British Columbia and also a B.C. Legislative Internship Program. 

Read more about Brynne

Brynne is now working as a senior policy analyst with the British Columbia Accessibility Directorate.  As Brynne notes, “[t]he team that I am working on is the cross-government hub for accessibility initiatives in B.C. and our flagship project over the last few years was the development of the Accessible BC Act and now our team is leading the implementation of that Act.”
 
Mount Allison appealed to Brynne as she was eager for a new experience. “I did my last years of high school abroad in Wales in the U.K. and then after that I wanted a new adventure. I had always wanted to live in the Maritimes and really liked Mount Allison particularly because of the opportunity to work really closely with professors and do research and I felt it was a really unique experience. It was a wonderful four years.” Brynne’s experience working as a research and teaching assistant helped to develop her research and writing skills, and to prepare her for graduate school. She also helped start “Music Makes a Difference”, a group that provides music therapy to seniors at the local nursing home.
 
Brynne’s path to a career in public policy was influenced by her interest in politics and desire for a career that could make a positive difference in the lives of others. “I realized I enjoyed working within systems to make them better and more responsive to the needs of the people they serve.”
 
Being raised by a parent who lives with a disability was also a big influence on Brynne’s life and her growing interest in disability policy. At Mount Allison, Brynne completed numerous projects on disability policy and political representation of people with disabilities and also completed a course entitled “Philosophy of Disability”. Drawing upon her background in International Relations, Brynne completed an Independent Studies Project related to the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  
 
Brynne’s advice for a career in public policy, “the skills that you’ll build at Mount Allison can be applied to so many different issues. You have the ability to be a generalist and work on many different things over time or to really find your niche and dig in. I think it is a great field to go into if you really do want to make change.” 

Hanna Button (’10)

Hanna Button, who graduated in 2010 with an honours in international relations and minor in French, says she is incredibly grateful to be working in two areas she is passionate about:  international development and gender equality. Button is the director of policy to the Minister of International Development and Minister of Women and Gender Equality.

Read more about Hanna

When she was a student at Mount Allison, Button took many development-related courses that covered gender and a feminist analysis of international development. This included an independent study course, Gender and Development, guided by her professor Dr. Dave Thomas, where she pursued this topic in more depth.

“I had a lot of exposure to that type of perspective at Mount A and it is something I have always been interested in. I never could have predicted that I would be working for the Minister of International Development at the time Canada launched its first feminist international assistance policy,” she says.

Button also has other important experience as she previously worked at the International Development Research Centre. The centre conducts research on the problems in developing regions using scientific methods to tackle these and leverage Canada’s international development efforts.

“The work I do is very much about finding the right direction for Canada’s international assistance funding. We first conducted a review into all Canadian international assistance, and then used this as a basis for developing a new policy for Canadian development. Now we are on to the next step — working on the implementation of the policy.”

Button says her French minor has also proved invaluable. She has worked for a francophone minister and regularly corresponds in French.

“My work is very much aligned with many of the things I studied, talked about, and wrote about while I was at Mount A.”

Button was a tour guide in parliament the summer between her second and third year at Mount Allison. She loved being on the Hill and hoped to go back some day.

“I didn’t realize I could bring the working at parliament and the development together quite as it has happened.”

Button’s advice to students? Know what interests you, what excites you or what you feel strongly about. And be flexible as jobs and job opportunities are always going to take very different forms.

“To be happy with the work that you do, it is important that it is well aligned with what you consider to be a priority and what really interests you. For me that has always been the intersection between international development and issues of gender, feminism and inclusion.”