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Roles and Work Environment
Taking on leadership roles in Education can look differently depending on where you want to be involved. It can be helpful to think about the level at which you'd like to make a difference. Administrators in local school systems, such as principals and vice principals, work directly with teachers, students and parents and help with school reform. Typically, becoming a principal involves a master’s degree, like the M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision in the School of Education & Human Development here at UVA.
When thinking about reforming education on a larger scale, you may want to work in education policy. Do you want to create policy (government), conduct research to influence policy (think tanks), advocate for educators (union), or work with schools to change local approaches to education (nonprofit)? These are just some of the ways you might get involved with policy. Here are some examples of organizations that are connected to education leadership and policy:
- Think Tanks (American Institutes for Research, Brookings, The Learning Policy Institute)
- Unions (NEA, AFT)
- Advocacy (Ed Trust, Educators for Excellence, Data Quality Campaign)
- Nonprofits (CityBridge Education)
- Consulting (McKinsey, Kennedy & Co., Education First, Bain, Accenture, Deloitte)
- Legislative Government
- Executive Government
Skills and Training
Here are some skills you may consider developing if you are interested in working in education leadership and policy.
- Public speaking & verbal communication
- Strong writing: concise, clear, persuasive
- Knowledge of current education policies
- Experience working in education (teaching and/or mentorship)
- Ability to analyze & effectively problem-solve
Many professionals who work in education policy recommend spending at least some time working in a classroom before moving into policy in order to gain a better understanding of the industry.
In the areas of Politics, Policy, and Lobbying, hiring for internships and full-time opportunities normally occurs when an organization has an immediate need. Internship programs typically hire only a few months prior to their start date. Some positions may become available in late spring/early summer, so you should continue to look for opportunities throughout the academic year and beyond. Months leading up to an election or when a state's legislature will be in session are also good times of the year to look for postings. Review the Public Service and Government Community page for examples of recruiting timelines for Politics, Policy, & Lobbying.
- Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP): 10-week internship program through the School of Education & Human Development where interns conduct research focusing on schools, classrooms, and other youth settings.
- EdPolicyWorks Research Center: Look out for opportunities to get involved with EdPolicyWorks as a research assistant or Ed Policy Associate.
- Don’t forget to check out education policy classes in the School of Education and Batten.
Check out our Handshake Quick Search Link for job and internship postings related to Educational Leadership & Policy.
Applying and Interviewing
Resumes and Cover Letters
Make sure to check out the Resumes and Cover Letters section of the website for helpful advice and sample resumes and cover letters.
If you have never interviewed before, make sure to check out the interviewing section of our website. You can also conduct a mock interview with a career counselor for practice.
Additional Industry Resources
Blogs and Industry Research
- U.S. Department of Education
- Virginia Board of Education
- Politico Morning Education
- Postsecondary Education Administration - Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Education Commission of the States
- Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM)
- Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP)
- National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
- American Educational Research Association (AERA)
- American Economic Association
Erin Garratt graduated from UVA in 2011 and went on to work as a Programs & Operations Associate at the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. The EYD team spoke with Erin in the fall of 2020 about her career journey and what led her to working in Ed Policy and advocacy - read about the conversation here!
Heather Berg graduated from UVA in 2015 and went on to pursue an MBA and MPP from the University of Michigan after working in Ed Policy. The EYD team spoke with Heather in the spring of 2021 about her career journey and what led her to the advocacy and policy fields - read about the conversation here!