Policy leaders make massive impacts on those that they represent. In education, the impact is massive. It changes how future generations think, how they progress, and even the jobs that they go for. Without a balanced and accessible educational sector, we will never get the best out of students, and therefore we have failed them.
Teachers can do a lot. They provide not just the materials children, teenagers, and even adults need to learn, but they also create an environment conducive to learning. Of course, a great teacher is more important than what is being taught, but without the right resources, most teachers cannot give each child what they need to thrive on their own terms.
New tools, new policies, new ways of thinking – all of these are needed to improve education as a whole, but these things do not come from nowhere, and the individuals that make policies usually have extensive training.
Policy and thought leaders are the ones that see where their industry is lacking and then work to solve it. In many cases, the first step is simply bringing the issue to light, from how our education sector fails neurodivergent students to how the curriculum needs to be improved and updated for today’s world.
There is no shortage of what you need to advocate and work towards when you focus your efforts away from the ground and towards policy, but there are many steps to take before reaching this level of influence. With this guide, however, you will start in the right direction:
Through Academic Achievement
One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to become a policy leader is to invest in your education. It is not always necessary but do remember that most of the policy change that we see today is based on research and the prevalent academic theory. By becoming an academic yourself, you will, at the very least, understand the research process necessary to develop ideas that are solid and actionable.
In our education example, a great place to start is with an online Masters degree UK. These 100% online degrees allow you to focus on specific areas of education and bridge practical with theoretical and organizational information. Graduates often work at NGOs, in government agencies, and even as policymakers.
If you want to pursue the academic career track to bring about policy change by adding to the critical thought of the day, it could be a good idea to then work towards a Ph.D. A doctorate will allow you to develop a theory in a field within education. You will get published, become a Dr., and of course, will have a massive academic network behind you which you can use to lead credence to your policy initiatives.
By Publishing Content
You do not need to earn a doctorate to become published. Instead, use what you learn to write your dissertation or thesis and aim to get your work published. This can be in academic journals to articles on major news sites.
It will be hard at first, but you will find more opportunities available as you continue to get published. Finally, you can get your name out there, put your ideas out front and center, and of course, get paid for your efforts.
Publishing content does not just mean written content, either. You can host talks, or you can create online workshops just as easily. Taking on a multi-media approach to educating others is a great way to reach a larger audience and to help your listeners and readers learn in the ways that suit them best.
By Working Your Way Up, The Career Ladder
The final big option available to you is to work up the career ladder, or, more specifically, hopping from one ladder to another until you reach the position you want. After all, it can be hard to work your way up from the bottom in one single organization, especially if that organization is large.
A better and faster way to make progress is to change jobs. Look for the promotion you are hoping for a smaller organization where you can truly make your role, use that experience to move up, and even get hired into very prestigious roles.
Just as being well-known amongst academics can give you the clout you need to influence policy change, so too can being a high-ranking employee. You can even work towards a role in policymaking directly and be part of the team that decides on things like the curriculum.
The final option when it comes to using your career is, of course, to start your own business. This can be a consultancy, or it can be an NGO, or anything in-between. Fields affected by policy like education have a lot of holes that need to be filled, giving you ample opportunity to make a name for yourself while making a big difference to students.
What to Remember
There is no right or wrong way to become an influential leader in any field. You can do it by becoming an influencer. You can do it by working your way up the career ladder. You can do it by starting your own consultancy or NGO. You can become a writer. You can become a speaker. You can become a politician.
Policy leaders are influencers with very clear goals. They bring light to previously left shadowed issues, and they work to advocate for solutions that they believe in. Their work is instrumental, yes, but there is no set pathway. So, if the opportunities offered to you do not look like the ones outlined in this guide, do not worry. Thanks to the internet, you can advocate for change at any level.
The only thing you need to do is to stay committed to your goals. Influencing change is not easy and takes time and dedication. But, if you have that, it does not matter where your path takes you; you can become a policy leader.