My internship and broader experience within the Social Science Scholars program helped me gain a clearer focus on my plans post-graduation. I have decided to use my fourth and final year as an undergraduate at Florida State to fulfill requirements for dual degrees in Political Science and Spanish. I already intended to pursue a graduate degree, but some of my conversations with executive staff during my internship led me to reconsider my program of study, and to shift away from political science and toward data science. My ultimate goal is to work in either state or federal government, or as a researcher at a think tank, and to be able to use both my political science background and my data science skills to craft robust, empirically-derived public policy.
This work has important implications. Organized labor has declined dramatically over the past several decades, due in part to economic globalization, but also by the policy decisions made by the federal and state governments. Of all the factors that are correlated with political knowledge, such as: age, education, gender, race, income, and interest in politics, union membership is the only one that can feasibly be influenced by politicians. Policies that weaken labor unions may end up depriving people, particularly those with less formal education, not only of a source of political mobilization, but also an important source of political information.
Those seeking information will respond to information provided by newspapers as one of the only (if not the only) source of guidance on ballot measures. This is especially important in mid-term elections where casual voters often stay home. Our next election—2018—is slated to have a number of constitutional amendments on the ballot, including a measure to allow some former felons to vote in our elections.