Whatever your politics, it’s never a bad thing to have more women representing your political interests. That’s why we’re so chuffed to see a record number of women running for political office. Women in politics come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, so if you’ve ever wondered what kind of career prepares you to run for office, these 10 women may be a good list to study.
All of the women on our list have traded their former jobs as teachers, flight attendants and accountants for positions in political office. They are living proof that if you want to run for office some day, you don’t have to get into politics at the start of your career!
1. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) started her career as an attorney in private practice at the New York law firm Davis Polk. She took a leave of absence to clerk for a federal judge and then returned to the firm and became known for being a successful defense attorney for the firm Philip Morris. It was while she was at Davis Polk that she joined the Women’s Leadership Forum, a program run by the Democratic National Committee.
2. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) needs no introduction. She attended law school and started her career as an attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund, a non-profit organization, in Massachusetts. Clinton moved pretty quickly thereafter to work as a staffer for the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee before moving to Arkansas and taking on a faculty teaching position at the University of Arkansas.
3. U.S. Representative Mia Love (R) is blazing a trail. Not only is she the first Haitian American and the first black female Republican in Congress, she’s also the first black American to be elected to Congress from Utah. Prior to her career in politics, she worked for the Sento and Ecopass Corporations, as well as a flight attendant with Continental Airlines.
4. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) started her career as a lecturer at Rutgers School of Law after being a stay-at-home mother and putting herself through law school on nights and weekends. She then won increasingly more prestigious teaching and academic jobs through her academic career: first at the University of Houston Law Center, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and finally at Harvard University.
5. U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) started her career as a career counselor at what is now West Virginia State University after receiving a masters in education. She studied zoology at Duke University before that. Capito’s political career began when she ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1996, where she served for two terms before running for U.S. Congress.
6. U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao (R) started her career in finance. After getting her MBA from Harvard University, she was worked at Bank of America in San Francisco and Citicorp in New York for several years as Vice President for syndications and as an international banker, respectively.
7. U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D) was like some of her fellow women on this list and attended law school with the intention of becoming a lawyer. Harris started her career as a Deputy District Attorney in California, where she worked in Alameda County for almost a decade. She then became the Managing Attorney of the Career Criminal Unit in San Francisco’s DA Office before becoming Chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division, which oversees civil matters.
8. UN Secretary Nikki Haley (R) is currently the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and previously was the Governor of South Carolina. After graduating from Clemson University with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, Haley worked for FCR Corporation, a waste management and recycling company. From there, she joined her mother’s clothing company, Exotica International, as CFO before running for political office.
9. U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) — The junior senator from New Hampshire, Ayotte was elected in 2010 and holds a doctorate of law from Villanova University. Ayotte joined the Manchester law firm McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton as an associate before moving to practice law for the New Hampshire Attorney General as a prosecutor. From there, she eventually was appointed New Hampshire’s Attorney General.
10. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) represents Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives and has the distinction of being the first Cuban-American as well as Latina elected to Congress. She started her career in education, as a teacher and ultimately as the owner-operator of a private school in Miami-Dade county.
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