Will the Real Olivia Pope Please Stand Up? What a Career in Political Management Is Really About

Thanks to television, our perception of many careers can be skewed. While wildly entertaining, the lives of doctors, lawyers, police officers and political professionals have all gotten the TV treatment and the result has often been a glamorization of the profession. Scandal, one of primetime TV’s biggest hits, has largely portrayed the life of its leading character Olivia Pope, a Washington D.C. crisis manager, as more dramatic than realistic from a professional standpoint.

But though TV has significantly influenced the way we view political management careers – from press secretaries to crisis managers to Presidents – those who’ve sought education in the field have learned the realities of the industry. In fact, political management degrees offered by leading programs like GW Online incorporate real-world scenarios directly into classroom learning to fully prepare students for politics and public relations in the professional arena. Even better, many of these programs are staffed by consultants, media gurus, pollsters, speechwriters and winning candidates making the educational experience all the more authentic and effective.

Olivia Pope and her never-ending personal and professional drama may be highly entertaining (and borderline addictive) but there’s a big difference between made-for-TV political management and real-world politics. Our infographic on What a Career in Political Management is Really About carefully examines the differences.


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