As a student of Politics and International Relations, I know that there are many career paths available once I have graduated. However, like most other students, I really don’t know which one to take!
Through the Employability Points scheme, I gained two weeks experience with a local youth cancer charity (YouCan Youth Cancer Support), which was a real eye-opening experience of the ins and outs of how a charity is run. The great thing about the EP scheme, is that some of the rewards are day-long workshops to give you a snapshot into the industry (See other WE blogs). As much as I enjoyed my time with YouCan, I think this Love Island favourite sums up how I felt! I was panicking that I didn’t have enough experience of different industries. I am also part of a Community Action Group on campus, and I didn’t want to channel all my energy into a career in the charity sector when there were so many different options out there (I’d put all my eggs in one basket)!In my panic about, just the rest of my life, I started to look for more work experience opportunities in different sectors. As I am quite interested in working within parliament, I decided to email every MP in Kent, to see if any of them had any availability in their highly competitive work experience slots. Fortunately enough, (and most likely due to the fab CV the CES helped me to write), I was offered a week at the constituency office of Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages.
This was such a fantastic experience as I was given a complete insight into the life of an MP, and how many people it takes to help them in their job. I was assigned the role of replying to the constituent emails Rosie was receiving, often on national legislation such as the Environment Bill, the Road Safety Act, and of course Brexit. This saw around 500 emails fly into the inbox on the morning of the ‘Final Brexit Deal’ debate! It was fascinating watching her team of caseworkers keep an eye on the debate and the cabinet resignations, as it is easy to forget that their jobs depend on the Fixed-Term Elections Act. The potential vote of no confidence in Theresa May and the threat of a general election would put their employment in jeopardy. Despite this, as a Labour constituency, they were revelling in the ongoing events, epitomised by putting the ‘Theresa May resignation champagne’ back in the fridge! I was also able to attend some of Rosie’s trips around Canterbury, including a visit to the Hepatitis C van outside the Catching Lives homeless centre. Rosie spoke to the charity, who told her that there’s only one van for the whole of England detecting this life-threatening disease. Rosie seemed to care passionately about the issue, and her relationship with one of the Catching Lives volunteers showed just how involved she is with homelessness in Canterbury. She began strategizing fundraising and how she would bring it up in the House of Commons. Watching this reminded me how much I would love to have a career that can impact people’s lives in this way. On Friday I helped greet guests that were attending Rosie’s surgery and found out more about the people she helps.
From my work experience, I can now evidence that I have admin and email skills on my CV, as well as professional office capabilities, and a passion to give up my time to volunteer for a political organisation.
Moral of the story: I wouldn’t have got this placement (one which has inspired me to pursue a career in parliament) if I hadn’t asked. It can be extremely hard to find work experience, especially as it is often so competitive. But, what have you got to lose by just asking? The worst that can happen is they say no. Best case scenario: they are impressed by your proactive approach, and you get the position. It may seem blase, but..
..if you don’t ask you don’t get.