I did a two-week placement/ internship with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) government institution. DWP is a government department, which deals with issues of employability, access into work and pensions. They run numerous programmes and schemes to help people who find themselves reliant on the state and welfare system and provide them with benefits, they help graduates and unemployed individuals find work in their respective fields and areas of interests as well as working with a number of families and young people who live in troubled neighbourhoods and who are involved in gangs find jobs and support them through the process.
DWP is said to be the largest public service department in the UK with over 300,000 staff members and spend in excess of 9 billion pounds per year. What I had not realized was the range of work that DWP actually gets involved in and how it touches our lives in multiple areas. For example, the DWP runs all of the job centres up and down the country and there are about 700 currently supporting local people that need to get back into work.
Therefore, my aim for this internship is to be able to be able to get a better and practical insight into the works of this government department and assess how the new changes are likely to affect our individual lives and society as a whole.
The University of Kent Work Experience Bursary was used to reimburse my expenses for getting coaches from Canterbury to London and to my internship placement based in St James Park, Caxton House. Often I found myself crashing at friends’ houses because I couldn’t always afford to come back to my Canterbury accommodation as I didn’t have access to my home in London. This bursary helped me to take advantage of this opportunity, and helped in financially supporting this internship in buying food and lunch, as well as work clothes because I hadn’t worked in a professional setting like this before.
During my internship I learnt and even gained a new set of transferable skills. For instance communication skills; I was able to sit in on meetings and contribute ideas in a team. Although I was just an intern, I used my position to voice my opinions on key issues such as Universal Credit and make a valuable contribution to the team form the perspective of a young person. Also, knowing how to empathise to gain individuals’ trust when speaking to them on matters that had affected their lives and on situations that they had experienced when I work with sensitive issues like youth and gang culture and troubled families.
I was also able to use my skills, which I had learnt through my degree, when it came to understanding the processes of putting through a new piece of legislation. Overall I gained a variety of positives attributes including independence, as I was the only intern, passion and persistence for particular tasks that I didn’t always enjoy, a better work ethic, problem solving skills and self-confidence. These skills have really helped me as I feel I am a stronger candidate for this experience and a clearer understanding of the area within politics which I would like to go into.
– Yvonne Jokogbola is a 3rd year Politics student at the University of Kent