For a week over the Easter break I was lucky enough to undertake a week’s work experience in the constituency office of Emma Hardy MP, Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle. Politics is notorious for its reputation as inaccessible and elitist, and so to have the opportunity to get an insight into the political world was one I jumped at.
Image: Visit Britain
How did I get the placement?
I’d been considering a career based around politics for a while and was eager to gain some actual experience of what a career in politics could look like. The opportunity for a week of work experience came up after many, many unanswered emails. I essentially looked up all MPs in the area surrounding York who aligned with my personal political beliefs (as a side note, if you’re looking for experience in politics, I would always recommend working for someone who’s views you identify with, as this will just help make you much more passionate about the work you’re doing). The email address and contact information of all MPs are very easily available, and I spent some time sending out emails and CVs to politicians in my local area that I would be interested in working with. The office in which I ended up working was the only one who responded, but it’s always worth putting feelers out – after all, if you don’t try then you’re never going to get anywhere!
What did I do?
I was very lucky in that I didn’t end up chained to the photocopier, shredder, or filing cabinet for the whole week. The people who worked in the office were eager for me to get a true taste for the work that they do, and they set me jobs to complete that actually needed doing. My work was primarily based around research, although I also helped draft letters to different government departments, wrote a blog post, sat in on meetings with constituents, and helped with other administrative tasks that needed doing.
What did I learn?
Working in the constituency office also opened up my eyes to the huge team of people that surround each MP, working tirelessly to help those they have been elected to represent. A career in politics does not just mean becoming a Member of Parliament; you could be a constituency caseworker, an advisor, an office manager, a speechwriter, or a parliamentary assistant. Each and every role behind that of an MP themselves has an impact on politics, and more broadly, the world around us.
It was also lovely to see the human face of politics. Too often MPs in Westminster seem so far removed from the real world, high on their pedestal in the House of Commons. To be able to work alongside and talk to someone who takes an active part in the running of the country was fascinating, and made a career in politics seem all the more achievable. I would highly encourage anyone who has an interest in work to do with politics or policy to contact a local MP on the chance that they are willing to take someone on for work experience. Failing that, it’s always possible to get involved with your local party, and help in canvassing, door knocking, and other campaigns. It’s not only in election season that you can be political.