I recently had Safwaan and Cerys join my team for work experience; this is what they had to say. If you are interested in work experience, get in touch with Maggie in my Towcester office.
“Whilst getting work experience placements may seem daunting to begin with, the process we followed to secure one within Parliament was simpler than you might think.
“When considering where we wanted to spend our work experience week, we knew we wanted something that would give a unique and personal view of the world of work; working with our local MP seemed like the best idea as it would give us a different and interesting outlook that wouldn’t be gained elsewhere. However, before arriving, we had no idea on what to expect in terms of what we would be doing, or how the internal aspect of Parliament worked. In coming, we gained so many qualities and values, such as independence, individuality within a mass of people, and learning to share our voices with our own opinions.
“Once the first day began and everyone had introduced themselves, the unsettling nervousness we both had seemed to dissipate. It was a warm welcome with little awkwardness, allowing us to open up and feel as though we could comment on anything without feeling intrusive.
“The work we did was excellently explained beforehand, making the tasks much more approachable. They required a certain degree of efficiency, due to time restrictions, truly demonstrating the reality of a workplace environment.
“We were lucky enough to experience two different meetings, one on the topic of precision medication for Cystic Fibrosis and the other on Dementia and surrounding social care issues. These are both prominent issues that Andrea is currently campaigning for, which made it even more relevant that we were involved. Joining the meetings allowed us to grasp an honest understanding of the nature of politics and the democracy involved, something that we are both extremely grateful for.”
“On the second day, Andrea and her team were preparing for a speech that was to be read out in Westminster Hall, as part of a debate regarding HS2. We went through multiple drafts of the speech before reaching one that everyone agreed with, and we were able to be a part of the complicated refining process that went on behind the scenes. This was one of the highlights of the week, as it gave a true insight into the way Andrea and her team collaborate when working. Another reason that this was so beneficial to us was that we were able to experience the nature of the task – having the job to do and working over a long period of time before coming together at the end with a fully completed work. This is an idea that can be applied in many different workplaces and environments, something that will be helpful to us both.
“After we had finished the editing process, we took part in a very informative Q&A with Andrea. We asked questions on current affairs like the knife crime epidemic and Brexit, as well as controversial figures, and the representation of women in politics. We also enquired in a more general sense as to how Andrea herself got into her role and gained an understanding of how we might go about entering such a position in the future. The answers received were very informative and interesting, giving us a deeper understanding of the world of UK politics.
“Following on from earlier in the day, we had the opportunity to go into Westminster Hall, to watch Andrea read out her speech in front of the other MP’s, who were on varying sides of the argument. This was so important to see, as we really got an in-depth idea of how views, especially those of the Speaker, could be swayed. From this, we were able to gage the importance of different language skills used to convey a meaningful argument.
“Time was also allocated for us to spend the last two days of our week working within the constituency office, in Towcester. This was a big contrast to how we had been working in London, which was really helpful, as it gave us more of a clue into how the different areas of her team work on different roles. On our first day in Towcester, we shadowed one of Andrea’s assistants, Maggie, and was shown how she deals with constituents and their problems. This truly demonstrated how vital it is to have a good team when you are a MP, as it would simply be impossible to tackle all these tasks singlehandedly. We also paid a visit to South Northants Council, and spoke to Ian McCord, who is the leader of the Council. The talk was informative and introduced us to the idea of a hierarchy system within politics – a common ideology that became increasingly apparent to us as the week progressed. The last day of the week consisted of a variety of things, including sorting local papers, and completing general office admin. We also saw Andrea during the afternoon, which helped us to understand her work within the constituency.
“Coming on work experience with Andrea has been both a privilege and a huge learning opportunity, in the way we conduct ourselves, and in the way politics is viewed and decision making in the country as a whole. The nature of Parliament in general being quite fast-paced was hugely encouraging, as we completed a great number of tasks, all varying in difficulty. It gave us the chance to face our fears of meeting many new people, whilst experiencing the feeling of independence, even though we were closely shadowed throughout the whole week. The insight it has given into the way Parliament operates and how politics is conducted is something which couldn’t have been gained through any other means, and the week spent working with Andrea and her team is one that will certainly be of use in everyday life, and in our future careers.”
~ Cerys Upstone and Safwaan Chowdhury