1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
For my work experience I worked in Whitehall for my Member of Parliament.I shadowed my MP, took on tasks relating to research, watched debates and completed some correspondence. I worked in a small office of four, two of which job shared. I did not get many responsibilities due to the time I was there and the nature of the work. However I was given plenty of challenging work to do; they did not get me doing their mediocre jobs, rather they challenged me and taught me a lot. My days varied dramatically with various tasks being prominent on each day. The staff were very friendly and went for lunch with me and showed me parts of Parliament that were staff only.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I developed my researching skills and it gave me a fantastic foundation for my University module on Political Inquiry. There were no qualifications due to the nature of the work however, the experience was very valuable. It helped very much with applying for future work experience. I have obtained a weeks work experience with a political research company as a result of this experience.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The work was very enjoyable and was challenging enough that I was pushed to be professional and organise my time well. The team were a delight to work with; they were possibly the friendliest group of people which I am still in touch with nearly a year later. The Company culture is, as expected from Parliament, very traditional. However,the people there keep it lively and it was a delight to work alongside them.
4. How valued do you feel by Parliament?
I felt valued by my Member of Parliament who gave praise to the level of work I was completing. He made sure I was attending as many meetings as possible without it being boring or without extra security passes. The recognition and help from the rest of the team was also fantastic. It was continuously involved with what they were doing as well as given my own tasks and was valued as part of the team.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
There was no need for an induction or any training as such so that was not an issue for this work experience. On the first day I was stuck at security for a while but that was partially because I was early to the office. There was not really much hierarchy in the office, there was a structure but everyone worked together as a team. There was still very strong direction and I knew exactly what I needed to do at all times. It was well organised for work experience of this type.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
There was not much need for support or advice during the course of the week however, any queries I had was met with a positive attitude. I really enjoyed this work experience.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The office staff, the team and the person I mainly shadowed were all fantastic. There was not much need for support but I feel that had I needed anything, they would have helped without a fuss.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
There was no wages or expenses paid for this work experience as it was something I managed to get my MP to do, rather than an organised programme. That meant I had to cover train costs by myself. However, there is plans for future work experience people to have expenses paid, so they are moving towards making the work experience more accessible. The location was of course Westminster which meant it was on the expensive side to get to.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
As this work experience was only a week there was not much available for me to take part in. However, I socialised with the people I met in lunch breaks and if I had been there for longer there are some fantastic opportunities to meet new people. For example, there is a choir for the staff at the Houses of Parliament.
9. Would you recommend Parliament to a friend?
This experience has opened up opportunities for me to go on to other experiences. I have now got some fantastic contacts that I will be able to use in my future career as well as to see them for a quick Lunch. The staff were fantastic, friendly and gave me plenty to do which has benefited me in so many ways.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Parliament?
Do not wait for an application process to come up but apply to your MP directly. If you make efforts to campaign with them or make yourself known to them beforehand then you are much more likely to get a placement. Be clear what you want out of the experience so they can make sure you come at a time where Parliament is running things that will benefit you. Don't forget about things like Parliamentary recess.