Getting a foot in the door

Working in Westminster Workshop

David Hoy and Murray McKirdle, two Exeter alumni and recent politics graduates who now work as parliamentary assistants, gave a talk on life in Westminster, how to make the most of an internship there and the best ways of getting a job.

David Hoy, who participated in the Politics Internship Programme while at University, said that the best way of getting a job in Westminster was to do work experience there, as this gives you the chance to build-up contacts and get a feel of what the place is like.  Murray added that even if you do not wish to work in Westminster, doing an internship and getting a reference will be a fantastic addition to your CV for whatever job you do wish to pursue.

They both stressed that at the heart of politics is the relationship between people.   MP’s offices are essentially small businesses, and like any employer they want to know that any new staff they take on will work well and ‘fit in’ with the office ethos.  Therefore, if you want to apply for an internship or a job at Westminster, you need to do research into the organisation or person you are applying to – so if you want to work for an MP, then find out about their views on different issues and their voting history (www.theyworkforyou.com is a good resource for this).  Are they on any committees? What are their interests beyond work?  Then make use of this information in your application.

If you do get an internship, then use your time wisely. Obviously you need to work hard and impress your employee, but make sure you also engage in activities within Parliament and get a feel of the place; talk to anybody and everybody and build-up your network of contacts – you never know who might offer you a job later!  Keep on top of current affairs and the political gossip – read blogs and newspapers from both left and right.  Above all, remember to behave in a professional and friendly manner and if you’re not sure about something, then ask!    

To find out more about the Exeter Politics Internship programme and to see what internship are currently on offer, then look at the mybrilliantcareer page on ELE, or contact the Politics Work Placement Coordinator, Benedict Hill b.hill@exeter.ac.uk.    

Date: 12 June 2013