Recent Politics and IR Undergraduate Emma Booth, has had a fantastic start to her career, working in the House of Commons, and now working in Public Affairs. Reflecting upon her time at the House of Commons, Emma discusses working in Parliament and with MPs.
“From being Chair of Kent Labour Students to representing over 5000 students as Social Sciences Faculty Rep, it is safe to say my time at Kent provided me with the confidence and skills that got me to where I am today.
I was lucky enough to secure myself a job in the House of Commons working for two Labour MPs before I graduated (that said I would also urge you to have a well-deserved break post university pre work life). Working in the Commons is not like any other job you will do, you never really know what you might expect on a daily basis, what press calls you might receive or even if your MP is going to get promoted. I started off working for two shadow ministers, one in Education and one in Treasury so I quickly learnt exactly how parliament worked, and how to effectively hold government to account.
It would never cease to amaze me working in such a bold and historic building and just how much you would learn from being immersed in its surroundings every day. Before I started I always found MPs to be quite intimidating but once you’re working with them on a daily basis you build up an amazing relationship that you wouldn’t quite get in any other job. You’d know so much about them as a person to really grasp what exactly you had to do to make their lives easier.
You can talk to as many different parliamentary researchers/assistants (they’re the same thing) as you like but they’ll always have something different to tell you and a different angle on how parliament works and what it’s like to work for an MP. In many ways working in parliament feels like an extension to university, you’re with people your own age (most parliamentary researchers are young to mid-twenties although this isn’t always the case) who are also straight out of university and you’re just constantly learning. Whether it’s about a specific issue in your MPs constituency or trying to wrap your head around and do a briefing on the Finance Bill – no day will be like the other. The other secret bonus is that Parliament has a bar (correctly speaking it has several) where researchers from all parties will go to after work and try their best not to talk about politics.
I’ve now moved on from parliament, to work in Public Affairs – a job that requires you to know the ins and outs of how parliament works as well as knowing as many MPs as possible.
To those considering working in Parliament and even taking that job onto public affairs or press, I would highly recommend doing everything possible at university to get involved. It’s very easy to become obsessed with just focusing on your degree (which is still something you should do!) but you will gain all the life skills for a future career by getting involved with societies, playing sports and just leaving your comfort zone a little bit and taking on new challenges.”