Interning at the heart of Kentish democracy

Third year History and Politics student Meg Payne secured two weeks of work experience at the heart of Kentish democracy through Kent’s Employability Points scheme. She blogs about the experience here.

Between finishing my final year exams and graduating, I spent two weeks in the Governance, Law, and Democracy division at Kent County Council. Sitting in on cabinet and committee meetings, gaining valuable advice and insight from key figures in the council, and producing an individual project were just highlights of the two weeks, but every day provided opportunities to form relationships, understand more about local government, develop new skills and strengthen existing ones.

I accessed this work experience through the Employability Points scheme at Kent. The scheme rewards students for their co-curricular activities with points that can be redeemed against work experience opportunities, ranging from skills development sessions to 12-week paid internships. After a short application process and a few interviews, I was successful in securing three opportunities, this one at Kent County Council being one of them. I can’t recommend this scheme enough, it’s the perfect way to get rewarded for all the extra work and volunteering you may be doing outside your studies, and you could end up getting work experience, and being paid for it too!

Meg and Kent Law student, Lewis, with their work experience coordinators at Kent County Council, Jill and Ryan.

My time at KCC couldn’t have been more rewarding. I was working alongside another Kent student, learning about the processes and actions being taken to maintain and improve the systems of governance, law, and democracy at the council. I gained valuable skills that ranged from networking, to how to effectively utilise every different Microsoft application, and made new friends along the way. Doors were never closed to us, leaving us feeling that we had genuine and meaningful insight into the inner workings of the council and its officers and elected councillors. Moreover, this experience was great for refining and shaping my future career plans, and exposing me to the huge variety of interesting roles and career opportunities that I didn’t even know existed, even just within one local authority.

“I finally know what I want to do ‘when I grow up'”

This experience also provided the opportunity to undertake an individual project that would be used by the council to inform future activities, projects and reports, and these were tailored to our specific areas of interest and knowledge. I produced a report and presentation on the diversity of KCC’s elected Members, and voter engagement in the 2021 County Council elections, and made recommendations for KCC to improve these areas ahead of the next elections in 2025. It was really rewarding to feel like I was contributing something to the council and its work, especially as local authorities across the country are suffering under financial strain and a lack of resources.

These two weeks were instrumental in equipping me with new skills, and confidence, and helped me to feel like I may have found an area of work that suits me, and to finally know what I want to do ‘when I grow up’. I can’t recommend getting involved with the Employability Points scheme enough, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of the opportunities it has opened up for myself and my fellow students.

Meg has just completed her BA (Hons) in History and Politics.