Placement students are keen, intelligent and eager to learn. Because of this, they can be of great value an organisation. One organisation we partner with is the APPG (all-party parliamentary groups on Fair Business Banking, who have employed humanities and social sciences placement students regularly.
APPGs are cross-party groups, with members from the House of Commons and the House of Lords, set up to discuss a particular issue of concern and explore relevant issues relating to their topic. There are hundreds of APPG groups tackling different topics and are a very effective way of bringing together parliamentarians and interested stakeholders, building consensus and a pressure for change in certain areas.
The APPG on Fair Business Banking (originally APPG for Interest Rate Swap Mis-selling) formed in 2012, bringing the plight of businesses mis-sold complex financial products to the attention of Parliament and the financial regulators. After expanding, their remit now recognises a wide range of problems persisting between private business and their finance providers.
We spoke to Heather Buchanan (Director of Policy & Strategy, at the APPG on Fair Business Banking); and Ewa Ward, Eddie Feddon, and Aidan Murley (who did placements at the APPG for Fair Business Banking) to find out more about the abilities placements students bring and their placement experiences.
Why does the APPG on Fair Business Banking recruit Bath students?
Heather Buchanan: “We got involved with the placement scheme at Bath because I needed extra assistance and we’ve been involved for the past four years. Each year we get around 30 students applying. We are looking for people with the right attitude, we know they will be intelligent, but it’s very much about their attitude and it is critical that they appreciate this is not a normal 9am-5pm job.
“The thing about a placement with us, is that you are thrown into the deep end straight away, so we look for a specific type of person. They need to appreciate that we are a small, tight team, and their work often needs to be actioned immediately, we have to work fast and react quickly to events suddenly unfolding. But despite being hard work, it’s a fantastic experience.”
What are the benefits of having a Bath placement student?
HB: APPGs benefit from having placement students because they bring fresh ideas and we do encourage that. It’s also an extra pair of hands, which is always welcome.
It’s great having the consistency of a student for a whole year; they can really get to grips with multiple bite-sized projects. It’s especially useful for general research and, as our working environment is so concentrated, they also help to organise our diaries as well, which can be a significant challenge.
I would highly recommend other APPG’s take part in the placement scheme with the University of Bath. We are all stretched, there are never enough hours in the day, so having the opportunity to bring someone in who can hit the ground running and give them experience at the same time is brilliant for everyone.”
How can a placement student support an organisation?
Ewa Ward (Parliamentary Researcher in 2021/22) said: “You have to be quick and concise and have good communication skills.
“I worked on some really interesting and tough projects around fraudulent activity. I did a lot of researching, letter writing, releasing statements and liaising with the victims. These projects enabled me to get into the technicalities of the cases, which I really enjoyed.”
Ewa recently graduated from BSc (Hons) Politics with Economics and has started working for the Bank of England on their graduate scheme following graduation.
Eddie Feddon (Parliamentary Researcher in 2019/20) said: “I got involved in dealing with casework, briefings and stakeholder engagement. The role also included a lot of organisational skills and managing diaries.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I helped to move our processes online, teaching MPs how to use technology and organising webinars as well - we hosted a series of webinars during the pandemic with ministers and MPs, industrial bodies and banking institutions, along with SMEs, where they could discuss the bank backed support loans and the issues involved. I was also responsible for transitioning the in-person events to online.”
Eddie, a BSc (Hons) Politics and International Relations graduate, now works as Private Secretary to the Director of Communications & Marketing for the Department for Business and Trade.
Aidan Murley (Parliamentary Researcher in 2022/23) said: “I spent a lot of time helping to get things organised; this consisted of diary management and setting up meetings. I also wrote up big reports and case studies.
“I really enjoyed helping to arrange events and managing the logistics. You have to be good at working under pressure, reacting quickly and being flexible.”
Aidan is currently studying BSc (Hons) Politics and International Relations.