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Working in politics during our placements: Aidan, Eddie and Ewa’s stories

Aidan, Eddie and Ewa worked within the APPG on Fair Business Banking during their professional placements, gaining real-world experience of careers in politics.

Aidan, Eddie and Ewa spent their professional placements working for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking. APPGs are cross-party groups with members from the House of Commons and the House of Lords that work on common interests in particular policy areas, or important topics with regions or locations.

Ewa did her placement in 2021/22 as part of her BSc (Hons) Politics with Economics degree. She’s now working for the Bank of England on their graduate scheme.

Eddie graduated from BSc (Hons) Politics and International Relations in 2021 and is now Private Secretary to Director of Communications & Marketing for the Department for Business and Trade.

Aidan is studying BSc (Hons) Politics and International Relations and finished his placement in 2023. We spoke to all three of them to find out more about their placement experiences.

Why did you choose Bath and this placement?

Ewa: I chose to study at Bath because of the placement scheme. The placement team have really good relationships with employers and having the experience of a placement is invaluable once you graduate. I applied for a few different placements, but when I saw this one that involved Parliament, politics and the economy, it felt like a good fit for me.

Eddie: Lots of students leave university without any work experience, so I thought the placement was invaluable. It was also a way to help you build a network and connections. I chose to do my placement with this APPG because I was really interested in experiencing what it’s like in Parliament. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like banking and finance, but it looked like an interesting brief and working alongside MPs in the chambers really appealed.

Aidan: The placement was a really big selling point and was an important factor when choosing my course. I felt the placement would give me really good real-life experience and it looked very interesting. I also like the idea of working for a cross-party backbench organisation and it’s been fascinating working in Parliament. I didn’t have a special interest in finance, but I’ve learned so much about key issues, it’s been such a great opportunity.

‘I left my placement feeling like I’d changed as a person and getting the graduate job is testament to how much I’ve grown professionally and socially.’
Ewa BSc (Hons) Politics with Economics

Were there any stand-out moments or projects you worked on during the placement?

Aidan: We’ve had 3 Prime Ministers since I started and I’ve met lots of people in Parliament. I also got to go to COP27 in Egypt and help organise our stand, which was quite a challenge in a cold tent in the desert – I really didn’t think I’d be doing that when I arranged my placement! Just being at events and experiencing people from different backgrounds talking about policies and important issues was just fantastic. At first, I found Parliament quite overwhelming, but I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, which is great. The team at the APPG have been so helpful and really lovely to work with.

Eddie: I had been working with the APPG for a few months when we went into the first lockdown, so I ended up helping 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. We had about 40 MPs on one call, which is unprecedented. I think we made headline news in the Financial Times and BBC News. So, experiences like that were really valuable.

Ewa: I worked on some really interesting and tough projects around fraudulent activity. Some of these events occurred years ago, but still involved businesses fighting for compensation. You meet people whose lives have been torn apart and we got involved in trying to raise awareness of the issues. I also 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.

What skills have you gained?

Eddie: You do so much in the role. I was learning new skills every day, such as dealing with casework, briefings and stakeholder engagement. The role also involved a lot of organisational skills and managing diaries. You also increase your networking skills, attending some fantastic events and developing relationships with a really valuable pool of contacts, that I still keep in touch with. Alongside that, I learned other skills, such as, having the confidence to be direct and stand up for myself, being an active listener and keeping composed with senior people like MPs, ministers and CEOs.

Aidan: I’ve become more confident working in a team, in a professional environment and forming good professional relationships. I’ve also learnt how to work more flexibly, which is not something I had experience of before. I really enjoyed helping with the events logistics too.

Ewa: In terms of soft skills, I’ve learnt how to work under pressure, reacting quickly and being flexible. You also have to communicate effectively and be precise, so my communication skills have improved greatly. In terms of hard skills, I learnt more about the political systems and how it all works, which was really interesting. I’ve also learnt more about the economy and business banking sector and how banks interact with each other.

Would you recommend doing a placement with an APPG?

Aidan: Absolutely! It’s fantastic in terms of learning and development, it’s also really good real-life experience. It is stressful at times, but the team are great, so friendly, and I’ve learnt so many transferrable skills. The opportunities are endless.

Eddie: Without doubt! I've always known I wanted to go into politics or civil service government and the placement was one of the defining features of the course, for me. Doing this placement helped me confirm that I wanted to continue working for the civil service, moving to a more senior policy role eventually. I’m currently in the Department for Business and Trade, but I’d like to go back into Parliament eventually and the placement helps you build up all these connections that are really useful as your career progresses. I highly recommend it.

Ewa: I genuinely loved it! It was really rewarding, gives you a really good work ethic and enables you to explore what you do (and don’t) want to do. The experience is also invaluable for future employment. Doing the placement has definitely made me want to stay in the public sector. Working with the APPG on Fair Business Banking has encouraged me to pursue an ‘economics’ career path and the experience I gained helped me secure a job from the Bank of England on their graduate scheme, which is amazing. I left my placement feeling like I’d changed as a person and getting the graduate job is testament to how much I’ve grown professionally and socially.

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