02 October 2019

Working in this political environment has strengthened my career aspirations

Upper Sixth student Liam Velani reflects on work experience in the Houses of Parliament, and how seeing UK politics in action has boosted his career aspirations.

During the last Sixth Form Enrichment week, I undertook work experience as part of a scheme offered by the House of Commons.

I spent the week shadowing the HR Department’s Recruitment and Diversity team, who are responsible for managing the workforce of the legislature, which is estimated to be around 2,500 members of staff. As part of this I learnt about their rigorous selection process, including the stages of examinations and interviews and their subsequent on-boarding process, where they ensure the completion of forms following the acceptance of a job offer, prior to starting employment.

During  this time, I undertook a project which focused on the job descriptions and advertisements for employment opportunities within the organisation, compiling any areas where improvements could be made to the template, structure and information mentioned. I then had the opportunity to present my report as part of a presentation to staff within the HR Department, which was a great opportunity to develop my presentation skills and my ability to discuss findings.

The placement also allowed me to further develop my knowledge of Politics, and to learn in greater detail the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Visiting during a volatile, yet exciting time for British politics gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand the work that parliamentarians and their support staff carry out. On the second day, I watched the House of Commons Questions to the then Justice Secretary David Gauke, as they debated the second reading of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill.

On the fourth day, as part of a guided tour of the two houses, I watched questions in the House of Lords, where Peers including Earl Howe and Lord Duncan, were questioned on the activities of their respective departments.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to watch Prime Minister’s Questions, which is a half hour slot for the Prime Minister to answer questions every week from other Members of Parliament. This was an amazing experience to hear important debates between the government and the opposition on subjects including Britain’s international arm sales. I also watched the Speaker’s Procession, a historical custom when the Speaker, along with staff from his private office, proceed to the Commons chamber from his residence each morning.

On the final day, I went with fellow work experience students to visit Westminster Abbey, which is situated directly across Parliament Square. On a guided tour, we visited the historical buildings and learnt about their long religious history, as well as their association with Parliament.

I feel very privileged to have been accepted for this work experience scheme at the House of Commons, being able to learn about its important political role as well as the behind-the-scenes operations which supports its political functions. The experience of working in this political environment has strengthened my career aspirations and has allowed me to explore additional paths which are available to me.