Sector: Policy and Governance
From 18th September to 21st December 2012, I undertook a placement in the office of Julian Huppert MP. I travelled from Cambridge each morning and worked the latter half of the week in the Westminster office, primarily under the supervision of [...], Dr Huppert's parliamentary researcher.
The theme and content of my work during the course of the placement was diverse and interesting. I felt that after just a week or two in Westminster I had learned a great deal; not only regarding specific aspects of relevant current affairs, but also about the basic mechanisms of government. The members of the office were kind, welcoming and helpful, guiding me through the technical areas of which I had little knowledge yet giving me the time and space to exercise my own thoughts and efforts in relation to the job at hand.
During the course of my time in Westminster, I wrote speeches, articles, newspaper pieces, committee briefings, policy papers and other assorted documents. Projects would range from fifteen minutes of frantic internet research into various media contacts, to a detailed appraisal of future justice policy reform spanning weeks of focused research. Although the time in London was billed as a "policy placement” with a focus on science, the reality was refreshingly varied. I was privileged enough to attend meetings with a feminist lobby and then enact the points discussed, including writing to schools in Cambridgeshire and composing parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for further debate in the House of Commons.
I particularly enjoyed writing and editing a number of pieces regarding science funding for publication in national and regional magazines. As such, I am deeply grateful to Dr Huppert, [and his staff] for the time and energy they invested in my placement. I hope that my presence was positive and that the work I carried out was of value; my attempts to represent the views of an MP were perhaps occasionally mixed with my own. In such cases, it is merely reflective of the interest and passion I had for many of the subjects with which I was fortunate enough to work.
Overall I have valued my time on placement a great deal. It has given me a greater depth of skills in a wide array of working sectors, and allowed me to explore the options available to graduates outside of the difficult and undervalued market for post-doctoral researchers.