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Meet Queen Mary’s Parliamentary Placement Students

This year will see the graduation of another group of Queen Mary students who have been lucky enough to get the chance to work closely with MPs from all parties as part of their course. We caught up with some of them to learn more about the experience.

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Final year students at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London have the opportunity to do a placement at Westminster or in a London constituency office as an integral part of their studies.

Students take a module on Parliamentary Studies in the autumn and then undertake their placement with a parliamentarian between January and April. The module gives students a view of British parliamentary politics from the inside.

Queen Mary’s parliamentary placement students in 2018 have worked for the three main political parties as well as the Scottish National Party.

How do the placements work?

Students will typically spend two days per week working for the parliamentarian. Placements take place either at Westminster or in constituency offices, or in some cases, both.

Students who take the Parliamentary Studies module at Queen Mary are assessed by completing a reflective journal of their day-to-day experiences and putting together a portfolio of the work they have done.

The internship opportunity is intensive and often demanding, but provides students with experience and useful skills for those interested in a career in politics or politically related fields.

Responsibilities vary from producing research briefings for MPs, writing newsletters and supporting with administrative tasks.

A valuable development opportunity

Aman Halai worked for a former Labour minister. He said: “The placement not only saw me use swathes of what I had learnt at Queen Mary in a practical sense, but also allowed me to develop as a person. From communicating with constituents to getting a feel for working in an office alongside wonderful colleagues, it was a brilliant experience overall”.

Maleeka Clarke did a placement with a SNP MP. She reflected: “Adapting to the language of Westminster was a challenge but I went from awkwardly not understanding terms and acronyms to being able to dissect and cite complex information from inquiries and debates. I was able to prove my skills and development my knowledge, I would definitely recommend it.”

Yasmin Samra worked for a Labour MP. She said: “As I am applying for jobs, I have found that many prospective employers ask for experience in an MP’s office. I am lucky to have had this opportunity and am able to harness the experience given to me through my internship.”

Emily Bourne was also with a Labour MP. She commented: “I simply would not have been able to get this level of experience on my own accord. Trying to arrange it on my own with my local MP was virtually impossible.”

Challenges and rewards

Calum Jose worked for a Labour MP. He said: “The autonomy that I was afforded meant I had all my own research which was a challenge. I also met people who I did not know to discuss subjects that I was not necessarily an expert on. It was an incredibly rewarding experience.”

Gopesh Pathak worked for a Conservative MP. He said: “The experience was a real education in what it’s like to work in politics as well as a rare and welcome opportunity to see just how much academic theories are in touch with practical reality. It was a fantastic opportunity and the value of the experience should not be limited to a black-and-white debate about money as the benefits are more nuanced.”

The view from parliament

Queen Mary student Bilal Khan supported a south west London Labour MP. According to the MP: "Bilal was always a dedicated, passionate and promising intern in my office during the months he spent here. His eagerness to learn and develop the skills of a parliamentary researcher were always on display that matched well with his strong and attentive academic knowledge of politics itself. It has been a pleasure."

Further information