We asked third-year LLB (Hons) Law with Politics student, Andrew Irvine, to reflect on his four week work placement with Tim Farron, MP. Andrew shares his thoughts below, including new things he learnt and advice he would give to current students who are thinking about a work placement opportunity.
“While on placement, I got to experience a variety of jobs that working for an MP entails. One activity that I particularly enjoyed was writing emails to respond to constituents as well as sometimes to a Secretary of State.”
LLB (Hons) Law with Politics
I spent part of August and September working with Tim Farron MP. Tim is a Liberal Democrat MP. Elected in 2005, he is now one of the longest serving Lib Dem MPs. Tim’s office is in Kendal as he is the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale. He is currently the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, but was their leader between 2015 and 2017. Therefore, his time as Lib Dem leader oversaw the campaign during the EU Referendum and experienced the immediate aftermath of the result. Moreover, he is the only one out the fifteen UK Lib Dem MPs whose constituency is in the North of England. In Tim’s office, there are ten staff who work for him, helped by regular volunteers who come in around once a week.
There were lots of interesting jobs that I got involved with on my placement, including making casework notes, entering data and door-knocking. I found this last activity challenging at first as I had to ask if constituents would consider voting Lib Dem at the next election. I had to really think about how I should phrase the question, considering how to ask this in a way that would give the best chance finding out the answer. I found I got more confident at door-knocking as the four weeks went by.
What surprised me during the placement was the amount of effort that MPs and their staff put into their work. This was especially the number of meetings the MP does in a regular day, as well as the amount of organising that staff of an MP need to do to ensure everything runs smoothly. I thought this was very commendable. I learned that no two days are exactly the same. You could be delivering leaflets in a neighbouring town one day and then be in a series of meetings with Tim the next day. This was beneficial to me as it meant I was always busy and never get fatigued from doing the same job.
“The placement has been a boost to me. My CV will now be more attractive to employers as work experience with an MP is not always easy to achieve; more specifically my CV will look more attractive to employers in the world of politics.“
I found the four weeks I spent at Tim Farron’s office to be very enjoyable. It has helped me to realise that it’s good to come out of your comfort zone and to try new experiences. I would certainly encourage other students to do the same and I would definitely recommend doing a placement with an MP or in the world of politics in general. During the four weeks of my placement I found my confidence improved, whether this was through talking to constituents or by carrying out the office tasks. Although I accept not everyone will enjoy a placement in politics as much as I did, it is certainly a worthwhile experience and great to put on your CV. I’m sure whatever your placement, you’ll find you will learn valuable things from the experience you’ll have
Andrew clearly had a great time and learned a lot but we wanted to hear from his ’employer’ too, so we asked Tim Farron what he thought.
“Andrew was a joy to have with us in our constituency office for his placement. He got stuck in with all the tasks that were given to him including data entry, delivering literature, door-knocking and aiding myself at local events including the big Westmorland County show. I note that in the feedback he gave us he really enjoyed his time in the office and that he felt his confidence has improved, which I’m super pleased to hear. I’m massively grateful to Andrew for his hard work.”
Tim Farron MP
Politics and International Relations Programme Leader Paula Keaveney added.
“ At Edge Hill we take a very real-world approach to Politics, whether that be working on projects, writing Select Committee Submissions or meeting MPs. Work experience is an excellent way to bring politics to life and we look forward to seeing even more students take up the opportunity”
BSc (Hons) Politics & International Relations launches at Edge Hill University in Autumn 2024. We focus our teaching on the real world and the current political landscape. You will graduate with the skills and knowledge to work within the system and change people’s lives. If you understand politics, you understand how the world works, and how to change it for the better.
October 6, 2023