Case study

Policy advisor — Ellie Milone

Working as a policy advisor for the Mayor of Bristol has put Ellie at the heart of decision making in her city

How did you get into working in policy?

I'd been working in the Mayor's office at Bristol City Council as a diary manager when a role became available for a policy assistant within the team. Given my strong interest in politics and policy-making, and a desire to be closer to the political side of the office, I applied for the role and was successful. I was then promoted to the role of policy advisor.

What's a day as a policy advisor like?

The role is very varied, and each day and week can look different. My work activities include undertaking research and analysis in relation to strategic, policy or operational matters, drafting briefings, speeches, reports and presentations, and supporting the Mayor and cabinet members at events and meetings.

I've also led on discreet projects, such as the City Leadership Programme, and have a role in managing positive citizen relationships on behalf of the Mayor through email and telephone communication.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I've realised how much I value being close to the decision making which affects my city, and the reasons why things are the way they are. I really enjoy meeting people when I'm out with the Mayor, getting honest feedback on the decisions he has taken and having an open discussion about the realities of city governance. And, being a bit of a politics geek, I enjoy seeing how local democracy functions in practice, and how national politics plays out on a local level.

What are the most challenging parts?

Preparing for statutory meetings can sometimes be a challenge if there is a packed agenda. We prepare answers to public and councillor questions for the Mayor and it can sometimes be a pressurised (but exciting) environment when we are pulling everything together into his script.

How has your policy degree helped you in your role?

My politics degree definitely gave me the foundations to understand public policy making - the relationship between central and local government and the reality of devolved powers and democratic functions, which are all key aspects of this role.

What are your career ambitions?

My career ambition is to remain in roles which have a direct impact on the place I live. Working at the council, and specifically in the Mayor's office, I'm involved in decision making which affects my city. It's that direct connection which makes this role so fulfilling.

Do you have any advice for others wanting to work in policy?

After graduating, I didn't realise how varied the roles are at local authorities - so don't rule out looking for policy-related jobs on council job sites. The experience you'll need is usually a degree (or equivalent) with an emphasis on writing and research skills, an understanding of the local political landscape, understanding of central government policy in respect of local government, effective communication skills and the ability to work to deadlines on your own initiative.

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