Case study

Senior caseworker — Lucy Marshall

Working for a politician is a dynamic job and Lucy enjoys helping local people and her community

How did you get your job?

When I graduated from my BA combined honours in philosophy and political economy I asked my MP for some work experience.

I was then offered an internship followed by a permanent position.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

The subjects I studied were relevant in helping me to secure my position. Most MPs hire people who can demonstrate a real interest in politics and those with at least some politics modules in their degree are likely to be favoured during recruitment.

That I did a multi-discipline degree has been an advantage, as those who have done pure politics degrees are often not so versed in the sort of useful critical thinking skills that are often taught in philosophy modules.

What are your main work activities?

My job involves dealing with enquiries and correspondence from constituents, concerning either helping them with their personal circumstances, or advising them on government policy and the MP's views. I research and draft responses by liaising with the appropriate bodies or organisations.

I also help to run the MP's diary and provide briefs for meetings. I deal with the media by arranging interviews and assist with drafting articles.

In addition I update the MP's social media pages and also attend meetings or events when the MP cannot.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I'm fortunate that my role as an intern developed into a full-time job. Working for an MP provides a wealth of opportunity to interact with different sectors.

In the future I'm interested in expanding the work I have done with the media by pursuing a career in political journalism.

What do you enjoy about your job?

There are many things I enjoy about my job; the political sector is a dynamic environment and no two days are the same. I like not knowing what issues will come up each day and constantly learning about different things.

Anyone who works for an MP has to wear many hats and the days are never boring as it can be like having several jobs at once.

The best thing about working in this area is it's rewarding. You help local people and the community, whilst keeping up with policy developments and meeting interesting people.

What are the most challenging parts?

The job is very busy and you have to think on your feet. MPs are in-demand people and do not have large teams of staff. You have to work independently and imaginatively as there is little formal guidance; how MPs' staff work certainly varies from MP to MP.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

For those interested in working for an MP, I recommend asking your own MP for some work-experience. Really make the most of any opportunity. Though you may be given some more secretarial tasks to start with, show you can do them well and ask to be given more.

I also recommend contacting your local political associations or councillors in order to start to gain some insight in to how politics works on the ground.

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