Working for an MP

Author
Emma Knowles, Editor
Posted
February, 2019

If you'd like to become established in the political world, working for a Member of Parliament (MP) is a good starting point. You can find work within your local constituency or at the heart of the action in the House of Commons

The 2017 General Election saw 650 MPs elected to parliament, one from each constituency in the UK. MPs split their time between their constituency, their political party and Parliament in Westminster, and are responsible for voting on new laws and legislation, attending debates and campaigning for issues the people of their constituency feel passionately about.

As an MP's assistant, you'll be crucial to the smooth running of campaigns, events and day-to-day life in the community.

Why work for an MP?

Political issues are often at the front and centre of news bulletins, and the unpredictability of the field means each day will bring new challenges and obstacles to overcome.  

You'll be making and implementing change that will have a real effect on the lives of those the changes affect - either within your constituency if you work in local government or on a national scale if you're employed in Westminster. If you feel passionately about a political party, you'll experience a great deal of job satisfaction seeing plans and policies put into action that you've helped bring together.

Working as an MP's assistant is the first step in a political career for many. If you're working in local government, moving to parliament may be your next career move. The skills and experience you'll accrue could see you working for more high-profile politicians, working internationally or embarking on your own political career in the future.

Find out more about the responsibilities, salary benefits and working hours of a politician's assistant.

What jobs are available?

MPs typically hire a team of people, rather than a single assistant. The team is usually split between the MP's constituency office - based in their constituency, for the purpose of meeting constituency members and welcoming other MPs - and the national political offices in Westminster. However, as MPs hire their staff directly, the structure of their teams, whether they hire full or part-time staff and where their team is based, can vary.

As a caseworker in a constituency office, you'll be responsible for providing advice and support on issues in the local community such as immigration, housing and benefits, as well as liaising with government agencies and local media outlets. You'll attend local and national events and help to solve problems in your local community.

Jobs in Westminster are more directly related to assisting MPs with parliamentary work. Your responsibilities could include:

  • keeping your MP up to date on key issues and policy developments
  • drafting and writing speeches, articles and correspondence
  • overseeing media coverage of your MP
  • liaising with the constituency office team on local and national issues
  • general diary management.

Titles you could be hired under in Parliament include parliamentary researcher, parliamentary secretary and parliamentary assistant, each with their own set of responsibilities.

What skills and qualifications do I need?

The role of a politician's assistant can be demanding. Because of this you'll need a well-developed skillset, including:

  • the ability to cope in high-pressure situations
  • adaptability at short notice
  • excellent written and verbal communication
  • high levels of organisation, including the ability to multitask
  • firm but fair debating skills.

You'll also need a degree to work for an MP. While the role is open to all graduates, a degree in a related subject, such as politics, law or social policy, will be an advantage. Your classification isn't essential - in this field, a first-class degree won't put you ahead of other candidates.

Instead, it's your work experience and enthusiasm that will make you stand out. Highlight any prior experience of shadowing an MP or completing a work placement in local government, or any skills MPs look for in their assistants that you've developed, as early on in your application as possible.

Don't worry if you haven't had the opportunity to gain relevant work experience. You could impress employers by getting involved in your university's student elections or sharing your knowledge of and passion for politics online, through a blog, vlog or podcast.

How do I apply?

Search for MP assistant vacancies at:

Local government websites will display opportunities within constituencies. Alternatively, political party websites will display vacancies for positions nationwide.

However, many roles are filled via word-of-mouth, or through existing MP assistants moving positions, so won't be advertised to the general public. If there's a particular MP or party you'd like to work for, consider sending a speculative application to show your interest.

In your application, explain why you'd like to work in this particular position. Show that you're familiar with the MP's policies and beliefs, and what you could bring to their party. You're more likely to be offered work if you can demonstrate a real connection - approaching the MP of the constituency you live in is typically a good starting point.

Find out more about the policies and work of different MPs by visiting www.parliament.uk - MPs, theyworkforyou or local government websites.

Find out more