A quick look on the excellent W4MP job site will reveal a glut of current vacancies working alongside MPs as parliamentary assistants, case workers and researchers. Working as a parliamentary assistant is a well worn graduate track for those interested in working in policy for think tanks, campaigning organisations or public affairs companies. Some of the vacancies ask for specific experience, either in parliament, with casework or in a particular research area, but most are graduate level and are more focussed on applicants with enthusiasm, drive, research skills , communications skills and political common-sense.
Here are a few tips I have picked up over the years from those who have successfully secured these positions.
- Make sure you know all about the MP you are applying to. What are their special interests, what committees do they sit on, what are the big issues in their constituency etc. Show that you know this in the cover letter and make a connection between your interests and theirs.
- Most MP's will be looking for someone who shares their political ideology. W4MP is currently advertising vacancies with MPs from the Labour, Conservative, SNP Parties, a Liberal Democrat and cross bench Lord. There are some exceptions and as long as you feel comfortable working on their polices and have a pragmatic approach there are MPs who will not expect you to be a dyed in the wool supporter.
- Much of the work of a Caseworker or Constituency Assistant is responding to constituents and advocating on their behalf. Any experience you have dealing with public or providing advice, guidance or support to broad groups would be helpful. You need to be able to communicate at many levels.
Careers and Employability at King's is open over the summer if you are a current student or alumni who needs help honing their application.