Inspired by her studies, student Rhianna took up work experience in Parliament

Our ground-breaking Parliamentary Studies module gives students expertise in how parliaments operate, bringing in politicians and parliamentary staff to seminar classes. We recently heard from student Alice Day about how her submission of evidence came to be published by a Select Committee. Now Rhianna Camsell tells us about her work experience in Parliament, inspired by Parliamentary Studies.

Photograph of House of Commons

You can read Rhianna's account here:

During the first semester of my final year studying Politics here at the University of Sheffield I took Parliamentary Studies. The module was taught by the inspiring Matt Flinders and was definitely the most interesting module I have studied. The captivating subject, the fact we had several speakers from Parliament come in, and the way Matt taught the subject sparked my curiosity in embarking upon a career in Parliament.

I felt I wanted some first-hand experience of what really goes on in Parliament before I began specialising regarding my future aspirations. As such, Matt kindly introduced me to one of the speakers who came in to chat with us about Parliament. Through the visitor, Andrew Kennon, I was put in contact with a Select Committee I was interested in – the Education Committee. We agreed on a week I could come down to Westminster and work with them, seeing what their day-to-day duties entail.

Part of the week I spent with the Committee involved me researching, writing reports and summarising evidence given by the public on inquiries for the Committee. This was fulfilling as it gave me a true sense of what a specialist does working in a Commons Committee. I also developed my writing and communication skills through these tasks. Another aspect of my time there which helped me to understand how procedures and processes work was the shadowing I did. I observed how the staff members interacted with the committee members (all Members of Parliament) and the Department for Education. This was eye-opening as I learnt about aspects of their responsibility that I had never even considered, such as their media duty and the - sometimes fractious! - relationship between departments.

Sitting in and watching oral evidence sessions in Portcullis House was truly enthralling; I especially found a session for a Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry of interest. This was because as part of the Parliamentary Studies module we had to write a Submission of Evidence for a Select Committee Inquiry – and I had chosen the Inquiry for which I sat in and watched. This made me realise that British politics is not something that is created only by the elite, but something anyone can influence and take part in. One of my fellow classmates’ submission was even published!

The Education Committee also set up time for me to spend with the Women and Equalities Committee, as they were aware this was also an area of interest for me. I enjoyed discussing not only policy and politics with the staff, but their career paths and possible career paths for me too. Everyone was extremely encouraging and supportive of my aspirations and this made me feel even more inclined to work in politics. I met with fast-streamers in the Civil Service too; their advice and experiences were valuable and stimulating. I was thoroughly pleased with not only the vast array of experiences I gained during my week in London, but the way in which the Education Committee had tailored the week to suit my interests. I learnt so much during my week of work experience in Westminster and it was topped off with a tour of Parliament at the end!

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