Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman are hiring! May 10, 2013Posted by fionarichardson in : The Careers Group Blogs, politics , add a comment
Thanks to my colleague, Fiona Richardson, who works with War Studies students at King’s College London. She has flagged up one of the many interesting vacancies on our JobOnline service on her blog at http://www.careers.lon.ac.uk/blog/ppp
Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman are just two of the MPs advertising on JobOnline for a Case Worker or Parliamentary Assistant. There are currently 6 vacancies posted so whatever your political persuasion there should be something there to interest you. I have been careful not to include any that require you to have previous parliamentary experience though most do expect some evidence of research, community or casework experience. This need not come from employment but could certainly be garnered from volunteer work, internships or academic work. For more tips on how to get a job working for an MP look at the blog from 6th Feb 2013 on Working in Westminster.
Macchiatos, Kosovo and a Life Changing Experience April 12, 2013Posted by fionarichardson in : The Careers Group Blogs , add a comment
Thanks to Fiona Richardson from King’s College London for posting this blog about a summer school opportunity.
Andrea Garaiova is currently enrolled on the MA International Peace and Security, she has twice taken part in the summer programme run by the American University in Kosovo (AUK). Andrea found the experience so valuable she was keen to make students aware of this year’s programme. There is no escaping the fact that the experience comes with a hefty course fee but there are scholarships available, look under the application form tab of the website http://summer.aukonline.org/ .
Over to Andrea……
The Summer Programme 2013 on Peace-building, Post-conflict Transformation and Development organized by the American University in Kosovo is a fascinating experience, with incredible people and in exceptional environment – Pristina, Kosovo. Its participants are selected on the basis of their academic, extra-curricular and professional achievements and other elements from their backgrounds, in order to ensure the greatest possible diversity, excellence and mutual learning. Based on my personal experience, I can attest that the AUK succeeds at attracting brilliant, passionate, open-minded and dedicated students. On an everyday basis one finds oneself in a vivid discussion about religious tolerance, development practices or international interventions with peers from Pakistan, Peru, Egypt, Japan, Kosovo, Serbia, United States, Lithuania, Lebanon, Palestine, Azerbaijan, Israel, Nigeria and many other corners of the world.
The classes provide a comprehensive background in the central issues of conflict resolution, post-conflict transformation and development, ranging from history of the Balkans to UN interventions in foreign lands, economic theory and practice in post-conflict environments as well as issues of human rights or role of the media and journalism in conflict situations. The courses are taught by real world practitioners, e.g. former Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Kosovo, former generals, individuals with experience in development agencies such as USAID and in UN international interim/transitory administrations (UNMIK), leaders of local NGOs and many others. What is more, lecturers often bring in special speakers and guests – such as officers of the EU’s rule of law and justice mission in Kosovo (EULEX), Kosovo anti-corruption agency, Kosovo Government, International Committee of the Red Cross, international and national media representatives, different embassies based in Pristina. Last year, a group of students was received by the President of the Republic of Kosovo in an informal meeting.
The academic side of the programme is complemented by roundtables held at the end of each week with diplomats, financial institutions representatives, NGOs and journalists, thus giving the students the opportunity to ‘test’ the knowledge they have acquired in classes by raising issues and posing questions to those who are dealing with realities of a post-conflict, developing and state-’built’ environment every day. The panels also provide an excellent opportunity to network and establish contacts for future projects (dissertations, internships etc.).
All this happens in the vibrant capital city of Prishtina, with its unique atmosphere, overwhelmingly young and dynamic population and omnipresent caffes, bars and restaurants serving the best macchiatto in Europe (as every Kosovar tries to convince you, and it is not hard to believe) and the delicious Balkan cuisine. The programme also offers weekend trips to all the main cities and ‘tourist attractions’ in Kosovo as well as two week-long trips in other Balkan countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece), thus making it a true adventure full of new discoveries, sceneries, tastes and experiences.
While many foreigners are preoccupied about security in Kosovo, the words of one of the US Embassy officials in Pristina depict the true reality on the ground: ‘the only real danger in Kosovo is to drink too many macchiattos’ . Many of the previous participants have said that the AUK Summer Programme was a life-changing experience, numerous of them returning to Kosovo to pursue new activities and passions. While I cannot but agree with the ‘warning’ of the US representative, I have come to believe that the most plausible danger in Kosovo is that you fall in love with the country, as many did before you, and that you will be drawn back to it again and again.
Application process is open until 1 May 2013!
Diary of an NGO intern at DPI March 22, 2013Posted by gemmaludgate in : NGO, The Careers Group Blogs, politics , add a comment
Here is another post from my colleague Gemma Ludgate who works with the War Studies Department at King’s College, London. This is an interview with an intern at the Democratic Progress Institute.
Many thanks to Christopher, current DPI intern and War Studies student for this insight into the reality of interning… (For those of you not familiar with DPI they are an independent non-governmental organisation, seeking to provide expertise, combining research and practicable approaches to broaden bases for wider public involvement in promoting peace and democracy building.)
I chose to apply for a research internship at DPI as I thought it would give me an opportunity to engage in issues I was not immediately familiar with, and develop a stronger understanding of the ways in which a conflict resolution organisation functions. My interest in research and learning in the areas of peacebuilding/democracy building institutions rather than performing typical administrative duties alone drove me to make DPI a priority of interest as opposed to other organisations that might not afford me such capabilities every working day.
A large aspect of DPI’s work involves research, particularly regarding Middle Eastern and North African contexts as there is direct relevance to the aims and objectives of DPI within the organisation. The circulation of information at DPI is unique and useful – events and news that perhaps are not captured in the media spotlight are highlighted and shared among staff and interns. If you like an environment in which you are consistently learning about issues that you perhaps were not familiar with initially, the Institute provides this in abundance.
Working hours for interns typically involve a minimum of 3 days a week, sometimes delegated with flexibility to accommodate studying commitments. There are around 8 staff members complimented by around 7-9 unpaid interns. Work stations for interns are accommodating and perfectly functional – computers are located within the basement area and staff members are very helpful in offering the maximum amount of resources available to make life easier. Facilities are in perfect working condition to provide a positive atmosphere; interns are friendly and often from similar backgrounds of study (although geographically come from all over the world).
Interns are typically encouraged to sit among staff members and to rotate desks – all work stations are accessible by interns and staff alike. This allows a unique environment of knowing and understanding the work that staff and interns are doing within a period, giving transparency of the projects that are being undertaken within the organisation, and a good sense of teamwork and co-operation amongst everyone.
Research Internship position
I was granted a Research Internship position at DPI as part of the DPI-KCL War Studies Department Internship Programme. This programme offers limited places to KCL War Studies Department students with a specific interest in conflict resolution and democratic transition processes, and the placements offered centre around a specific research project.
My particular task at DPI has been to prepare a research report relevant to the aims and objectives of DPI. There was a lot of flexibility regarding my topic choice, and a lot of support offered regarding the possible routes and case studies I could look at. It is hoped that my research will result in an 8000-12,000 word working paper, and be used as a resource of the Institute. Topics to research at DPI include the role of diaspora, methods of civil society mediation, minority rights, effectiveness of grassroots democracy, the role of women in conflict resolution and many other related subjects. My choice of topic was the importance of approach when looking at the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration of combatants in a post-conflict context. Too often have strategies for DDR been drafted and formulated in policy-making circles by those who are themselves distanced from the conflict at ground level, and has struggled to be effective as a result. My paper looks at lessons learnt from previous unsuccessful DDR operations, and aims to reflect on ways to fully integrate all stakeholders in DDR processes to further enhance their effectiveness. One primary case study used in my paper was Afghanistan – the levels of exclusivity and disconnect from the many stakeholders involved in the conflict have perpetuated violence within this region, whilst the inability to create an environment worth reintegrating into has also stood as a problem for the prospects of civilian life. Afghanistan has therefore provided a valuable case study when looking at these particular issues.
One of the most unique aspects of the research internship position is the opportunity to significantly contribute to the research of the organisation in particular areas, and for the work that one does to be used by the Institute as part of their resources, whether on the DPI website, in published papers, or as part of interns
In addition to research projects, the main obligation for interns at DPI is to cover reception duty for at least one shift a week. This typically involves receiving phone calls and patching them through to the relevant recipients, posting outgoing mail and recording incoming mail, along with handling guests and incomers with care. This probably comes as the more mundane aspect of work, yet there are only very occasionally times where office duties occur throughout the whole day, and most of the time it is balanced. Everyone works together to organise shifts so that no one person has to consistently do them! The work is shared among internal knowledge
Tasks that require immediate attention are often sent out from staff members to interns in order for an intern/number of interns to complete. The delegation of resources and division of labour is therefore at the interns’ discretion when completing these. These two things invariably come as the only major obligations that interns are asked to fulfil within the office, and most of the time is spent working independently (and co-ordinated when required), in a self-supervised way.
Tips for interns at the Democratic Progress Institute:
- There is office etiquette to work effectively independently. You’re going to be engaging with tasks with relative freedom, yet when deadlines for jobs come by then they are expected to be completed with aplomb. Pretty much how you would function at university level.
- Commitment to the shifts you have chosen is required – the office is very friendly and understanding, but advanced notice must be given if you cannot attend a certain shift. Failure of notification creates problems in regards to delegating tasks if there are a different number of interns than initially agreed in the workplace. This is useful in getting a sense of what it is like to work for an organisation – the same applies to staff and interns alike.
- - Always ask when you encounter problems – all staff and interns alike are highly approachable. If you are finding trouble in doing something you were set out to do, don’t be afraid to ask!
- Ask staff what they are working on, to get an understanding of things that are going on in the office. Sharing among staff and interns often happens during monthly staff-intern lunches where everyone brings a dish of their own, and a staff member gives a talk on what they are working on. Contributing in these particular environments is encouraged.
Overall I can say that DPI has offered me an opportunity to really engage with important conflict issues that perhaps many other organisations would be less flexible about. Having the freedom to look in depth at DDR and some very specific elements of the subject has been a strong highlight on a personal level. The levels of transparency between staff and interns, along with the high levels of interaction between everyone in the team makes for a very pleasant working environment. Experience you gain here will definitely stand you in good stead for future prospects in the field of conflict resolution and democratic progress.
Thought you’d missed the Faststream boat? Not quite March 4, 2013Posted by gemmaludgate in : Government, The Careers Group Blogs, politics , add a comment
Now here’s another useful post from Gemma Ludgate, my colleague who works at King’s College, London. While I’m on the subject of Parliament I’m also going to flag up a list of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups which I posted on our Facebook site. Here is the direct link
Did you know that the Houses of Parliament have their own fast stream process?
Working in either House of Parliament is a fascinating career for anyone interested in the constitution, politics and public policy. Careers may appeal to those whose interests are divided between the academic and the practical, and who enjoy being close to the parliamentary process without to engage in the cut and thrust of politics themselves. Essential qualities for all these posts include an interest in current affairs, the capacity to work as a member of a team and the ability to produce information which is clear and accurate and advice which is persuasive, both in writing and orally, when under pressure. In both Houses political impartiality is essential to ensure the confidence of Members of Parliament of all parties. The capacity to lead and manage projects and teams is becoming increasingly important to those pursuing a career in either House.
Fast Streamers are employees of one or other House, not Civil Servants, and serve Parliament, not the Government of the day, although conditions of service and the grading structure are linked to, and kept broadly in line with, the Civil Service. In recent years two or three vacancies for Fast Streamers have arisen in each House annually. Fast Streamers can expect to serve in a variety of roles across either House from supporting Select Committees to involvement in the Houses’ administration.
Jobonline link here
Highlights of the Working in Westminster event last Thursday! February 6, 2013Posted by gemmaludgate in : The Careers Group Blogs, event, politics , add a comment
The final event of public policy week was a forum looking at the career experiences of two speakers working in and around Westminster.
Dr Ruth Levitt worked as a research assistant for the MP David Owen during the period he and three others set up a new party the SDP.Â She then stood as a parliamentary candidate fighting tooth and nail as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Nuneaton. Unfortunately unelected, she then worked as a policy analyst inside Westminster for the Offices of Public Service Reform.Â She now works as a policy analyst in research and has produced extensive work on the role of Tsars.
Kate McCann is a more recent graduate, after leaving University she worked as a parliamentary intern for Anne Milton MP.Â When Anne Milton moved from opposition to become Under Secretary of State for Health after the 2010 election, Kate became her Researcher in Westminster.Â Kate has now moved into Political Journalism and is the Local Government reporter for The Guardian.
This blog concentrates on working for an MP…
- Whilst working for an MP as an intern Kate said that her work load involved responding to letters and emails, attending relevant select committees, arranging meetings for the MP, writing press releases, working with the media and drafting speeches.
- Being a researcher in Westminster can be fast paced, exciting and the remit very broad.Â The type of work will depend on the MPâ€™s interests, whether they are a minister, a back bencher, in office or in opposition.Â Whilst working as a researcher for a shadow minister Kate said she got plenty of opportunities to â€˜createâ€™ policy working with a couple of MPs and a couple of researchers to draft policy.
- Career progression is varied; many go on to work as policy analysts and special advisers.Â Public Affairs companies are very eager to recruit researchers with good Westminster contacts.Â Some go on to work for think tanks, the civil service or stand as MPs themselves.
- Kate got her job by contacting her MP.Â Speculative applications are the norm but both speakers emphasised how important it was to write personalised applications showing you have researched the MP and know their interests, what committees they are on, what they have recently achieved in their constituency etc . Party alignment is not usually essential, though that may depend on the MP and the nature of the role. Spelling and grammar are really important for the sifting process. Â Â The site w4mpÂ has vacancies.
- When talking about the skills and attributes sought across policy roles, Ruth stressed how important it is to be able to express yourself clearly and concisely both verbally and on paper.Â As a policy analyst it is essential to have the intellect and skills to robustly analyse and question policy.Â A postgraduate qualification may hone these skills but is not necesarily an essential entry requirement.Â
Many thanks to Fiona Richardson for this great post!
Political Risk and the London insurance market May 11, 2012Posted by Jeff Riley in : AON, Political risk, The Careers Group Blogs, london, politics , add a comment
“Political risk is a significant feature of the London insurance market, which is the world’s number one market for international insurance and reinsurance.” My interview with Caspar Bartington of the CII was going splendidly I thought. I was visiting Caspar because I’ve just started careers work with Queen Mary College, University of London and he has been there a couple of times for careers events
Why doesn’t political risk have a higher profile amongst students? There are a number of reasons. Insurance is a hidden gem – it has a perception problem that means it is misunderstood by most students. On top of that, sector employers don’t recruit in the same way as other financial companies. There aren’t, for example, as many structured placements and companies don’t attend that many careers fairs, although the CII does plenty of student sessions each year. People tend to hear about schemes and opportunities through personal and professional networks more than careers fairs and directories. Having said that, lots of students and graduates have found their way in to the profession and it is a competitive sector to break into.
So do all insurance companies have a political risk section? Many companies will have a political risk expert but only a few will have specialist teams. Aon is one such company, and indeed its graduate scheme allows some new entrants to spend six months in the kidnap and ransom division as well as other placements in more calm areas such as fine art! Aon also has a summer placement scheme so they are worth getting to know well.
Would students be at a disadvantage if they were too clearly focused on political risk as an option to the exclusion of considering other areas of the insurance business? Well I think an interest in, and knowledge of, political risk as a feature of insurance would be an excellent platform for any application. Frankly there is a low level of knowledge of the profession in general so any informed focus would be a good start. Having said that I think it would be in the students’ own interest to be open-minded about other areas of the insurance business. After all it is part of the same profession. Until they have got some practical experience it probably wouldn’t be wise to make final decisions. In any case the sector is pretty good at accommodating individual preferences so there is no need to panic about it.
One other point worth making is that the sector does recruit from a wide range of degree disciplines – the main focus when recruiting is the range of skills and aptitudes candidates can bring rather than just the subject studied.
What does political risk work in insurance involve? A real variety of things. On the one hand looking over historical data to generate a prognosis about future stability in a particular country. Emerging markets, for example, can provide growth opportunities for business but they are also more liable to be impacted by government action and supply chains are increasingly vulnerable. Issues such as unexpected nationalisation, physical damage from political violence, the cancellation of export/import licenses and default on contracts. We rely on political risk expertise to help us take these kinds of issues into account when offering insurance. They provide expertise in issues such as kidnapping and terrorism – and these days terrorist attacks are considered as a foreseeable risk. There are around 20,000 kidnappings a year and these also have to be factored in when companies are considering insurance. I know of one insurance professional who has to conduct negotiations with Somali pirates who had taken a ship that her company had insured. Of course these kinds of negotiations are carried out in conjunction with legal authorities but nevertheless insurance professionals can be involved in this kind of work.
What advice would you have for students interested in the sector? You won’t be surprised to hear that my top tip is to become a Discover member of the CII. It only costs £35 a year and will quickly help you get up to speed with the sector. Students should email email@example.com for full details. Membership gives free access to lots of events, such as the lunchtime lecture series hosted at Lloyds of London (who also have a graduate programme that includes a political risk element, incidentally). The most recent series of lectures included experts talking about topics like risk around the Olympics or the issues around deep sea oil exploration. These are great places to network as well.
Secondly, you should read the FT and The Economist – fairly obvious I suppose – but also the trade press such as the Insurance Times and Post.
Don’t forget you can read more on careers in political risk by searching this blog or use the search term political risk at careerstagged.co.uk
Download Aon’s latest Political Risk Map produced by Aon here
The Careers Group Blogs, international development, internships, politics, work abroad , add a comment
This blog is one of several produced by myself and colleagues who work for The Careers Group, University of London or one of the constituent colleges. A full list of them can be found here http://www.gradsintocareers.co.uk/advice-and-resources/blogs.aspx The Web and social media really helps us exchange information about the issues facing our readers. On the other hand it’s still really handy to be sharing an office so people don’t forget to pass on useful stuff. This explains why I’ve just posted up a terrific summer associate position in London or Bangkok – thanks to James Weaver at Queen Mary who passed it on to me. You can download the information from our Careerstagged.co.uk site http://www.careerstagged.co.uk//files/pdf/GSMA%20_GSMA%20MMU%20Summer%20Associate%20(policy%20and%20regulation)-1.pdf but here’s an outline of what’s on offer
GSMA the trade body for the mobile telecommunications industry has a summer associate position. Closing date May 10 2012. What is it doing featuring in a blog about development and international relations? Well mobile phones are hugely important in the developing world and the role amongst other things may involve writing country profiles. ” The candidate will work on such things as 1) research specific issues related to mobile money regulation; 2) To prepare country profile for the online mobile money regulatory database; 3)write mini case studies on a deployment and the relevant regulatory context…” So scoot on over to careerstagged for the download on how to apply (see above) and we’d love to hear how you get on.
Careers In Public Affairs December 14, 2011Posted by Jeff Riley in : The Careers Group Blogs, consulting, politics , add a comment
These notes were taken from a talk to War Studies students at King’s College, University of London
Weber Shandwick is one of the biggest Public Relations companies in the world and I head its political communications section. The public affairs industry is under some pressure right now because of the activities of Adam Werrity, the ‘lobbyist’ that attached himself to Liam Fox, the former defence secretary. What Werrity was doing was nothing to do with what public affairs professionals do.
“So what do we do? Well we work with declared clients. We help them in different ways. For some it might be providing a list of stakeholders that are impacted by an issue they are involved. We might suggest an event they could stage to achieve a specific end. Provide template for letters they might use to move an argument forward or outline a campaign they could stage. Clients usually come us very late in the day to help us easily achieve their aim.
“Or our work might be more straightforward lobbying. Our client, for example, might be a major software house who are concerned with proposed legislation and we would organise a meeting with relevant parties in the government. This is achieved through being able to point out shared interests rather than handing over cash in brown envelopes as the tabloids would occasionally have it.”
Getting jobs in public affairs
- “Like other agencies we do offer a graduate training programme (www.webershandwick.co.uk/company/careers) but, frankly, nothing beats a personal recommendation for getting started in the sector.
- Cold calling – my first job followed a cold call to the Conservative Party who happened to be kicking off a campaign they needed help with.
- Get a business card. Really, this is the abc of networking.
- Network. Go to meetings where you might meet with public affairs professionals and make sure you follow it up afterwards.
- Get work experience. Practical experience through paid internships (like ours at Weber Shandwyck) is ideal. The downside of the fact they are paid means there are a lot less than there used to be. There are unpaid ones still out there – see Bell Pottinger for example. There isn’t a central place where they are advertised so you will need to check individual firm’s websites. Of course there isn’t any guarantee but a good intern will undoubtedly generate some loyalty from their firm either in terms of work or referrals to other industry contacts. By the way don’t underestimate the value of indirect work experience as well. Even shelf stacking provides useful information about things like teamwork as well as your determination to do what you need to do to get to where you want to go as well as underlining your willingness to work and an arena to demonstrate leadership.
- Make as many applications as possible and, of course, avoid ‘cut and paste’ errors. You need to tailor your applications and following firms on Facebook or Twitter is a good way of doing this.”
What would be better as the next step? A media internship or more public affairs experience? “Neither, get some Westminster experience. The UK public affairs sector really values knowing how Westminster works. Other useful organisations to get involved with are those concerned with advocacy, charities and NGOs or experience in think tanks such as Demos or the Centre for Social Justice”
Who gets hired? “Well we recruit people with journalism experience, people with research backgrounds especially civil servants with backgrounds in defence or health and people who have worked for MPs. Sometimes we also hire ex MPs. ”
What does the work involve? “In addition to the things already outlined entrants should be aware that the work can involve long hours. Breakfast meetings and evening networking with MPs, for example.”
In House vs Consultancy. “Weber Shandwyck is a consultancy but lots of public affairs people work for clients. Contrary to what you might expect in-house work is paid at least the same and sometimes better that consultancy work. With the added bonus that you can boss consultants around when they get hired by your firm. In-house also has the advantage of better terms and conditions such as more generous maternity leave”
Any advice for Interns? “In brief – don’t get ill. You have little time to make an impression and taking time off because of illness should be avoided. Also be prepared to make the coffee – really. Everyone has done it.”
Is international experience valued? “Not really though languages can be useful. A good example are talented Americans often with extensive experience in Capitol Hill but for us its a question of who they know in the UK and whether they know how parliament works. Bigger consultancies may have more scope to use them.”