Policy work and PPLS students – in case you missed the event…


Last week we  ran a Policy Work event for SPS and PPLS students, as students from both these schools go on to careers in this area of work. Scheduled speakers, all Edinburgh alumni, were:

  • Nigel Anthony: Policy Briefing and Engagement Officer at the Labour Party , MA Politics 2012
  • Chris Connolly: Digital Engagement Manager at the Scottish Government, Masters in Public Policy, 2014; year abroad at Edinburgh as part of US Philosophy degree
  • Alyssa Newman: Funding Policy Officer at the Scottish Funding Council, Masters in Public Policy, 2013; year abroad at Edinburgh as part of US Political Science degree
  • Gillian Simpson: Policy Executive at the British Medical Association, BSc Biological Sciences, 2007
  • Alice Workman : Policy Analyst at Department of International Development, MSc International Development, 2013

All speakers gave a brief overview of their career history to date, and their current position, plus advice for getting into this area, followed by a lively Q&A, and networking over soft refreshments. Their LinkedIn profiles give useful background on their route to their current positions – check them out for more information.

Top Tips for getting into policy work from panel were:

  • Speak to a range of organisations working in this area and work out where you fit best.
  • keep up to date with current affairs
  • use social media to follow relevant people and organisations
  • be politically aware, both generally, and specifically for your particular area of work
  • build up your networks, use information interviews to find out more about the area
  • reflect on the skills you have developed from all your life experience, not just work, and what your particular strengths are, and how this relates to policy work
  • be pro-active in seeking out experience, go beyond the ordinary to make yourself stand out (eg – one panel member had taught English in Moscow, worked with Fresh Sight, volunteered etc)
  • keep a record of your experience as you go (eg use google docs), and reflect on what you gain from this – it will be invaluable when writing applications and preparing for interviews
  • Do something! You will develop!
  • Have a (clean) online presence – you will be expected to be on Twitter, LinkedIn etc, and employer will look you up. Blogging is useful to demonstrate interests and communication skills.
  • Post grad in policy is not essential, but can be very useful, especially if there is a placement element. If you don’t have a post grad in this area, be very aware of your skill set, and how it relates to policy work, and sell your skills

Check out all our resources on working in Policy via the Careers Service website.

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