"I found my Professional Training Year an incredibly valuable experience, and it was certainly rewarding to be able to use what I’ve learnt during my time at Surrey in my job."
I spent 10 months working at the House of Commons for three select committees. Select committees are made up of backbench MPs, and their job is to scrutinise the work of a particular government department or policy area. I worked for the Scottish Affairs, Welsh Affairs and Northern Ireland Affairs Committees.
I was employed as a researcher, which meant I was directly involved in preparing material for oral evidence sessions and committee reports.
The work was quite challenging at first, but with the help of my manager and other colleagues, I got to grips with the work of the committees and, importantly, learnt how to write impartially. One of the first pieces of work that I completed was organising an oral evidence session for the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Australia and New Zealand free trade agreements (FTAs). The Committee scrutinised how the FTAs would interact with the Northern Ireland Protocol, and what the potential impact on Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry would be.
Select committees run inquiries and then write reports consisting of conclusions and recommendations that the UK Government is expected to respond to. I was the inquiry lead for the Scottish Affairs Committee’s inquiry into access to cash in Scotland. This looked at the volume of bank branch and ATM closures across Scotland, and how policy can ensure consumers who rely on cash continue to be able to access it for as long as they need. I organised three oral evidence sessions, prepared impartial briefing material, drafted a public survey and drafted the Committee report that was published in my final week.
This was quite a long piece of work, so I was really pleased to be able to see it through to the end and gain a really good understanding of the work of select committees to produce policy recommendations. It was also a positive achievement for me to see media, such as the BBC and The Times, pick up the content of the report.
Overall, I found my Professional Training Year an incredibly valuable experience, and it was certainly rewarding to be able to use what I’ve learnt during my time at Surrey in my job. A Professional Training Year is a fantastic opportunity to gain relevant work experience before graduating, and I would strongly recommend that any undergraduate currently considering one applies!