Representing the House of Commons was alumnus Narinder Pooni who is currently a Senior Parliamentary Researcher for MP Neil O’Brien and formerly an assistant to Alberto Costa.
Narinder, an Economics, Business and Finance graduate (2007), found his way into politics after leaving Loughborough, and enjoys the fast-pace of his career:
“If you enjoy unpredictability, then Parliament could be for you – it’s not always a 9-5 job.”
Academic Practice Adviser at Loughborough University, Samantha Chester, studied Politics with English at university until 2013 but encouraged students to think more broadly about their career options, saying
“you don’t have to go into politics, and you shouldn’t feel pressured into graduate schemes”.
Professor of Parliamentary Government at Sheffield University and Political Advisor to the House of Commons, alumnus Matthew Flinders, who studied Modern European Studies (1994). He spends two days a week working in Parliament and he encouraged students to consider further study and to look at learning a language. He also said:
“You must learn from failure – it’s all about resilience and how quickly you can bounce back.”
He discussed his varied experience in academia and Parliament and told students that once you are in the political system, you will be able to navigate around different roles.
Finally, representing the charity sector was Emma Reece, a Government Relations Manager for Unicef who studied Politics with French and Economics at Loughborough, graduating in 2013.
Emma began to gain experience in politics during her time as a student, when she work-shadowed a local MP. She said:
“Don’t underestimate how much an MP may need a little bit of help – make yourself useful and be persistent.”
She shared insights into volunteering for local charities, where to find work experience and how to make those steps to the next level and told students “even if you choose one path, you can change direction if you want to”.
The panellists encouraged students to really consider the roles that they are applying for and focus on quality over quantity. They discussed resilience, learning from mistakes, taking placement opportunities and networking to find a new role.
Thank you to everyone who volunteered their time to inspire students.