What it’s like to be… a Policy Advisor

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This week is something a little different – and, I have to admit, something I didn’t know existed. The wonderful thing about this series is that I’m learning so much about so many jobs I didn’t know people did – as well as learning a lot more about my friends!

Let’s get going!

What is your job title?
Policy Advisor (basically Public Affairs)

What does that actually involve? What do you spend most of your workday doing?

Writing policy and political briefings, research, speech writing, responding to government consultations, meeting politicians and partners. Because we’re a small members organisation /charity I also get involved in communications work: blogging, press work, Managing our social media, drafting strategies etc.

Did you always want to do this as a job? If not, why did you come to do it?

No. I thought I wanted to be a journalist – And I still enjoy writing and researching but I basically worked out I would need to work for free in London and I couldn’t afford to do that. I wanted to do something political that involved writing and using my other Comms skills and I kind of fell into this. I work for the fire service (or at least a professional body for the fire service) and had never thought there would be this sort of job in that sector!

How did you get to do your job? For example, did you train? Do internships? Did you take exams? What did you have to study at school/uni to do your job?

I took a degree in politics, which is useful in terms of background knowledge but you are always learning. Enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, generic research skill, decent writing skills and the gift of the gab are probably what has gotten me this far. Oh, and blind luck. I’m now a member of the chartered Institute of Public Relations (cipr) and have done a professional post grad qualification with them, which was useful. As part of what I do involves lobbying, I also have to sign up to their professional code of conduct and am registered on their database.

If you wanted to, where could you move to from this job? What could you progress to?

My next step will be to expand my horizons by moving away from the fire service sector. Probably a lateral move. Long term I’d like to work either in politics (but not as a politician) or the charitable sector doing campaigns.

Being honest, what’s the worst part of your job? What’s the best?

Worst part is the knowledge that sometimes despite trying very hard to have an impact and to make things work better in policy terms, we have no influence or impact at all. Best part is when you do – either something or someone changes and you succeed in your goal, be that helping to change a law or starting a new partnership.

How is the work/life balance? Do you often have to do overtime?

It varies, but I can’t complain. There are busy periods and quieter times, I’m lucky to have flexible working hours. Things can change last minute but that’s part of the fun.

How would you describe the kind of people who are in the same field as you? Are they a good bunch to work alongside?

I work with a huge range of people. Within the office in in, the people are great. More widely, there are always egos to deal with, and people within PR /PA can be bullshitters of the highest order, but I think my field on the whole gets a bad rep it doesn’t deserve.

On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate the salary and benefits that come from your job? (1 being the worst and 10 being amazing)

  1. I’m pretty well paid I think, but then I work in the Midlands. I couldn’t afford to live well on this money in London, where many of these sorts of jobs are.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Look everywhere for pr jobs, you might be surprised where you find them. Show huge amounts of enthusiasm, but also get to know your subject area. I think it helps to be nerdy about your given subject.

What it’s Like to be… a Fire Engineer

Fire Girl

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This week we have my friend who is a fire engineer. It may sound like quite a baffling field to be in, but I think her comments about being a female engineer is something a lot of us girls can relate to. I completely support her comment of reporting bad things that are said – a little goes a long way with these kinds of things.

Although these posts have been really very popular, it would be great if we had some questions for my careers people! If you would like to ask any questions, please let me know! [Read more…]

What it’s like to be… a Managing Director

Businessman Crossing the Finish Line --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Businessman Crossing the Finish Line — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I’m really glad that last week’s career post about being an SEO strategy lead was so popular! I got so much great feedback from it – so I’m really chuffed. A few more people came and asked if they could also answer the questions, and I’ll get the document out to people this week for that.

Today I have someone completely different. It’s interesting because I know all of these people pretty well (I have known both last week’s and this week’s for over 10 years) and it’s really interesting to know exactly what they do.

Without further ado, let’s get to the questions!

[Read more…]

What it’s Like to be… an SEO Strategy Lead

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about what I want to be when I grow up* and I realised I really enjoyed making my How To Get A Job series last year – and that recruitment is a pretty interesting subject.

With this in mind, I wanted to go a little further down this rabbit hole and look into the different areas of work people can go into. I had a fairly rural upbringing and when I was a kid, everyone’s parents were very basic jobs – teachers, secretaries, police officers etc. I look at my friends now and realise that I have so many people doing really amazing things, so I decided to question them! [Read more…]

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