From Stowmarket to Westminster
Over the past fortnight, I have been very kindly welcomed into the PLMR team for my work experience. Aged 15, I currently attend Stowmarket High School located in the small town of Stowmarket in Suffolk.
When work experience was first mentioned at the start of this academic year, a clear divide was formed in the whole of my year group, due to the large range of varied opinions and feelings. One feeling was fear; having to leave behind the, sometimes overlooked, care of school so one can enter the world of full responsibility was very daunting to many, if not all of us.
Another feeling was disappointment as some imagined work experience to be somewhat of an anti-climax, with them only expecting it to entail of two weeks working behind the till in the chip shop down the road (not that there is anything wrong with that by the way in my view).
For me, and most, the feeling of excitement cleared away the worry. For the last week before we were dispatched, the topic dominated conversation, with everybody asking each other about where they had been placed, how they were feeling, etc. I proudly, but never arrogantly of course, stated that I would be traveling to London to work at PLMR, a Political Lobbying and Media Relations company. They were surprised as they knew that traveling to and from London each day would cost a fortune, to which I explained that I would be staying with relatives for the week as opposed to having to take the train each day. I don’t have that kind of money.
On my first day of work, I’ll admit, I was nervous. Questions rushed through my head: ‘What if I’m asked to do something that I can’t handle?’, ‘What if I make a horrible mistake’, ‘What if I end up collapsing Parliament?’. Perhaps the last one was a slight overreaction, but I was assured that I would only be given tasks that I could handle.
I entered the building and was shown to my computer. I was introduced to my team, Team Orange, and I was amazed at how friendly and supportive everybody was. I was assigned to my supervisor, Leon Emirali, who gave me some simple, yet exciting tasks, which included phoning care homes and local newspapers. I’m sure for a lot of my school friends, phoning people could be hell. Shyness could often overwhelm us and I myself can sometimes find myself frozen, having no idea what to say on the phone. But I had very kindly been given a script so as soon as they answered, I felt relaxed, despite having to ring back many times because homes were focussing on the care of elderly and vulnerable people and unable to focus on us poor relations in the press office.
As soon as those tasks were over, I was given some more, and I felt more relaxed doing them. Slowly, I was getting more and more used to the work that was given to me. All until I was thrown in at the deep end by having to go to a Committee Room in the Houses of Parliament and record the proceedings of a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Horse. I noted down all that I could, although the hardest point was pretending to know what I was talking about whenever an APPG member spoke to me. The next day, I returned to Parliament to view Prime Minister’s Question Time. After this, I started to understand and love the enjoyable spontaneity of the fortnight and felt ready for anything it could throw at me whether meeting MPs, national journalists or entrepreneurs.
It hardly felt like a couple of days had passed before I realised that it was coming to the end of my time here, although looking back I realise all the great opportunities I had been given to discover more about politics, media (which included an amazing tour of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House today) and PR, which of course could not have been done without the amazingly kind and helpful team at PLMR. They have made my time here incredibly enjoyable and for that I am extremely grateful. That and not being sent to buy any tartan paint.
George Howarth is pictured visiting the BBC’s New Broadcasting House, 23rd May, 2013. PLMR provides mentored work experience to four candidates under 18 every year for a duration of one or two weeks depending on capacity levels of supervisory staff