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Robert's Placement Story

Airbus Placement Year

Name:
 Robert Bishop

Course: BSc Politics with International Relations
Placement role: Public Affairs Assistant
Company: Airbus Group

My role was to support the Public Affairs team at Airbus Group, based in central London. This team exists to lobby the Government and other public sector organisations in order to protect and advance the company’s interests. In order to do this, I was responsible for tracking parliamentary activity, carrying out research on government policy, writing short biographies on policymakers, writing a weekly report on political activity for senior management and attending events, such as committee sessions in the Parliament.
I would begin a typical day by digesting the morning’s developments in the news and planning what tasks I would like to have finished by the end of the day. I would also receive instructions from my line manager, giving me new tasks or asking me to attend a meeting outside the office. For example, I might be required to attend a committee session in Parliament or attend a meeting at the aerospace and defence trade organisation, and report back on any developments. Towards the end of every week; I spent my time writing and seeking approval for the weekly ‘London Calling’ report, which outlines political activity for senior management across Europe.
As well as the regular tasks above, there were also a number of ‘one-off’ experiences, including attending a political party conference and organising a New Year reception for parliamentarians. I also coordinated the production of a new industrial strategy document for aerospace in the UK. To complete this last task I was seconded to the Aerospace Growth Partnership, culminating in the launch of the new industrial strategy at the Farnborough Air Show.
First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is very important towards the start of your year, when it shows a willingness to learn. Later on you will be preoccupied by regular tasks and might miss the opportunity to ask what might be seen as stupid questions. Secondly, plan at the beginning of your year what you want out of it. Towards the middle of the year I realised that I had not planned adequately, and rushed to ‘tick off’ as many new experiences as I could!
While familiarity with the way politics work at a theoretical level is necessary, there is no substitute for real experience of the interaction between political institutions. My ‘case study’ of the relationship between the aerospace industry and Government has showed me how any industry or interest group would seek to influence policymaking, meaning the knowledge and skills I gained are highly transferable. It has also made me aware of the different job roles on offer, both with regard to the lobbyists and the ‘lobbied’, such as in Parliament or government departments.
  • Ask questions – the quicker you find stuff out the earlier you’ll be confident in your role
  • Make a plan – make sure you know at the beginning of your year what you want out of it
  • Keep talking to your manager – the best working relationships are based on good, frequent communication
  • Familiarise yourself with your routine – make sure you’re on time, you know who to report to and where the nearest Pret is
  • Keep a diary – your assessment will probably involve recalling events way back at the start of your year

 

  • Go in on time and leave on time – save staying late in the office for later in your working life
  • Find a hobby that you can focus on – I started playing cricket again, having last played at school!
  • Keep talking to your manager – as above, and make sure they know how your workload is
  • Know your deadlines – list the dates that your university assessments are due in so they don’t jump up on you
  • Set time aside for family and friends – recharge by visiting them or having them visit you

 

The best thing about my Placement Year was living and working in London. Professionally, it meant working with and going inside the political institutions I’ve studied and want to work for in the future such as, Parliament and government departments. However, what is probably more important is that on a personal level it allowed me to meet new people while living in a great city. I am really looking forward to going back to London after graduation! 

My placement year has both accelerated my professional development and made me into more of a well-rounded person in general. I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to take a placement year to do so!