The life of a public affairs intern
By Annabelle Black - August 2021
As an intern at GK Strategy I learnt a variety of skills and gained invaluable experience in the world of public affairs. GK Strategy is a strategic research and communications agency, their goal is for investors to better understand political, policy and regulatory risk. During my time with them I supported them in their research and communications advisory work through a wide range of tasks.
I have always had an interest in politics, policy and public affairs but felt that careers in these fields are largely overlooked in schools. Whilst schools focus on giving students work experience in mainstream fields like medicine, STEM or law etc, I never found that experience and careers in politics or public affairs were offered or adequately discussed. It wasn’t until I became an ambassador for I Have A Voice that I actually understood what a career in politics could look like. Then, not until I became an intern did I experience it. Completing the internship was eye-opening in a lot of ways; being able to see what a day working in public affairs actually looked like and the range of policy areas they cover cemented my belief that this could be the career route for me.
Tasks ranged from stakeholder mapping, political monitoring and attending think tank policy events. These tasks contributed to my understanding of public affairs in a multitude of ways. More specifically, undertaking stakeholder mapping meant informing engagement strategy for the coming months across a wide range of policy areas, this gave me insight into current affairs and how best to network relevant people online. Being able to analyse stakeholders for a project and identify their relevant positions is a valuable skill but one not taught until you’re directly in the workplace. In addition, stakeholder analysis is used in a variety of jobs, which is why internships such as this are increasingly important to prepare young people for the world of work.
Both political monitoring for internal and external use as well as attending think tank policy events kept me up to date on current affairs whilst also extending my knowledge on websites like Hansard, Dehavilland and the House of Commons written questions and answers. Activities like this provide transferable skills in research, media and written communication. Going forward with my career academically and non academically, I will use these skills in everyday life, and as I progress I can only imagine that they will become increasingly more important. Offering young people internships opens doors early on, to provide them with experiences vital to their career and equip them with the right resources to make the best decisions on their next steps and choosing a field of work.
Companies like GK Strategy, that offer internships to young people, not only give them the opportunity to grasp what it is like to work professionally with others in an office setting, but also gain something themself. They get to train the upcoming workforce in their field, preparing the next generation to be the best at what they do. By integrating textbook knowledge and theory into practical skills, internships have become increasingly important in networking and raising the standards of professionalism. In addition, companies that attract good pools of young people will gain fresh perspectives on their businesses, enhance social strategy and in doing so highlight any possible candidates for when the next position becomes available.
After completing the month-long internship with the public affairs office, I felt so much more prepared for what the future could hold. A degree in politics can only offer you so much, it cannot however provide you with practical experience in the world of work, but now I feel comfortable that I can hit the ground running in a career in government affairs.