So in my absence I’ve been busy getting political alongside my research. As part of my interest into scientific policy and how evidence feeds in to the gears of legislature I applied for a Policy Internship funded by my research council BBSRC (more info here). This was an excellent opportunity to be involved in the process of how research makes its way to politicians and finally into new legislation and regulations.
I had an interview back in October 2013, a pretty intense day with 2 panels of 8 members representing the various host organisations but a really enjoyable experience. I heard a few months alter that I got a position working for the Welsh assembly on the Environment & Sustainability committee research team.
The excellent thing about the BBSRC support is that they covered the cost of relocation for the 3 month period and have extended my stipend. This effectively put my PhD on pause for three months, a welcome break from research at the time.
I started in Sept 2015 working for three months on policy reserach. A typical week during this time consisted of Committee hearings, First Ministers questions and work in the office.
When i was in the office I was working on a mixture of research paper updates, ensuring that the most up to date data was available, new research updates and a longer policy briefing document. I also worked on individual queries form Welsh assembly members in order to give them data to inform their debates in the chamber or constituency issues.
Working for the E&S Committee was fascinating as it met weekly so every week a new issue was being discussed and I was able to sit in on the committee sessions, it was great to see how the different politicians approached such a wide variety of issues and how much personality still played a role at this level.
In Wales the comities are a crucial element of government scrutiny, there are 11 committees which deal with the majority of legislative criticism and are the workhorse of the welsh assembly. It was great to work so closely with the committees and be in meetings where agendas were set and decisions on stakeholder engagement were taken.
Along with getting great political experience, I found having to write for three months really good, as a scientist my writing had adapted to such a point I hadn’t realised how inaccessible it probably was. This internship gave me a great opportunity and plenty of practise at rephrasing my work for a different audience, something for which i was grateful. Whilst I was working with the E&S team everyone was really friendly and supportive too which made everything so much easier when doing such different work in a new city.
If anyone is thinking of applying for these internships I’d really recommend it. I have friends that did the internship in Westminster too who equally extol the virtues of the experience so would say go for it. A list of the articles I contributed towards can be found below and feel free to get in touch with any queries: