https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2017/09/01/work-experience-in-parliament/

Work experience in Parliament

People working in the Hansard office

We recently had some work experience students come to work with us in Parliament. Here's what they did during their time here and what they thought of Parliament and PDS.

Holly Green's week with content team

When browsing a website, you don't think about how anything got there. I never realised how much goes on behind the scenes. I learnt how to whittle down a confusing paragraph into a few sentences. This makes it accessible to anyone flicking through the website or blogs.

I spent a good part of my first day getting to grips with the main Parliament website. I had to see through the eyes of a curious reader to understand what would attract and keep attention. Never-ending paragraphs stuffed with jargon are not appealing. No-one wants to shift through useless details to find the hidden information they need. So, armed with the Hemingway, I worked to make text more accessible.

In school, teachers praise us for using complex sentences and subtle imagery. At PDS, I discovered that metaphors and complicated language aren't approved of. For example, it's more useful to refer to Big Ben as 'the Elizabeth Tower' rather than 'London's guardian angel'. Despite being poetic, it is of little use to people searching for tour times. My example is a little exaggerated but I did discover the importance of writing in plain English and I improved my ability to do so.

Another skill I gained was understanding user needs. I now know to think about what people might want from a piece of content, and how to adapt text to suit them.

I found my time working in PDS helpful and enlightening. I feel I know much more about working life walking out than I did walking in.

George Webb talked to technology teams at PDS

I talked to Matt Rayner, who looks after the Parliament website, about coding and how to code so that I can create my own website. He also explained what happened during the recent cyber attack on Parliament and how important it is to have a secure password.

I also spoke to Mark Baptist, who specialises in programming. Mark taught me how to use Excel and I made a spreadsheet for a business idea I have. This was really helpful as I'm studying for a GCSE in business. In the future Excel will be a very useful tool for me, so it was good to know how to get the most out of it.

Overall, I had a great experience. I've met many different people, I've seen jobs which I may possibly do in the future, and I've got to grips with what the world of work is like. I'd like thank everyone that I spoke to during my time here.

Alexa Rendell spent two weeks with people from all over Parliament

I spent my first week with staff from the International Development Committee. These are the people who help the group of MPs that make up the committee and I jumped right into it. Within 20 minutes of meeting the Clerk who I would be shadowing for the week, I sat down for my first meeting and was introduced to Stephen Twigg MP. Mr Twigg is an essential member of the committee and would be continuing as its chairperson. He was very friendly and personable, completely breaking my idea of what MPs are like. There were 14 people in the meeting, the first sign that Parliament was a lot bigger than I had initially thought.

I moved on to Hansard and was introduced to various aspects of their work including how they report on what is said in the chambers. We finished the day by going to watch a debate in the Commons chamber and I also got to see PMQs which was a very engaging experience.

The most valuable thing I learned during my time at Parliament is that it's important to ask questions. Parliament can be a complicated place and if you don't understand something, take the chance to ask someone. Security officers and door keepers are particularly good people to ask, they know the palace and surrounding area inside out.

Interested in working at PDS? Find out more about working here

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