From Liverpool to Westminster – How My University Experience Helped Me Find My Career
Posted on: 22 June 2023 by Lily McCrea in 2023 posts
In September 2018, I began my first year at the University of Liverpool. I had no idea then that after five years, including a global pandemic, a year studying abroad, and a semester-long internship, I would end up starting my career as a Parliamentary Assistant.
Studying a language is great, because it allows you to learn not only how to understand and use the language itself, but also about a whole other culture. Whether you’re interested in literature, film, history, etc., when you’re studying a language, you can really delve into your other interests from an international perspective. For me, that other interest was in politics.
Studying German, I was able to take so many modules which nurtured both my interest in Germany, and in politics, whether that’s political history (I took a great module about the GDR in my second year), the German political system, or wider social attitudes in Germany. By having that freedom to learn about politics in the context of Germany, I got to foster my love of politics, whilst improving my understanding of Germany, its history and contemporary society.
One of the main highlights of a languages degree is, of course, the year abroad. I chose to spend my year abroad studying at the University of Bonn. My year in Bonn was probably one of the best years of my life yet. After having to delay it a year (during the COVID pandemic wasn’t exactly a great time to move abroad!), when I finally got abroad, it was absolutely incredible. As the former capital of West Germany, Bonn was steeped in political history, and so I spent many an afternoon walking around the town and visiting the museums. If you ever get a chance to visit (and I recommend you do!), head across to the Haus der Geschichte – It’s free to go visit and it’s an awesome museum about post-1945 Germany.
In my final year, I spent my second semester doing the Parliamentary Placement Scheme (an internship run by the UoL Politics Dept.). When I first applied, I was told that because I had a minor subject outside of politics, I may not be able to take part in it. Luckily, the German department were really supportive of me going, and let me follow the course remotely. I managed to follow along with the course on Canvas and took part in my German classes on Zoom. Studying a language, and the cultural knowledge that you learn as part of any language course, gave me an insight on politics that not many other people have. As well as that, having a language on my CV really helped my application stand out when I was applying to post-uni jobs.
My current role is ‘Parliamentary Assistant’ to Neil Coyle MP. Whilst I obviously don’t walk around the office speaking German to people, being able to speak another language has already been useful in my role (and I only started two weeks ago!). For example, there are a reasonable number of German speakers in Neil’s constituency, so being able to speak German means that I can help them get the help they need.
Languages really do open doors; whatever it is you want to go into. I am so excited to start my career in Parliament, and I know that my knowledge of the German culture, politics, and language are going to play a significant part in that career.