Rachel W.

Senior Parliamentary Advisor
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Rachel W.
United Kingdom

My employment

Senior Parliamentary Advisor
United Kingdom
Charity and voluntary sector
Large business (250+ employees)

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A day in the life of a Senior Parliamentary Advisor in the United Kingdom

The aim of my job is to make sure that the laws passed and enforced are the best that they can be for animal welfare.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

The world's oldest animal welfare charity.

What do you do?

The aim of my job is to make sure that the laws passed and enforced are the best that they can be for animal welfare. In order to do this we have to have a great relationship with all of those passing and enforcing the law, to make sure that our expert, science-based advice is listened to.
My job is to manage the relationship between the RSPCA and all of our political stakeholders in England. This includes MPs, Peers and civil servants at Westminster as well as local government (local councillors, council staff, elected Mayors, the London Assembly etc) and other enforcement agencies like the police.
Excellent communications skills are key - you have to be good at diluting complicated messaging into understandable and memorable chunks which will be memorable in emails, calls, Zooms, face to face meetings and short, punchy briefings. You also need to know how politics works and who the key players are in any given policy area, because that will inform your strategy when it comes to communicating your message.
Events, including receptions and panel discussions, are really important too, and my job encompasses all of our team's event management. The work here is really varied at the run up to an event can include all sorts of things. Sourcing hundreds of tiny bespoke printed t shirts to dress soft toy zebras was a highlight!
And of course there's also a lot of admin, including a budget to manage, agencies to oversee and a regular programme of political updates and training for colleagues across the orgnisation.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

Whilst completing my MA dissertation (also at York) I started volunteering for one of the candidates in the forthcoming general election. This led to an internship and, ultimately, a job offer. I then worked in party politics for four years. This type of experience is often something looked for in political jobs in the charity sector and so it proved for me. I've worked my way through the public affairs team at the RSPCA (first in the campaigns team and now in political) over the past seven years.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

I always thought I'd work in one of the not for profit sectors.

Describe your most memorable day at work

The day when the Wild Animals in Circuses Act (2019) was finally given Royal Assent. The RSPCA had been campaigning on this issue for a century and to see it finally happen - and be the person who got to lead the work that finally got it over the line - was incredible. So much work had gone into this campaign over the years that the actual moment (it was just read out in Parliament as one of the Bills that had become an Act that day) was an anticlimax, but finally being able to cross it off the department's 'legislative change asks' lists was a joy. Big wins like this don't come around very often in our policy area, but the thought of them are still what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

Working in politics is always a challenge, but never more so than in the Brexit era. The uncertainty, polarisation and just the sheer amounts of time and energy the debate has taken up over the past few years is difficult to overstate. The charity sector has its own challenges too, budgets being the most obvious and the biggest.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

The political experience I got through involvement with the campus political society I joined has been absolutely crucial to my career. It helped me get that first internship and jobs that have seen me on my way ever since.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Be prepared to be flexible and don't have too many set ideas about exactly what sector you want to go into. Get as much experience in communications as you can - anything can count here, any part time job, society roles, volunteering etc. Reach out to people working in jobs you think are interesting and see what their career path was (because it probably isn't what you think).

Next steps...

If you like the look of Rachel’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Rachel a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Rachel to be your mentor.

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