|Public Affairs Lead
|Institute of Export & International Trade
|Advertising, marketing and PR
|Medium-size business (50-249 employees)
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A day in the life of a Public Affairs Lead in the United Kingdom
Don't go for a job which might look impressive on paper but which you wouldn't be happy at. You're going to spend a lot of time at work and it's important that you are largely happy with what you're doing each day.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work for an international trade membership body, called the Institute of Export & International Trade.
What do you do?
I head up the public affairs function at the Institute, acting as an interlocuter between the Institute's membership and the government/wider political stakeholders.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I've loved politics since I was a teenager (hence I chose it for my degree!) so I went to do an internship with an MP after leaving York and then worked for two further MPs before going into public affairs work with a consulting company called Edelman. After a while, I wanted to continue public affairs work but 'in house', and a job cropped up with the Institute which fitted nicely with this ambition.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
Yes, I didn't imagine I would one day be lobbying politicians rather than working for them directly.
Describe your most memorable day at work
I think one of my most memorable days at my current job was securing a Secretary of State to speak at one of our events. We're a relatively small Institute and I had to do a lot of work to demonstrate why our event would be well worthwhile them attending. I think this stays in my mind because it shows that you should always aim high, even if an outcome looks unlikely - you never know unless you ask!
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
Public affairs work can sometimes be slow in terms of effecting actual policy change - there are often many meetings and obstacles before change can be progressed. But I like to flip around this around and see the positive because the relationship building done during these long processes is really valuable in and of itself.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
I think being part of York Student Think Tank bolstered some of my policy skills and mindset towards gathering data and insights.
What would you like to do next with your career?
I'm not sure at the moment but I know I'm very interested in working for charities in the future, potentially in the field of international development. Global poverty is an area I feel strongly about.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Get as much careers advice as you can and learn your own strengths and weaknesses really well! The better you know yourself, the better you can tailor your strengths to different jobs and situations. I'd also recommend speaking to recruitment consultants and agencies - I got my latest post through the support of a recruitment consultant.
But, most of all, don't go for a job which might look impressive on paper but which you wouldn't be happy at. You're going to spend a lot of time at work and it's important that you are largely happy with what you're doing each day.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
I'm happy to answer most things - general career advice, advice on political work, advice on the transition from university to working life, etc.
If you like the look of Grace’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Grace a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Grace to be your mentor.