David K.

Education and Engagement Programme Support Officer
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

David K.
United Kingdom

My employment

Education and Engagement Programme Support Officer
UK Parliament
United Kingdom
Large business (250+ employees)

More about David

Has a disability

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A day in the life of a Education and Engagement Programme Support Officer in the United Kingdom

As an employee you also get access to all the amazing perks of having the Palace of Westminster be your office...

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

I work for UK Parliament, an institution dedicated to checking and challenging the work of Government, making and shaping effective laws, and debating the big issues of the day.

I am a bicameral member of staff, meaning that my work spans across both chambers- the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

What do you do?

I am the Programme Support Officer for the ‘Learn with the Lords’ programme, which directly connects school groups with members of the House of Lords through Q&A sessions, held both online and in-person. These sessions foster a greater understanding of the vital role the House of Lords plays in our democracy among the younger generation.

I am responsible for organising, managing and facilitating the in-school sessions; though I also deliver the online Q&As on a weekly basis. My day-to-day role involves a lot of correspondence with schools and members, curating spreadsheets, and strategic planning for our other events, such as the International Women’s Day Question Time panel.

My team sits within the larger Education and Engagement department, which is dedicated to connecting the public with the work of Parliament in a variety of ways.

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

History has always been my academic passion, and during my time at York I refined my interest to Public History as I found its mission to translate the complex themes of the academic discipline into accessible and engaging formats fit for public consumption really struck a chord.

This led me to undertake a Masters in Public History and Cultural Heritage. As part of the course I completed an internship at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, where I created a short educational video to shed light on the history of one of the cathedral’s chapels. This experience affirmed my desire to pursue a career in education and engagement within an historic institution.

I am also very in tune with politics and current affairs, so the opportunity to work within the heart of the UK’s political structure blends my career goals with my personal interests.

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

100%. But that’s not saying much because I didn’t have a clue what career I wanted to pursue when I graduated! I definitely had a sense of what careers I didn’t want to end up in, which I think is just as valuable.

Describe your most memorable day at work

I recently led a morning of Learn with the Lords sessions with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is a personal inspiration of mine. She is an 11-time Paralympic-gold-medal-winning athlete who also has Spina Bifida. Growing up, she was a role model of what someone with my condition can achieve, and a vital force of positive representation. Her work campaigning for disability rights is incredible, and I cannot quite believe that I not only got to meet her, but that I get to continue working with her.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

Absolutely. A large part of my role involves event organisation, which inevitably brings about challenges when things don’t go as initially planned. It can often involve last minute changes that require you to think on your feet to find suitable resolutions. There is also the added pressure of working with members of the House of Lords and the stakeholder management it demands to see that their time is well spent and that both the Peer and the students find the programme enriching.

On top of this, with sessions being facilitated online there is always the threat of technological issues despite our robust efforts to mitigate these as much as possible. My job requires the confidence to command an audience and put them at ease when things go off course.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

Working within the Education and Engagement department at UK Parliament is a supportive, collaborative, and inclusive environment that encourages professional curiosity and personal growth. There are Workplace Equality Networks (WENs) that provide a forum for the empowerment of all voices within the organisation such as the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities, women, BAME employees, staff from working-class backgrounds, and people with caring responsibilities. They also host informal social events that provide great opportunities to meet new people in parliament.

As an employee you also get access to all the amazing perks of having the Palace of Westminster be your office. In my first two months here I have shadowed tours of the Parliamentary Estate, attended PMQs, and gone on a staff tour of the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben). On top of this, managers are supportive of and attuned to your career goals, scheduling regular catch-up meetings to motivate you to pursue your professional ambitions within Parliament.

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

Throughout my time at York I was a member of various societies, including the History Society, YUSnow, Nouse, and in my final year I was the Equal Access Officer for the York chapter of STAR (Student Action for Refugees). These societies were fundamental in bringing me out of my shell and allowed me to meet a range of people with similar interests. I also developed the desirable transferable skills of captivating writing and working towards tight deadlines. My time on the committee of STAR enabled me to liaise with stakeholders across the university and challenged me to generate fundraising activities during the many Covid lockdowns.

What would you like to do next with your career?

I’m very happy in my current position, but I’m open to exploring the opportunities that present themselves in Parliament. I think I would like to progress within the realms of education, engagement, and participation in the long term.

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

Find an industry/industries you’re curious about and apply for as many jobs as you can within them- it’s merciless applying for jobs towards the end of your studies. I applied for at least 70 jobs in the few months I was actively looking for one. Half won’t even reply to your application. It’s SO annoying but it’s not personal, just one of those things.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Happy to answer anything related to working in Parliament, postgraduate study (especially in Trinity College Dublin), moving to Dublin/London, and my experience of having a hidden disability in the workplace.

Next steps...

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