Account Executives at Westminster Advisers, Fiona Elliott and Leo Maxwell, reflect on their first couple of months in the public affairs industry:
If the last few weeks have been characterised by a number of firsts, this perhaps qualifies as the greatest first of all: the maiden blog post. Having spent two months at Westminster Advisers, the time had come. What would we be able to write with sufficient depth so as to match the expertise and knowledge evident in the posts of our colleagues? The question haunted us. Happily however, we’ve come to a resolution. If there’s one area we are experts in, it’s being the novitiate members of a public affairs consultancy. Here are some reflections on the journey so far:
Work-related networking events are not scary. In fact, they’re even fun! We sponsored a PubAffairs networking event in September, to which I went along. I now know, having chatted to people about topics as diverse as European fisheries policy and London housing developments, that such gatherings provide a golden opportunity to geek out and talk about politics to your heart’s content.
I did have certain perceptions about working in public affairs, and in my first month here I can safely say that these perceptions are definitely some way off – apologies to those in the office who have spent years carving steely, ruthless reputations. The WA team have (so far) been friendly, funny and unbelievably helpful. Obviously, the need to be on your toes and able to react to developments is critical (he said, having learned the hard way). However, from my own experiences, the best advice I can think of would be: always ask questions. Then once you’ve forgotten the helpful advice given to you, shamelessly ask again. It will get easier.
Perhaps the greatest test to date has been how to use the coffee contraption in the WA kitchen. These people need good coffee. Do not underfill the coffee. Also, If your brain feels a wee bit frazzled, be careful not to ask ‘does anyone want anything from the shop?’ too soon. The plethora of chocolate/low calorie drink combos and silver coins thrust your way will add further stress. Take a breather before being helpful.
Joking aside, the past few weeks have only convinced us further of our choice of career. It’s an exciting time to be entering the world of politics and public affairs; the demise of the two party system, regional rumblings for greater devolution and the European question all loom large. Bring it on, we say.