Very often, people start their career on work experience. MA student Catherine Howe gives this perspective of her time spent with Liverpool City Council where she had an insight into local government communications.
My work placement with Liverpool City Council has been such a positive experience.
As a political science MA student, I think that local democracy should be accessible to young people who are keen to get involved in the politics of where they live. I’ve been really impressed that LCC has taken me on and given me a full, unedited look into the kind of work that the council is involved in.
This is my fourth year living in Liverpool now, and I’ve found it so exciting to be able to work with the authority that has made this city my favourite one in the UK. Not only has this been a great first adventure into the public sector, and I also feel like my general employability has grown too. I’ve come away from my placement feeling very inspired to follow a career in local government.
What councils face
Working for the council has shown me an array of challenges that local government faces during these strange times; indeed, I started here only two days before the budget proposals were announced, during a cost-of-living crisis, after a global pandemic…
Most importantly, however, I’ve taken away a new appreciation for the power of local democracy. Through working with the Comms team, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting council employees from all different services, as well as councillors from all sides of the political spectrum. I’ve witnessed some fiery debates at the Town Hall, and learnt that despite party divisions, each councillor shares an unfaltering commitment to their constituents.
Working in internal comms has been an entirely new experience for me too, and it’s opened up the opportunity to peak in at the vital work staff groups do for the council. I’ve really enjoyed engaging with the faith and disability staff networks to help raise the profile of Disability History Month and advertise the opening of the new prayer room.
I love writing, which is lucky because I can barely count to ten (seriously). Working in external comms has been a great test of my impartial writing skills. No matter your personal opinion on a particular set of policies or initiatives, your job is to communicate messages to the public in a clear, fair and accurate way. I’m so used to writing university essays that argue the toss over politics, so it’s been nice to have a break from that and instead to produce content for the Lord Mayor’s and social posts for the city’s Christmas events. A highlight of my time with the Comms team was visiting the Festival Gardens project and getting ‘papped’ in a hard hat and hi-vis.
It was a great privilege to be introduced to the Comms team at the council. I did not realise how integral communications are to the council’s activities. I’ve met the fantastic people behind the press releases that often end up becoming articles in The Echo, or features on Radio Merseyside; the people who bring vibrancy to the city through cheerful graphic design; and the people who make sure local democracy is as transparent and accessible as possible on social media.
As far as the wider council goes, my perception will be changed forever; we’re in really challenging times, and politics is never a straight-forward affair, but with the calibre of people I’ve met during my time here, I’ve come away feeling hopeful and excited for my future in Liverpool.
Catherine How is an MA Political Science student.