Axell is a 2017 International Relations graduate from the University of Portsmouth. He completed the House of Commons BAME internship programme in 2018.
In 2017 I was awarded a Master’s degree in International Relations by the University of Portsmouth, after which I secured an internship at the House of Commons, having come through the BAME programme, managed by Step. The selection process was more challenging than any I had been through on previous occasions; it included an assessment centre, which I had never experienced before.
When I was an undergraduate, I wanted the experience of working in political environments, so I had worked in Community Engagement at my local council before I was hired by an MEP in Strasbourg. To secure these internships, I meet three requirements; a good CV, a persuasive personal statement and a convincing performance at interviews.
When I applied for the BAME internship, the assessment centre stage evaluated my capacity for leadership, communication, teamwork, interpersonal skills and the ability to gain knowledge in unfamiliar subjects quickly. Coming through this process boosted my confidence in my ability to do well at the House of Commons. This internship gave me opportunities to build on the practical experience I gained as a student in my previous workplaces. It also gave me clarity about my career options.
Working in a select committee granted me direct access to people from all walks of life, including members of the public, business leaders, politicians, and heads of charities. The support I received at the House of Commons was incredible. Besides training, I was allocated a work “buddy” who helped me understand my job, a mentor who advised on ways to maximise my experience, and the Diversity and Inclusion Team met with me regularly to see how I was coping in that demanding environment.
Step supported my development, helping to set goals, organising meetings to review my progress, encouraging me to identify areas where I needed further training, and paying for such training. Before the internship began, Step organised an induction day where I was given general information about workplace policies and procedures, and the support available to me during my internship. Coming out of university, this information was useful.
To future BAME interns I would give the following advice: Follow your dreams. Remember where you’ve come from and use it to motivate you going forward. Take the time to understand how things work in your new workplace; expectations vary from one environment to another. Take every opportunity to develop; welcome constructive criticisms, attend training and networking events, volunteer to take on tasks to support the team. Challenge yourself. Enjoy the experience, because it will be over before you know it. Above all, be sure to look after yourself physically and mentally too.