Shadowing local MP broadens History student's horizons

A fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of a Member of Parliament’s office has given a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student a taste for politics.

History student Heena Pandit’s intriguing work placement recently was part of the course’s History in the Workplace module.


The 20-year-old was able to learn about the inner workings of constituency life for Mary Robinson, the MP for Heena’s home-town of Cheadle, near Stockport in Greater Manchester.

Jobs during her week-long stint included corresponding with residents to help advance their concerns and find out if the MP was in a position to help them, as well as researching tasks to ensure the Conservative MP was kept well-briefed on local issues.

Heena said: “It gave me a better understanding of what an MP does and I definitely have a greater respect for MPs now, knowing the amount of work they do to try to help people where they can.

“It’s given me a taste for working in politics – I’m not saying I necessarily want to be an MP, but getting involved in politics in some capacity is something I’d be interested in now.”

The second-year student worked closely with the MP’s constituency office supervisor and Heena’s History research skills came in handy, including creating briefing documents on breaking news stories.

One such incident included a high-profile rail tragedy when a 46-year-old woman died after being hit by a train at Cheadle Hulme station.

The university’s History in the Workplace module has led students into a series of intriguing work experience posts, which is one of the reasons DMU History students are 100 per cent satisfied with their course, according to a recent national survey.

The course scored the highest possible rating in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2016 and has also been ranked in the UK’s top 10 for both teaching quality and student experience in The Times and Sunday Times’ Good University Guide 2017.

Other History in the Workplace engagements this year including roles at Leicester’s King Richard III Visitor Centre, local primary schools, Leicester City Council and at solicitors’ offices.

“It’s a really good module and I learned a lot of new workplace skills. It has broadened my horizons, helping me to see what I could possibly do with my History degree in the future,” Heena said.

Unfortunately, Heena did not get to meet Ms Robinson during her tenure this September, such was the sheer scale of work the MP was involved with at the time including frequent trips to Westminster.

Heena had met her previously, however, when the then sixth-former was at Cheadle Hulme High School and Ms Robinson was campaigning during the 2015 General Election campaign. It was then that Heena first got the idea of trying to gain a work experience place at the MP’s office.

Posted on Tuesday 27th December 2016

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