International Relations and Politics student Gavin McMinn has completed a placement year in local government after electing to join De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) through Clearing.
The 21-year-old from Bracknell secured a placement year as a Democratic and Electoral Services Officer at Bracknell Forest Council. During his time there, Gavin was able to work on the snap general election of December 2019.
He said: “It was a pretty exciting opportunity for a politics student to get directly involved with an election. As part of my role, I helped with the candidate nomination documents and processing through voter registration.
“On the night itself, I was part of the core team during the count, working until 3am to see in the results. It was an incredible experience, and not what you necessarily expect from a placement year.”
Gavin also had the chance to assist the mayor and deputy mayor on official engagements, attend citizenship ceremonies and become deputy to the superintendent registrar.
A particular placement highlight was his work on climate change, where Gavin acted as the lead coordinator on a ‘market place’ event to present work contributing to the council’s target of reducing their environmental impact.
He said: “I received excellent feedback from senior leaders, and it was such an honour to find out that my event has actually got the ball rolling on positive action to reduce the climate impact of the council.”
Gavin joined DMU through Clearing after changing his mind about his first-choice university.
He said: “I decided to go through Clearing because I had initially listed DMU as my second choice, but when I visited again for another Open Day, I just knew that DMU was actually the right place for me.
“I really wanted to go to a university with a proper campus feel, and DMU definitely has the full campus experience.
“It’s right in the middle of Leicester, which is such a close-knit community and a very walkable and cyclable city. There are also loads of independent restaurants and cafes, which is great if you want to support local businesses.”
When it came to results day, Gavin had already decided where he wanted to study.
He said: “The Clearing process was really easy, I phoned the university and explained my situation and they were able to offer me a place on the exact course I was interested in.”
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Soon to be going into his final year at DMU, Gavin has no regrets about his decision.
“My course is absolutely brilliant. If you’re truly passionate about politics, international relations or government, then there are so many opportunities that DMU can offer.
“Through my degree programme I’ve been able to visit New Orleans on a DMU Global trip, where we explored American politics and how the city has handled the Trump presidency.
“Back in the UK, I’ve also attended the yearly Congress to Campus events, which I think are the best political events I’ve ever been to. Students can meet former members of the US Congress and attend talks and Q&As with them – it gives you such a great insight into the American political sphere,” he said.
Gavin has also made the most of opportunities to get involved with student politics: being a student champion, representing students on the Business and Law academic committee, and even running for a position with De Montfort Students’ Union.
He said: “You can make your university experience what you want. If you find opportunities then DMU will support you all the way.
“My advice to any student would be to look at the connections you have through the university and use them. You never know what positive changes you could make.”
Posted on Wednesday 5th August 2020