How working with the Mayor of Bristol gave me a great insight into the world of politics.

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by Mamadou, BA(Hons) Politics and International Relations.

Politics and International Relations student Mamadou shares his experience of mentoring and internship, gained through the UWE Equity Programme. Hear how he got to work with the Mayor of Bristol, what he discovered about himself and the opportunities it has opened up for his future career.

My placement experience.

I had the opportunity to take part in a mentoring scheme through the UWE Equity programme and I really enjoyed being a mentee.  This was not just because my mentor was helpful and supportive and became a great friend, but because the placement he helped me secure was with the international team for the Mayor of Bristol.  My mentor was the Policy Advisor for the Mayor.

The International team promote Bristol throughout the world and liaise particularly with twinned cities, such as Hannover and Bordeaux.  This resulted in great opportunities to be involved in meetings within and outside the Mayor’s office, where real issues were being discussed and decisions made.  I further enjoyed the opportunity to shadow the Mayor several times – particularly during his meetings with the UNHCR Ambassador and during visits to deprived areas.  The team allowed me to contribute as well.  I conducted research into events in Bristol and twinned cities to help with the promotional effort.

This resulted in great opportunities to be involved in meetings within and outside the Mayor’s office, where real issues were being discussed and decisions made.

Mamadou

I discovered things about myself and learned lots of new skills.  I can understand how the international relationships work and have an aptitude for the research they needed.  I learn well in a business environment and am quick to understand new subjects.  I also discovered weaknesses, such as my knowledge of how local government is involved internationally.  Another aspect I was unfamiliar with was the difference between academic and corporate styles of written communication.  This experience has been a great insight into the world of politics and has taught me so much.

When I first met with my mentor, I explained my career goals of entering international diplomacy and ultimately run for the presidency of my home country (Guinea).  I further explained that I had only started speaking English – as a third language – three years ago.  He was impressed by this and my ambitions.  Clearly, he had a strong idea of what would help me on this path because the placement has substantially increased my awareness of this dimension of politics, has granted me extraordinary opportunities to witness and to participate in these efforts whilst continuing to improve my language skills.  I have gained new contacts as well – people who are happy to support my continued development and will be useful in my career ahead.

I have gained new contacts as well – people who are happy to support my continued development and will be useful in my career ahead.

Mamadou

Apart from the opportunity to see real work in action, the primary benefit of a mentoring and placement programme is the acquisition of skills that are applied in that real environment, rather than those learned in just an academic environment.  Now the placement has ended, I can see how I have gained truly practical real career skills that are rarely considered such as – How to act in meetings.  How to learn by shadowing.  Time management.  How resources are applied to a project. These are all transferrable skills and will be invaluable in the future.

An unusual technical skill I developed during my research was to search for specific sites in both English and French.  As my range of languages increases, I am better able to apply them to the work I do.

Now the placement has ended, I can see how I have gained truly practical real career skills.

Mamadou

Find out more about studying Politics and International Relations at UWE Bristol.

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