YOUR MP WRITES: Islwyn MP Chris Evans

This month’s Argus Column is written by Elizabeth Dunford, who worked in my constituency office for four weeks after looking for a work placement through the Islwyn Work Experience Programme.

AS AN English Literature graduate the first thing people say to me upon hearing my degree choice is: ‘Oh, so you want to be a teacher?’ For a while my answer had been positive, I was thinking about it, and would tell them that I was considering a PGCE.

However, after being asked this question for the fiftieth time something within me snapped. I abandoned all thought of shiny red apples and decided to apply for jobs in the public sector.

Little did I know that the next three months would consist of me languishing on the sofa in front of my laptop, quoting useless lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and crying over the tens of emails that began with the words, “I regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful”.

My problem – lack of experience. Due to the fact that administrative work doesn’t usually consist of reeling off sonnets from memory or discussing Kafka and psychoanalytic literary criticism, I needed to become acquainted with the ways of an office.

That meant experiencing filing, faxing, database entry and the other skills required to show employers I would be capable of all the tasks they threw at me.

It was during this period of my battle with the catch-22 of needing experience to get a job but needing a job to get experience that my Job Centre advisor told me about the Islwyn Work Experience Programme, founded by Chris.

Suddenly the comfort food and tissue boxes were thrust aside and my fingers sped over the keyboard as I wrote the cover letter for my application.

A few days later I had been contacted by Chris’ office and asked to attend an interview. It was an amazing relief to finally find someone who was willing to help.

From the moment I walked into the constituency office I knew it would be a great place to work. Everybody was upbeat, welcoming and asked - probably the most important question to a nervous young woman - if I wanted a cup of tea. Chris was no different and put me at ease instantly.

Whilst working in the Constituency Office, I mentally ticked off the check list of questions that are included in almost every application form I had come across.

Now, imposing questions no longer bother me. Verbal communication, time management, creativity – I had covered them all.

Towards the end of my time in Chris’ office, I acquired a place on the Passport Programme in Caerphilly County Borough Council.

With the help of the Islwyn Work Experience Programme I am one step closer to finding work.

Comments (1)

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8:44pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

So glad that your persistence and hard work in the face of such adversity has finally started to pay off, Elizabeth. If more employers realised the amount of hard work and brain power that goes into the attainment of an English Literature Degree one might hope that they would be more than willing to snap up an intelligent, determined graduate such as yourself. I think that part of the trouble is that intellectuals and artists are not appreciated enough in this country - too many employers seem crass, uncultured brutes who only care about how much money they can make. Which is sad.
So glad that your persistence and hard work in the face of such adversity has finally started to pay off, Elizabeth. If more employers realised the amount of hard work and brain power that goes into the attainment of an English Literature Degree one might hope that they would be more than willing to snap up an intelligent, determined graduate such as yourself. I think that part of the trouble is that intellectuals and artists are not appreciated enough in this country - too many employers seem crass, uncultured brutes who only care about how much money they can make. Which is sad. Katie Re-Registered

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