Work Experience

Since her election in May 2015, Victoria has offered the opportunity of work experience in her local and parliamentary offices to young people in the constituency.

You can apply for work experience in Victoria’s Upper Heyford and Westminster offices by emailing her. Applicants should be aware that this opportunity is only available during school holidays. Spaces are strictly limited.

Please note, applications for work experience in the summer of 2017 have now closed. 

You can read more about some of our previous work experience students below.

Luca Filippi, 18, Blessed George Napier School

Victoria with Luca Filippi

Victoria with Luca Filippi in New Palace Yard.

My week of work experience in Victoria’s office has been a great insight into the work of an MP and their staff. It has been fascinating to see how politics works on a local level, a constituency level, in parliament and even the work of a party office. Beginning on Monday, we were introduced to Victoria’s constituency assistant, Stephanie, who showed us around the office and told us about her work. My first task was to compile a database of all the primary schools in the constituency and write to them inviting them to take part in a Christmas card competition which will take place in November. Alongside this, Will and I worked on our main task of the week which was to create an extensive database of Victoria’s recent contacts. With over 1,000 names it was certainly a big task!

On Tuesday we were both invited to Westminster to meet Victoria and her assistant Catharine in their parliamentary office. We were both very excited to see parliament first hand! We made it to London at 9:30 having survived rush hour on the tube and made our way to Portcullis House – the main office building for MPs – where we were greeted by Catharine. On our brief tour in the morning we saw many famous faces, including Andy Burnham, who was sat at the table next to us!

When in the office, we opened mail, responded to constituents and even helped Victoria research a question which she then asked the Chancellor in the chamber. Shortly before lunch, we went to Central Lobby where we saw the Speaker’s procession and we then made our way to the visitor’s gallery above the Commons chamber where Treasury questions were taking place. After lunch, we sat in on two Select Committees; one on the Treasury and one on Home Affairs, where we saw both George Osborne and Theresa May!

For the remainder of the week in the constituency office, we continued with our work of writing letters and briefings for Victoria, continuing with our database and even answering a few phone calls! The main reason I had chosen work experience with an MP was to get a deeper insight of politics, but I had also finished having developed many useful skills of working in an office which I know will come of great help in the future! I would definitely encourage all young people to try and arrange work experience through their MP!

Will Thompson, 17, The Warriner School

Victoria with Will Thompson

Victoria with Will Thompson in New Palace Yard.

Monday:

Monday was my first working day at Heyford Park House. After being introduced to Stephanie and the rest of the team, I started research work for a briefing on Bicester’s “Garden City” plans, which were to be referenced in a later meeting. This involved doing online analysis of data and opinions -from a variety of sources- concerning the project, and assimilating them into a document. I really appreciated the more challenging and important nature of the work I was being set, as it meant I could genuinely learn and benefit from it, unlike many work experience opportunities for people my age. I similarly started work on the ongoing project of a database formulation for use by Victoria, specifically for community projects.

Tuesday:

Tuesday’s work at Portcullis House and at Westminster definitely ranks highly in the most dramatic, and awe-inspiring, experiences of my life. After going through security, we proceeded to Victoria’s Parliamentary office- holding the door for Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham on the way. The open architecture and atmosphere of Portcullis House meant we were able to see many news-worthy politicians working and interacting throughout the day. In the morning, I researched employment statistics for the North Oxfordshire area, for usage in the question Victoria would pose to Damien Hinds, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, later in the day. Seeing the House of Commons in action- with MPs questioning Chancellor George Osborne on his summer budget, referencing issues such as productivity, capital expenditure, and the changes to university maintenance grants- was truly amazing. Back in the office, I worked with Luca to draft a professional response to a letter from a Banbury constituent. I then attended a special committee meeting, featuring politicians including Chancellor George Osborne and Jacob-Rees-Mogg, and focussing on topical issues such as the development of Greenfield and Brownfield land. The day was topped off when I came within a foot of Home Secretary Theresa May, and heard her answer questions on Britain’s support for Tunisia, her viewpoint on Islamic radicalisation and her plans to help resolve the “Calais Crisis”.

Wednesday:

Whilst nothing could be expected to match the splendour of Westminster, on Wednesday I felt I really came to understand more about the role played by Heyford Park House in the community. This was partly through the work I completed, but mostly through the interactions with constituents and colleagues conducted by Stephanie which I observed. Whilst many view the local constituency office as a purely “political” entity, its function became apparent as a more multi-faceted body, with the primary altruistic objective of serving its constituents. Throughout the day- whilst continuing my ongoing work on data base formulation- I drafted an open letter to constituents on a local issue, as well as articles for Victoria’s website, and conducted research in preparation for Victoria’s constituency pub tour.

Thursday:

On Thursday, I experienced the functions and protocols of a working environment to a greater extent. Answering the phone, opening and sorting mail, and learning to navigate a real office printer (for the first time) gave me valuable insight into the everyday workings of an archetypal office; knowledge transferrable to almost all sectors of employment. I further adapted and revised my earlier drafts of web articles, after receiving feedback from colleagues, and attempted to emulate styles of other articles I was provided with.

Tom Webb, 17, The Cooper School

Tom on the Commons’ Terrace at Parliament.

Monday morning, I arrived at the Upper Heyford office to meet Victoria’s constituency office staff. They welcomed me to the office and the first task undertaken was the sticking of new signs on the doors of the office. The day eased me into the workings of the office, and I started to complete small tasks, such as counting flyers and scanning, as well as writing a Press release and a letter to a constituent. My first day got me into the framework of the office, and I returned the next day more confident and at ease.

Tuesday morning, I started off going through cases with Victoria and her staff. This was interesting, for I was able to see how they go through cases on a day to day basis. After this, Victoria and I went on a visit to St Mary’s Church in Banbury, where I was able to see the way that MPs visit places and interact with constituents and engage with local issues. There, I got the opportunity to listen in and take photographs, and went back to the office where I completed the Press release and submitted it for checking. This press release was subsequently published in the Banbury Guardian along with the picture I took. In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to call constituents on the phone and organise appointments for them to see Victoria. I didn’t have much experience with calling people on the phone formally, therefore this was an interesting experience which has helped me with this.

On Wednesday, I took the train into London, and made my way to Portcullis House to see the Westminster side of Victoria’s office. I met Victoria’s Westminster staff, and was taken on a short tour of Portcullis house, where I was able to see what a river-facing office was like, which was exciting. Then I began work in the office, where I replied to emails and other such things. In the afternoon, I got a tour of the Houses of Parliament-to areas I had not seen before, such as the chapel and committee rooms. We then went onto the terrace, and saw the views of the river. It was interesting being in Westminster, since I saw the other side of the work that MPs have to do, on a more national scale.

Thursday morning, I continued working on other letters and emails from the week, continued scanning, and prepared for a meeting the next day, by doing some research on what was required.

Friday morning, I came in a little early to prepare for the meeting, and then got underway with that. After this was over, I returned to my scanning, to make an awful discovery-that I had in fact scanned the previous 500 documents the wrong way up and it was just a blank side that had been scanned! I re-did the task that afternoon, and thankfully this time everything scanned properly! Before beginning the seemingly mammoth task, we went for a wonderful lunch.

My week at Victoria Prentis’ office has been a hugely enjoyable, eye-opening week which has increased my understanding of the internal workings of a MP’s office, and the way that they deal with the public and central government. I have taken away from it; the fact that I would like to pursue a political career, and that I ought to get more involved in local politics while still in school. It has also flagged to me that other work experience placements and internships are key to succeeding in this field.

David Holroyd, 16, Warwick School

In short, my work experience week at Westminster and Heyford Park House has been a tremendously exciting experience all round. I have seen the workings of politics and British Government at different levels from national to local, and I have gained an insightful and intuitive understanding of the tasks done in London and an MP’s constituency.

At the start of the week I began by travelling to Westminster and meeting Victoria’s Parliamentary team, and they assigned me several tasks so that I could get a thorough and varying experience whilst there. As well as learning how to write and answer standard emails, I was given the opportunity to research the potential candidates in the Conservative Party for the next PM. On these two days I was also taken around Westminster to see the House of Commons and a few select committees, as well as witness Victoria present questions herself and take part in the important Governmental process. I was given a useful and exciting time as I saw a diverse range of debates and was given several responsibilities whilst in London, especially in a week with lots of remarkable and thrilling political activity going on.

In my last three days I worked with Victoria’s staff back in the constituency, and I helped with administration by addressing numerous letters, scanning, writing briefings for a House of Commons debate and a meeting with a constituent, as well as creating databases for use in the constituency office.

Over the week I saw a portion of the wide variety of the work performed by MPs and their staff at Westminster and in the constituency, and everyone I met was extremely friendly and helpful. This work experience has highlighted to me the vast potential for a career related to politics, and has assisted me with working out the profession that I would like to pursue in the future. I have learned a variety of skills over the week that will be useful in any career, and I am really glad that I contacted Victoria to arrange this work experience week as it has been some very useful and exciting days.

Beth Rees, 16, Oxford High School

I applied for this work experience in the hope that I would gain a greater insight into the day to day life of an MP, and I have definitely learned not only that, but also many other skills, such as letter writing and commuting, that I know will be very useful later in life.

I did my work experience here less than two weeks after the referendum and I found that there was so much going on during this huge time for British politics; there was never a dull moment! The highlight of my week was definitely visiting the House of Commons: it felt very surreal seeing well-known politicians such as David Cameron, George Osbourne and Boris Johnson just a few metres away. During my time in Westminster, I also had the opportunity to go to some Select Committee meetings and I found these really interesting because I had never sat in on a meeting before and I learned a lot about how they are run. There are a wide variety of committee meetings which means that there is something that everyone will enjoy- I particularly liked going to a meeting on what the impact of the referendum will be on science and technology. I found that by actually being in Westminster, you learn so much more about it than you do reading about it online, for example I thought it was clever that they ring a bell when it’s time for a vote.

I was also lucky enough to visit the constituency office for two days and I found that it was really interesting learning about exactly what an MP does to help his or her constituents.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I would urge other people to apply for work experience with an MP because you learn so much about lots of different things and I personally found that it was very different from anything I had done before.

Chelsea Hegarty-Swain, 17, The Cooper School

My work experience week at Victoria’s offices has been tremendously insightful; it was fascinating to observe and experience how politics worked on not only a constituency and local level, but on a parliamentary basis too. The somewhat hectic schedule after the referendum also made my time in Westminster a lot more surreal!

I began by travelling to Portcullis House in Westminster on Monday, where I was warmly welcomed by Victoria’s Parliamentary team. My first task was to open the post and categorise letters – it was so interesting to see the varying level of responses and requests an MP receives. I really liked how Victoria and her team prioritises any queries a constituent may have, by emphasising the need to accommodate and respond to them promptly. This is something you don’t tend to see publicly and I was mesmerised by the efforts that go on behind the scenes in Westminster. I then continued my day by writing press releases entailing the current state of the Conservative leadership contest as well as the Judicial Appointments Commission; a select committee that I intended to go to the next day.

The next day I was able to go into an event and a few Select Committee meetings, including the financial stability report of the Bank of England. This was such a good opportunity in itself as it was fascinating to see how committees are practiced, and seeing what a political career can entail.

During the rest of my week I worked with Victoria’s staff in the constituency office, where I wrote briefings on a motion for debate in the House of Commons; the renewal of Trident. As well as this, I helped create databases for use in the constituency office. On Friday however, I had the opportunity to go to the North Oxfordshire Conservative Association office where I was able to see the conscientious work that goes into helping constituents. I handed out leaflets to constituents in Banbury, informing them about their local councillors; it was so interesting to see and experience the function of politics on a local level.

Overall, my work experience at Victoria Prentis’ offices has been fantastic, it was beyond insightful by seeing the nature of work that goes on in a political career. The list of skills that I have learnt over the week are indefinite (including how to adult… commuting to London was a first!), and something that will help me in the future regardless of what I decide to uptake. I would certainly recommend, and encourage anybody to arrange experiencing the work of an MP with Victoria Prentis!

Shauna Bennett, 17, The Cooper School

I started the week in Victoria’s office in London, I made my way down on the train and underground to Portcullis house where I met Victoria’s Westminster staff. Just being inside the Houses of Parliament was an amazing experience let alone being able to work there for three days. As I did my work experience just four short weeks after the EU referendum and one week after the appointment of our new Prime Minister, I was able to see parliament in full swing and this was exciting. For the first day I spent my time in the office re-writing the huge list of ministerial responsibilities after a cabinet reshuffle by the new Prime Minister Theresa May; this was very interesting and it enabled me to find out all new positions within the cabinet and parliament itself. Being in parliament while the debate on the UK’s nuclear deterrent was taking place was an exciting experience.

On Tuesday I again made my way down to London on the train, today I was lucky enough to watch two debates; one in the chamber itself and another in Westminster hall. The debate I saw in the chamber was very interesting as the effect of the bill in second reading was directly relevant to myself, as it was the Higher Education and Research Bill. Seeing many faces I had only seen on TV before was daunting but also extremely exciting. The second debate in Westminster Hall being: the Contribution of Poles to UK society, this was extraordinary to watch as it gave a clear indication of how many MPs felt very strongly of the topic.

Then again on Wednesday I was in the London offices reading standards, helping draft emails and also accompany the Westminster office staff to a very informative meeting. I was also lucky enough to see a second debate in the Chamber in the House of Commons on Reductions in housing benefit for people in supported housing, as it was opposition day it was the Labour party who brought forward these debates; they were very interesting to watch and some controversial however very relevant topics where brought up and therefore the debate was enthralling.

On Thursday it was my first day in the Constituency office in Heyford House, I was able to meet Victoria and to talk about some relevant issues and also my own views. Within the office I wrote some press releases for Victoria’s website, which gave me knowledge in an area I was not familiar with. We also went for a lovely lunch.

Friday was my last day of my work experience, I spent the day in the constituency office in Heyford House. I spent my time filing and drafting emails on very interesting topics; this was good for me as I had to learn to write about issues which my personal opinion was very different and therefore I learnt a very important new skill of putting forward points from both sides of the argument.

Having the week work experience with Victoria Prentis, my local MP, has been extraordinary. I have been to places and seen things that I never would have been able to, it has been an amazing opportunity and it has really told me that this is the career that I want pursue take after University. This week has also allowed me to develop both my social skills through meeting new and important people and also my skills in the work place; this has been achieved through writing many emails and also arguing many points that may not be my own views. I would recommend to all people to get more involved in local politics and definitely to do a similar work experience if you are interested in the field. My week working in politics has encouraged me to get more involved in my local community such as debates and local meetings. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to have had a work experience such as with Victoria.
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Victoria with Shauna in the Constituency Office

Izabel Morris, 17, Stratford Girls' Grammar School

I applied for Work experience with Victoria Prentis in order to gain a greater understanding of what a career in politics could entail, as well as to experience the day to day life of British politics. I have loved my time with Victoria’s team who have been extremely welcoming and have done nothing but accelerate my passion for politics.

I took part in work experience during the summer recess, despite this, there was still so much going on in both the Heyford Park office and her Westminster office at Portcullis House.

On Monday and Tuesday I was in the Heyford Park office where my first task was to help compile a local database in order to help Victoria with her unique ‘pub tours’. I found the idea of her pub tours fascinating and an amazing thing for an MP to do as it allows her to make a personal connection with the people and communities that she strives to help. I then had the chance to do some research and write a briefing based on an email received from a constituent about the political and social atrocities in China, which was something I was unaware of prior to my time in the office. This was fascinating for me as it opened my eyes to what’s going on around the world, and how it connects to our country and politics. Furthermore it allowed me to have an insight into the sorts of things constituents contact their MP about, and it was a pleasure to see the constituent being listened to and something being done.

On Wednesday I travelled down to Westminster where I was welcomed by Victoria’s team at Portcullis House. The contrast between the two offices was interesting for me as it showed the two different sides to the MP; the Heyford office being the link to the people and the Westminster office connecting Victoria to the policies. At Westminster I was given the task to go through the oral question sessions and to compile a table of MPs opinions on transport issues in order to aid Victoria in her recently appointed role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Transport Ministers. I found it fascinating to see what has really been said in Parliament.

Overall my time in Victoria’s offices has been exceptional and not only have I had an interesting time carrying out tasks and research, the advice and expertise that her team can give is priceless. I leave this work experience with a clearer understanding of the realities of British politics and with the inspiration to continue into a career in politics.

Thank you for the experience!

Olly Daly, 16, Radley College

When I arrived at the Constituency office on Tuesday, Victoria’s staff were very welcoming and kind. Unfortunately, I had picked the one week when Victoria was on holiday and with parliament in recess during my few days, I was worried there was not going to be much to do. How wrong I was. The morning was filled compiling a database of all schools in the constituency. The afternoon was especially exciting though as I gathered various facts about the Syrian conflict for Victoria’s trip to Jordan later this year.

On Wednesday, I travelled down to London and spent the day in Portcullis House in Victoria’s parliamentary office. I spent my time collecting and summarising oral questions on Transport for Victoria due to her recent appointment as Parliamentary Private Secretary. I was also kindly given a tour round the Palace of Westminster in the afternoon.

On my final day, I returned to the Constituency office and went through a series of case on various issues including e-cigarettes, prescription charges and local development proposals. Over the course of the 3 days, I have learnt a huge amount and have not stopped enjoying it. It is a real experience that is incredibly useful for the future as you can cover a range of different subjects. I thank Victoria and her staff for looking after as well as entertaining me over the course of my work experience. I would recommend this to anyone interested.

Ned Fiennes, 17, Eton College

When I decided to do work experience with Victoria I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. Deciding to do any work during the holidays, let alone four days of it, would usually be seen as an unnecessary stress that one would place on themselves, however, it is safe to say that with Victoria and her crew I had an absolutely fascinating and enjoyable week of experiencing the heart of politics at both a local and national scale.

The first day I spent was in the constituency office where I helped her staff to deal with issues and queries raised by Victoria’s local constituents. It quickly became clear that the role of Victoria and her staff in the office entailed problem solving and actively engaging with the people of North Oxfordshire and it was great to spend the day completely involved in helping people of the local community. I wrote both letters and emails to concerned locals, touching on issues from housing to the usage of e-cigarettes, and it felt fantastic to be able to help to alleviate some of the worries faced by the community.

I then spent the next three days experiencing the thrills of Westminster, experiencing the constant movement and work that goes on behind the scenes of Parliament. The time I spent there was varied and covered all aspects of Victoria’s everyday life in the House of Commons, from watching her introduce her first ever bill to witnessing the huge amounts of organisation that goes into the Singing for Syrians charity.

The entire time I spent with Victoria and her team was completely engrossing and I loved every minute I worked in both the constituency office and the office in Parliament. I would highly recommend the experience to anybody who wants to gain a glimpse into what the role of an MP entails and into the very heart of British politics. A special thanks must go to Victoria and her team for being so accommodating and putting up with me for a week despite their jam-packed schedules!