Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Alex Smethurst

BA Politics and Parlimentary Studies | 2008 - 2011

Photo of Alex Smethurst

About Me

Originally from Essex, I was never really into politics until I studied it for A Level. I fell in love with the University after attending an open day. There’s something about those iconic Brotherton steps. I was also a regular attendee at The Old Bar.

Why I chose Politics and Parlimentary Studies at Leeds

I was studying Politics at A Level and my teacher recommended I apply to the course – no one from the school had ever been accepted onto the course before so I wanted to be the first!

My Course

PPS really is a unique course and there’s nothing like it. I wanted experience in Parliament as I wanted to be working there after I graduated, so Leeds gave me a great step in the right direction. A lot of MPs knew about the course and spoke highly of past interns.

Learning Facilities and School Support

Unlike the majority, I much preferred to borrow books from the Brotherton library – there was never a shortage of information. You could probably apply to be a QI elf if you spent enough time in there.

Professor Kevin Theakston gave me a lot of advice during my final year, both academically and personally. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have thought about applying to study a Masters at the London School of Economics (and thanks partly to his references, I got in!).

Leeds as a city

The city was a big factor in applying to the Univeristy. Since my ‘hometown’ was quite some distance away, I wanted to be leaving knowing I would be getting a real life experience, not just an academic experience. There was even a time when I had a pretty good map of the city centre in my head (from a lot of nights going out). The key is to know that if you want to play hard, you need to work hard too. The University and the city are the perfect ingredients to achieve this.

My Experience at Leeds

It’s impossible to sum up the entire student experience at Leeds, but it has helped me greatly in progressing through to the next stages of my life. I regularly go back to see friends who currently study or have stayed in the city. I even follow @LeedsUniUnion to keep check of the annual #leadluu elections.

Since Graduation

I am currently the Parliamentary Assistant to Stephen Williams MP (Liberal Democrat, Bristol West) and I am standing to be a Bristol City Councillor in the May 2013 elections. No one day is the same when you work for an MP. I could be in the middle of a press release, when a constituent rings about housing and then an email pops us that I need to be somewhere in the constituency. I never need to worry about clock-watching. My internship experiences meant I had contacts within Parliament after graduating. I don’t think any student is under the impression they are guaranteed a job and the University offers many great CV building opportunities.

Career advice for prospective students

Get experience. Be that volunteering, an internship or being active in a society. These are the real skills that employers are looking for.

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