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I was preparing for my first-year university exams, and realised that I was entirely unsure what I wanted to do after my degree. I knew, from volunteering experience, that I wanted a career in the charity sector. But I had no idea what the options were. Eight weeks and one amazing internship at Principle Consulting later, and I now know that I want to work in Policy and Public Affairs.

I was a ‘first generation’ university student, and that and volunteering with Zero Gravity, a social enterprise that provides mentoring and support to students from low-income backgrounds, enhanced my passion for education and social mobility. From working with a sixth form student, I can see the first-hand benefit that their services provide. On a larger scale, it is exciting to consider the wider impact on society of having greater representation of students from all socio-economic backgrounds in higher education, and how this will translate into the workforce after these students graduate. So a natural next-step for me seemed to be to work for an education charity. 

Perhaps the best insight I have received from my time with Principle, therefore, is the breadth of charities that do amazing work in the UK, as well as the variety of ways to work for and with these charities. Exposure to health charities, organisations that help refugees, and groups working to reduce poverty reinforced the value of working in the third sector. Throughout the internship, I spoke with countless individuals working in a variety of roles within the range of charities that Principle works with, and their energy and passion for the work that they were doing, and their drive to achieve meaningful change to better the lives of so many was simply infectious. 

I realised quickly, however, that the Policy and Public Affairs side of charities appealed to me the most. I loved that no two days were the same, not only because the needs of the organisations change regularly, but also because the political landscape is ever changing. My experience was made so incredible by the whole Principle team. Being part of such a dynamic team that took the time to explain anything that I was unsure on, and that had such a wealth of knowledge of the political systems and news helped me to imagine myself in their shoes after university.

As a maths student that loves problem-solving, it was so insightful to chat with the team about all of the strategic work and planning that they do to work out how to best achieve the desired outcome. They go above and beyond for the charities, and I also really benefited from their dedication and focus on achieving the best. Supporting this work through stakeholder mapping, producing briefings, writing to MPs, policy research, monitoring and horizon scanning, among a wide variety of other tasks, boosted my confidence that I would both be capable and enjoy the role of a Policy and Public Affairs consultant. 

At the end of the eight weeks, and returning to university, I feel driven to now more clearly defined goals. But above everything, I feel a huge debt of gratitude to the whole Principle team. It was an incredible experience to work alongside all of you, and I really appreciate your patience and willingness in supporting me. Thank you all!

Grace Gartlan worked at Principle as a policy and public affairs intern in summer 2023

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Principle Consulting (trading name) is the same company as Principle Affairs Ltd, company number 05467588 (full details available on Companies House).

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