A week of work placement with Green councillors

School climate striker and musician Josie Law explains why working for a week at Edinburgh city chambers was the perfect opportunity for her work experience.

Work experience is something many a student goes through, though very few get the opportunity that they’re after. So to actually get the work experience that I chose was a minor miracle, and as a climate striker who is regularly leading the parades outside of the parliament and the city chambers, I could not think of a better place to spend my week than helping at the city chambers with the Green councillors. And with a mix of practical fieldwork, writing up of evidence, and writing letters to businesses, it made for a very exciting and informative week, which is exactly what I aimed to achieve!

Though a week is not a long time, (especially as we’re only given five days, from the 11th to the 15th of November) I managed to fit as much as one could into the week. Throughout this time, a project to do with investigating food waste produced by businesses on a day to day basis underpinned everything, meaning I always had something to come back to in any spare time I may have had. However, any spare time came very rarely, as I was often busy with observing committee meetings and writing letters and emails. It was a thought-provoking week, showing me exactly what could be done, and what needed to be done. Organised mostly by Councillor Gavin Corbett, he and the other staff members were extremely hospitable, showing me around the (incredibly) confusing building that is the city chambers, and answering any questions I had, from simple things ( “Do I go upstairs or downstairs to get to the Green Group room?”) to more complex things ( “How should I format this letter to make sure it looks professional?” ). In any case, they treated me as if I was I was working there as a more permanent arrangement, allowing me to see exactly what it’s like to work in a professional environment.

And what I’ve been doing has felt like it might have a real positive effect on the community, as I wrote to stores in the west of Edinburgh, asking them about their food waste guidelines and encouraging them to lower the amount of food waste that they produce. So as well as having a unique experience that not many people get to participate in, I also was making a difference, no matter how small, which is really something more than I expected that I’d be able to get out of this week. That is all down to the kind staff in the green group and elsewhere who helped me get as much out of this week as I could. All in all, it was a rewarding experience that really helped me, and I got everything out of this week that I wanted and more.

But it didn’t stop there, as on the Thursday of this week, I went to the parliament for the morning, to see what was happening on the other end of the scale, which was understandably very busy! I went around the building, (which was almost as confusing as the city chambers!) and got to see what MSPs were doing, and was given a ticket to go see FMQs, which was interesting and informative, and it was nice to see how things worked in the parliament, which was a nice change of scenery from the city chambers.

So as I write this on the last Friday of my work placement, I’m reminded of my peers who’re striking outside the parliament and across the country on this incredibly cold November morning. I am reminded that, although I wasn’t with them on this Friday, throughout this last week I have done an amount of work towards helping them, and also learned of many an adult who’s working towards averting the climate crisis that we strike against.

Though I’m not really sure why I’m surprised. They are called the Green party after all!

Josie Law is a Climate Striker in her fourth year at Broughton High School.