As a British Tamil women, entering into the political sector has always been somewhat of an impossible dream for me. However, the opportunity to interact with politicians and also build my own political network has been made possible through participating in Patchwork Foundation’s Masterclass Programme. I have already been amazed by the opportunities this programme provides young people like myself, such as meeting Caroline Preston, Deputy CEO of the Conservative Party.
Entering into that Zoom Masterclass programme on the 3rd of March with Caroline Preston, I had no expectations because I did not have any experience in meeting a political figure. However, by the end of call I was motivated by the openness and fascinating insight Ms Preston provided from her extensive years at the frontline of the UK political sphere.
Below are three key messages that strongly resonated with me that I wanted to share.
- Everything you do is a learning curve.
When Ms Preston described her inspiring career journey, she reiterated that every opportunity is important to our development, both personally and professionally. That is why it is important to say YES to any opportunity that comes your way. Try not to become too comfortable with what is going on in the present and instead constantly look for new ways to push yourself. This will help with both your personal development as well as achieving your wider aspirations.
- Having different opinions, ideas or approaches is not the end of the world.
In any area of work, it is inevitable that there will be conflicting ideas and actions taken. However, as Ms Preston highlighted, it is important to have a level-headed approach on how to handle these differences. Remaining indifferent about other people’s opinions will not achieve anything. I realised from this session that you should always be open to addressing differences, developing a strategy to understand the other side. This will be hugely beneficial to not only understanding other people but also help in your own career growth.
- Learn from the failures.
Ms Preston mentioned how the unsuccessful election campaigns were just as informative as the successful ones, as she was able to spend time evaluating the campaign approach. This is because in analysing these failures, you are able to understand what could be done better. This is important to note as this can be applied to every aspect of our lives. Personally, as a 2020 university graduate, it was daunting entering into the ‘real world’, especially during a pandemic. The rejections and also lack of them, was brutal and demotivating. It was a miracle to receive any feedback from recruiters. However, I later realised that these rejections and lack of feedback helped me to be more critical and reflective of my own work. I was able to amend certain areas of my application that for many months I assumed were completely perfect. Hearing from a successful figure like Ms Preston helped me to confirm that failures is a normal part of life and something that we should all embrace to grow and become better.
To conclude, a special thanks to Ms Caroline Preston for being so approachable and open. She made our first Masterclass a truly memorable session!
Written by Jaanuja Rajendran, Patchwork Masterclass Participant 2021