Reflections on BES Policy Internship

Having completed my PhD viva in September 2017, I was really happy to be offered a Policy Internship at the BES, starting in October.

Adele with her leaving present, Bessie the Opuntia.

It’s an exciting time in ecological policy, with Brexit bringing the promise of radical overhauls of agricultural, marine and environmental regulations, consultations coming thick and fast, and the ongoing process of negotiations with Brussels all needing attention. It was also a time of change for the Policy Team, which meant that I was able to help with a wide range of work.

During my internship, I attended Ecology Across Borders in Ghent, at which I spent time flitting between talks on my twin callings of pollen and policy, and ambushing unsuspecting members to contribute to our #EcolPolicySnapShots series of Twitter micro-interviews. It was great to hear about the diversity of policy issues our membership (from all over the world!) are concerned with, and to hear from everyone from undergraduate representatives to the (now former) president herself. I’ve also been able to attend events, including in Parliament, and helped with the first meeting of the Wales Policy Group, a key development in the BES’ policy work in the devolved nations.

It has been really interesting to see how the Policy Team consults with members to collate views for government and select committee consultations. Ecologists are a varied bunch, and it has been a learning curve to see how complex evidence and diverse opinions can be condensed into the format needed by policymakers, in an unbiased and objective manner. Contributing to the BES’ Policy Guides has also formed a large part of my work, putting the finishing touches on the third guide, and making headway on a fourth. Working on these guides helped me to realise how a small amount of knowledge can go a long way in getting your message out to the relevant people.

Practically, the internship has been flexible, paid (at the London Living Wage, even when this increased during my internship!) and allowed me to continue writing up papers, completing my thesis corrections, putting in grants and making job applications whilst living in London. It has been a fantastic learning experience, and the BES is a super friendly, supportive and interesting place to work. I look forward to staying involved with the BES in future as a member, regardless of where my career ends up taking me.

Follow Adele on Twitter @AdeleCMJ