Work experience in the defence sector

Final year student, Abi Louth, reflects on her time spent with the Royal United Service’s Institute (RUSI), based in London…

Abi Louth

Throughout my week at the Institute, I was presented with fantastic opportunities to improve my knowledge about defence and security, and to reflect on how I conducted myself in the workplace. During the week, I was privy to meetings, conferences and discussions with various individuals from the defence and security sector, as well as spending time in the House of Commons listening to evidence given in front of the Defence Select Committee. The week provided a fascinating insight into the varied work available and served as a reminder that this was the sort of work that I would like to pursue as a career.

I began the week listening to the UK Government Defence Secretary – Gavin Williamson – giving a speech regarding the future of the armed forces. It was certainly an interesting speech, which met with a somewhat negative reception. What fascinated me most was the reaction of individuals in the room. Present were the heads of the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force, several senior politicians and journalists; and nobody seemed especially convinced by the speech. I inferred that Gavin Williamson’s speech was discussing capabilities that we just don’t possess, for example “swarms of drones” (although maybe we now know the identity of the drone pilot attacking Gatwick airport)!

Spending time with individuals from the USA on Wednesday evening, I noted that there seems to be distinct confusion with socio-politics currently. The two individuals I sat next to at dinner were heavily involved in the previous US Obama administration, and each had been an Assistant Secretary of State responsible for particular areas: they were deeply concerned about President Trump; and of course Brexit was discussed. For me at least, I took from the conversations that no-one really knows governments’ agendas currently, and indeed what could happen with politics. However, they were both extremely interested in my hopes and aspirations for the future and provided excellent advice which I plan to put into action.

The main aim of my week at RUSI was to produce a proposal seeking funding for research into CRSV (Conflict Related Sexual Violence). I am pleased to say that I did achieve this although, as it was such a busy week, I suspect I will be spending more time working on the proposal over the coming month. The aim, as I understand it, is to send the bid to high net-worth celebrities and various private businesses to secure research finance from them. It is hoped that a research project will be established and that the findings will feed into UK government policy.

On Friday there were the walk-outs from school children protesting about climate change. I therefore enjoyed the contrast of beginning the week listening to the Secretary of State’s speech, and finishing the week with young people protesting and blocking the streets of London. It was fantastic to see the passion of young people regarding this subject and hinted at the power of group momentum.

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