Dani came to POST through the British Ecological Society policy fellowship scheme. She wanted to get as much policy experience as possible, hoping to go into a policy job once she had finished her PhD.

“Policy has always been something I was very interested in, as someone working in conservation and from a very politically engaged household,” Dani says, referring to her father who was a trade union rep. “I knew that it was really important to get our work heard by policymakers, and I felt doing a placement at POST was a great way to gain an insight into how to do that.”

Dani completed her fellowship in 2016 and is now a post-doctoral researcher, at the Zoological Society of London.

The POST experience

Dani’s time at POST did not disappoint her. “It was fantastic,” she says. “Honestly I have always been interested in Parliament and how it works so to get to work there, tour the building, go to debates, meet MPs and see everything happening in person was a really amazing experience.”

During her fellowship she worked on a POSTnote on environmental crime as well as a follow-up briefing. Thinking back at the work she says it was the highlight of her PhD, which she also really enjoyed.

“The work was really engaging and getting to go to work every day in the parliamentary meetings, attend policy events and even just sit in the cafeteria having a cooked breakfast in the Terrace canteen before work was incredibly interesting and I enjoyed it immensely.”

Life after POST

Today Dani is doing a post-doc based on her PhD work. But in parallel, she has also become a popular science author and zoological consultant. So she has managed to stay in academia while building an independent career in science communication.

While her success is a result of her talent and determination, she can’t help but think back on her communications training from her time at POST. “They helped me immensely in both my scientific and popular science writing. Before my fellowship it took me ages to get anything down on paper, then after POST I had three academic papers and three popular science books out in a pretty short space of time.”

Advice for POST fellows

Dani gained a lot of valuable insight while at POST. Her suspicions of the complexities she’d have to face were affirmed, as were her hopes of the doors that could open.

For example, she knew policy makers were short on time, but she had not appreciated quite how short on time. Likewise, she knew she’d have to talk to people to research and complete her briefing, but being a PhD student, she didn’t expect to talk to major stakeholders in the conservation community.

“I don’t think I expected to get quite the access to politicians and experts that I did. Working at Parliament opens so many doors to people who you would never get a chance to talk to or work with as a PhD student.”

So what does Dani have to say to PhD students eyeing up a POST fellowship? “Go for it. It is interesting and great fun. I’d do it again if I could!”

You can find Dani on Twitter @DaniRabaiotti

POST Fellowship Spotlights

A series of interviews with previous POST fellows exploring the POST experience, life after the fellowship, and advice to new fellows.