PO675 Internship module: Student reflection

Alexandre El-Habr, a Politics and IR student, undertook an internship at EIMAI, an NGO, as part of the Internship module. Alexandre reflects upon his experience both a EIMAI and on the module.

“The PO675 Module is the best module a student can take in order to prepare him or herself for the work environment. Not only must you actively seek and get selected for an internship in order to take this module, but there are also various assessments within the module that assess the skills you learned, such as a 15 min presentation. I personally gained great public speaking skills, and more importantly learned how to pitch my experience in a way that highlights the skills I acquired, and why I am ready for the work environment; which is something that will be required of me in every job I apply for in the future. I strongly recommend students to take this module.
This summer, I interned at a Greek-American NGO called EIMAI. Its main focus is to promote ethical youth leadership, in order to make the political arena fairer, thus making the world a better place. It is important to note, that my expectations for this internship were completely met as I had previously worked with the organization and I relatively knew what I was going to do. During this internship, my research/critical skills, analytical skills, and public speaking skills improved through various tasks I was assigned. These tasks included researching theories on ethical leadership, Formulating a question for an article on the importance of peace education and ethical leadership development of youth as a solution to social, political and economical crisis in Greece which I co-authored. Lastly, another one of my tasks was pitching our goals to embassies in order to receive sponsorship for projects.
I believe that this opportunity given to me by EIMAI will greatly benefit me in the future, as it not only improved my analytical and research skills that were already acquired in university, but more importantly, helped me transition those skills into a work environment and act as a team player for the organization which increased my interpersonal skills.”

Graduate profile: working in the House of Commons

Recent Politics and IR Undergraduate Emma Booth, has had a fantastic start to her career, working in the House of Commons, and now working in Public Affairs. Reflecting upon her time at the House of Commons, Emma discusses working in Parliament and with MPs. 

“From being Chair of Kent Labour Students to representing over 5000 students as Social Sciences Faculty Rep, it is safe to say my time at Kent provided me with the confidence and skills that got me to where I am today.

I was lucky enough to secure myself a job in the House of Commons working for two Labour MPs before I graduated (that said I would also urge you to have a well-deserved break post university pre work life). Working in the Commons is not like any other job you will do, you never really know what you might expect on a daily basis, what press calls you might receive or even if your MP is going to get promoted. I started off working for two shadow ministers, one in Education and one in Treasury so I quickly learnt exactly how parliament worked, and how to effectively hold government to account.

It would never cease to amaze me working in such a bold and historic building and just how much you would learn from being immersed in its surroundings every day. Before I started I always found MPs to be quite intimidating but once you’re working with them on a daily basis you build up an amazing relationship that you wouldn’t quite get in any other job. You’d know so much about them as a person to really grasp what exactly you had to do to make their lives easier.

You can talk to as many different parliamentary researchers/assistants (they’re the same thing) as you like but they’ll always have something different to tell you and a different angle on how parliament works and what it’s like to work for an MP. In many ways working in parliament feels like an extension to university, you’re with people your own age (most parliamentary researchers are young to mid-twenties although this isn’t always the case) who are also straight out of university and you’re just constantly learning. Whether it’s about a specific issue in your MPs constituency or trying to wrap your head around and do a briefing on the Finance Bill – no day will be like the other. The other secret bonus is that Parliament has a bar (correctly speaking it has several) where researchers from all parties will go to after work and try their best not to talk about politics.

I’ve now moved on from parliament, to work in Public Affairs – a job that requires you to know the ins and outs of how parliament works as well as knowing as many MPs as possible.

To those considering working in Parliament and even taking that job onto public affairs or press, I would highly recommend doing everything possible at university to get involved. It’s very easy to become obsessed with just focusing on your degree (which is still something you should do!) but you will gain all the life skills for a future career by getting involved with societies, playing sports and just leaving your comfort zone a little bit and taking on new challenges.”

Student testimonial: Internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Elena Filip, a recent graduate from the School of Politics and IR, with a bachelor’s in Politics and International Relations, recently undertook an extremely competitive and valuable internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Romanian Ministry. In this piece, Elena reflects upon her experience, discussing her role at the Ministry and how this has influenced her future career.

The internship at the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) was part of an initiative-project promoted by the Romanian Government, Romanian Ministries and other political institutions. The project’s aim was to offer the youth the chance to observe how the central public administration works and to see what can be improved or changed within it.

There were 7,500 candidates who applied for the whole project and only 10 available positions within the MFA. Working with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for two months was an outstanding experience. Securing this internship was one of my goals after graduating from Kent and also the path I want to build my future career on.

During the first month of the internship I worked in the Communication and Spokesman Department. The environment was very active and I had to be available every moment to help the staff with different inquires, from filling in reports, analysing the news that may affect the Ministry, either positively or negatively, to participating in press conferences with diplomats. I also took part in the Annual Reunion of Romanian Diplomacy, as one of the press department representatives, where I had the chance to meet with ambassadors, diplomats and well-known politicians.

In the second month I worked in the European Union Department, more precisely, in the sector that is focusing on the Europe 2020 Strategy. Overall, my job was to submit a report, analysing the European Commission’s recommendations for each European Union member state from different perspectives, such as calitatively, quantitatively and sectorial. I participated in an event organised by the Embassy of Netherlands to Bucharest, focussing on how we can make the available data from governments and other institutions more open and easily accessible for every citizen.

Beside my work in the MFA, I took part in different events and visits organised by the project. I visited the Romanian Parliament, observing the democratic process within the Deputies Chamber, the National Bank of Romania, the Embassy of Canada to Bucharest, and I took part in meetings with the Romanian Prime Minister, Ministers and also with the USA chargé d’affaires to Bucharest.

This internship helped me realise that the career I want to develop is in diplomacy, to represent my country in diplomatic missions overseas and to help improve Romania’s image worldwide.

Interning at the EU Commission

Daniel Quirk, a current stage 2 Politics and History student, completed an internship at the Representation of European Commission to the UK. Daniel reflects upon his experience, including his responsibilities and the key aspects of the internship that he enjoyed.

eu-internship-daniel-quirk

My internship experience as a stagiaire at the European Commission Representation to the United Kingdom in London has helped me to develop my professional skills and has added something unique to my CV to impress future employers. I applied for this placement because I am interested in pursuing a career in politics and have focused my studies on European politics in particular, so undertaking an internship under the European Commission has definitely given me a better understanding of working for the EU and helped me consider my future opportunities. This experience also gave me an insight into the work of the Representation in the UK and how they represent the Commission to British citizens.

Working in the Communications Department, I was given a variety of long running projects over the internship period which were perfectly suited to the skills I have already been developing through my degree. My first main task was researching the traineeships which are available to British citizens within all the main EU institutions to put into a single resource for students and the Representation to use. I was also given the assignment of looking through EU-funded projects in the UK and collecting the details of their locations to be used for a website map of UK EU-funded projects. This was so the Representation could clearly present to citizens the projects the EU supports in the UK. These tasks allowed me to apply my aptitudes in researching and data collection that I have gained through my course and introduced me to the extent of investment the EU has put into the UK.

The most interesting part of this internship experience was being within the EU institution during a critical time in EU and UK relations. My internship at the Commission took place throughout the referendum and post-Brexit period and I have been able to see for myself the way the referendum result is being received and acted on. This has certainly added to the value of taking part in this experience. After the referendum, I was asked to help with organising some of the logistics of a debate which the Representation wanted to hold for the State of the EU Speech in September. This involved me helping with gathering contacts to invite to the event and helping on the day with the events delivery.

This stagiaire placement has given me the ability to develop my skills and also a clearer view of what I would like to pursue in the future. I would like to thank Claire Tanner in the School of Politics and International Relations for selecting me to undertake this wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank the Representation for hosting me as an intern and providing an enjoyable placement.

Find your career mentor on KEW-NET!

Are you interested in a particular career path, such as Public Affairs, Campaigning, Lobbying, but you are unsure how to get relevant experience in the sector? Or would you like to know what the necessary steps are to take, in order to achieve your career goal?

KEW-NET is an online mentoring service, set up by the Careers and Employability Service. This online mentoring network allows you to connect with students and graduates who are ready to share their experience and knowledge. From discussing job applications, CV’s, to finding work placement and internship opportunities, KEW-NET is a fantastic tool to network and receive career support from a mentor.

How does it work? KEW-NET is simple to set up, taking less than 10 minutes! All you need to do is register here: https://secure2.aluminati.net/kent.aluminate.net/ and once approved, you can log in and create your personal profile. TIP! If you already have a LinkedIN account, you can merge this with your KEW-NET profile to save time.

You can then search for relevant mentors using the filter system. You can search by graduation year, subject, services they offer or even ‘key words’ such as NGO’s or security. When you click on a mentor you can view their profile which details their experience, career, what they can offer and how many mentors they can take on. You can also see if they have previously mentored a student, and you can contact the student first to see what their experience was like, if you wish. If you find someone you think could be a suitable match, either message them first or send them a mentoring request. KEW-NET has it’s own message facility, so you can contact them directly through your account.

So why use it? KEW-NET is a valuable tool to network, making new business connections with people in the industry. Not only can you receive guidance and support, work/internship opportunities may arise through your mentors – so you never know where it may lead!

If you have experience in a particular area you can even sign up to be a mentor yourself!

With over 89 connections in Politics and IR already on KEW-NET, make sure you sign up and get networking!

Want to brush up on your networking skills?
Come along to the ‘Networking Know-How: Introduction to productive networking and business relationships’ workshop – Wednesday 26th October from 4pm – 5.30pm in Darwin Peter Brown room.

You can then put your skills to the test at the:

‘University Networking and Mentoring event: Find your perfect match!’ where you can network with alumni and find a potential mentor! – Wedesnday 26th October from 6pm – 8pm in Woolf Lecture Theatre.

Get involved with Enactus Kent!

Would you like to work with an international non-profit organisation, with a focus on  student led projects? Are you interested in gaining events, marketing or recruitment experience? Then Enactus Kent could be the ideal way to gain this experience! Sharad Kiswani, Operations Vice-President of Enactus Kent, introduces the organisation below and the types of projects they are involved in.

Hello everyone!

Enactus Kent is a student led organisation, where students are encouraged to create their own projects following the Enactus criterion using “entrepreneurial action to empower people to improve their livelihoods in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way.” Enactus is an international non-profit organisation aimed at university students by business and higher-educational leaders, in order to make a difference in the community while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

Currently, Enactus has are over 70 000 students, spread across 36 countries, working on nearly 5000 projects each year. That’s over 5 million volunteer hours, impacting the lives of nearly 2 million people.

Enactus

At Enactus Kent, we see opportunity to rethink and redevelop. Bringing students, academic leaders and businesses together, in order to shape a bigger, brighter and a sustainable future. So whether you are into design, economics, law, science, engineering, psychology, we believe that there is an entrepreneur spirit in all of us, ready to take action. While working with multinationals including Amazon, Ford, KPMG, Tesco, Santander and many more, we take this opportunity to make a difference in the world.

As of now, we have endeavoured to dispel isolation among the elderly community in Peru through our honey and soap enterprise through our international venture Project Cantuta. We also work to empower the homeless in Canterbury by training them to serve as tour guides through our local project, MyStreets. Further, we plan to be working towards empowering women in India by establishing a female taxi initiative through our new enterprise, Project Badlaav.

Enactus 2

Be a part of our wonderful projects or start our very own with a basic idea! If you’re interested to work in our internal team, you can get involved in various channels including our events, marketing and recruitment teams. For more information regarding our events or the application process, please contact: recruitment@enactuskent.com or visit www.enactuskent.org

Find us on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enactuskent

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/enactus_kent/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/enactuskent

Snapchat: https://cl.ly/3b37103T2R2D

Become RESULTS UK Grassroots Campaigner at the University of Kent

RESULTS grassroots campaigners take action locally to fight global poverty – using their voices to change the world. They receive training and support to become skilled advocates, from influencing MPs to policy makers, and engaging others within their community.

RESULTS campaigners at the University of Kent meet as a group to plan and take campaign actions and organise events. They regularly join our national conference calls, learning more about international development and sharing their successes from around the UK.

About RESULTS UK
RESULTS is a movement of passionate, committed, everyday people. Together they use their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. Our campaigners learn to effectively advise policy makers, guiding them towards decisions that improve access to education, health, and economic opportunities in the
poorest communities.

RESULTS campaigners have the opportunity to:
• Join the University of Kent RESULTS action group and meet likeminded individuals campaigning to bring
an end to poverty.
• Support our campaigns on global health, education and economic opportunities.
• Take action with us, from publishing articles in the media to meeting with your constituency MP.
• Hear from experts on international development each month on our RESULTS conference calls.
• Put your points directly to influential decision-makers at RESULTS Advocacy Days.
• Organise events within the local community, be an ambassador for RESULTS in your area and help us to
grow our network.
• Develop your campaigning and advocacy skills at conferences and training sessions.

Who are RESULTS Campaigners?
RESULTS grassroots campaigners are people from all walks of life who want to make a difference. All backgrounds and levels of campaigns experience are welcome. Campaigning with RESULTS plays to your strengths, whether you are interested in helping out at events or you’re a social media whizz, there are lots of
different ways to get involved and build your skills.

You are invited to the RESULTS UKC Introductory Meeting

You are welcome to come along on Thursday October 20th at 6pm, in Eliot Extension seminar room 9, when the national campaigns coordinator for RESULTS UK will be coming down to let you know what RESULTS is all about, and give you an opportunity to get to know other likeminded people.

Register your interest/attendance on the RESULTS Facebook page and pass on the word to anyone who you think would be interested.

Find out more and sign up
To find out more about campaigning with RESULTS UK and be put in touch with the University of Kent RESULTS action group, please contact us at join@results.org.uk, give us a call on 020 7793 3970 or join our Facebook Group. We’d love to hear from you!

Students develop new app to aid refugees seeking asylum

eLog is the name of a new innovative app, designed by Cesare Dunker and Rayyan Sorefan. The app can help immigration departments distinguish between genuine and fraudulent asylum claims.

Cesare, a Politics and International Relations student, and Rayyan a Law student, won Kent’s Big Ideas Competition, which gave them the opportunity to compete in an international entrepreneurship competition at Virginia Tech, USA, where their idea won a $5,000 top prize.

Presenting eLog

 

The app tracks an asylum seekers migration using geo-tagging, time mapping, and photo recognition. This enables asylum seekers to build their own comprehensive asylum case, helping immigration departments process genuine asylum cases faster, and detect fraudulent cases.

The idea was born after Cesare had witnessed the Refugee Crisis first hand while travelling through Europe in 2015, and then reading an Independent article titled: ‘Surprised that Syrian refugees have smartphones? Sorry to break this to you, but you are an idiot’. Cesare realised that the phones refugees were carrying could be used to allow for a new form of technological humanitarian aid.

Google Maps navigates asylum seekers through Europe, and translation apps help overcoming language barriers in different European countries. Asylum seekers are clearly using smartphone technology to get to and through Europe, so why not use it to gather documentation in order to apply for asylum?

Winning the $5,000 top prize secured a first investment, and eLog will continue the development of what they call ‘technological humanitarian aid’ at the University of Kent’s HIVE facility (Hub for Innovation and Enterprise).

For details about HIVE please visit https://www.kent.ac.uk/enterprise/hive/ 

Thomas Lodge: my internship at the International Seabed Authority

Current second year PolIR student Thomas Lodge, interned at the ISA, a body of the United Nations in Kingston, Jamaica, during the summer. Here Thomas shares his experience:

UN/ISA Internship –  Summer 2015

“I was lucky enough to be able to do an internship at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in the summer of 2015, through a family member. The ISA is a body of the United Nations located in Kingston, Jamaica, which is where I went for 3 weeks to attend and work at the 21st Session of the ISA. I was participating and working during the General Assembly, Council and Legal and Technical Commission meetings.

Thomas Lodge Nation group sub-debate in the Council
Nation group sub-debate in the Council

After some study of the UN from an academic perspective, it was really exciting to see it work in action. Through the internship I was able to attend and work in private meetings, which gave me amazing insight into the workings of international politics.  I was part of a team keeping notes and records of every session. The actual work was very intense and required attention to detail but it was very rewarding to be part of international legislation being made. The records I kept were vital to draft legislation and official session documents that have been and will be published.

The work I did during the internship further developed my research, communication and working under pressure skills. I learnt a great deal about myself and my abilities, pushing myself to my limits in a real working environment was invaluable to me and was very rewarding.

Thomas Lodge UN Intern Team
UN Intern Team

The international environment that working at the ISA involved was a great experience. I was able to have constant interaction with delegates from over 100 different nations, also including senior members of the Secretariat and United Nations. The interactions were not always formal in nature as I was able to attend side events and evening receptions held over the course of the 3 weeks, often held by the different embassies and consulates in Jamaica.

I hope to be able to find and complete more internships or working opportunities before I leave university and I would encourage others to try the same as it offers an invaluable experience and opens the door to many other opportunities.”

Student Internship: Planning Commission of Pakistan, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms

m.shah

Current stage 3 student, Mohammad Ali Shah, interned at the Planning Commission of Pakistan during the summer. Mohammad shares his experience, discussing the type of work undertaken, those in the Ministry whom he worked for and highlights of his time there.

I interned for 8 weeks, between the end of July and the first week of September at the Planning Commission of Pakistan, which is a part of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms. (Government of Pakistan)

I chose this internship because governance and policy making are very relevant to the degree I am doing, therefore it sparked a great interest in me. I have always been interested in macro-economic, development and social policy-making and I wanted to experience the making and execution of these policies first hand.

I worked under two very senior members of the Ministry namely: Mr. Syed Naseer Ahmed Gillani, who is the Joint Secretary for Administration at the Ministry, and, Mr. Malik Ahmad Khan, who is the Member of Infrastructure and Regional Connectivity, at the Planning Commission of Pakistan.

Under the guidance and mentor-ship of these two, I gained an extensive understanding of policy-making and its effective execution at government-level. They were very senior members of the Planning Commission and the Ministry, therefore they kept busy and had to constantly travel back and forth between their offices and Cabinet offices. Hence, it was rather tough for me to have lengthy one on one sessions with them. Despite this, they managed to give me enough guidance and help for me to carry out my tasks.

As a part of the internship, I produced a fifteen-page report on how climate change is impacting not only the global economy, but specially the developing world, particularly Pakistan. The report also contained details on the feasibility of alternative energy for both the developed and developing worlds. The report was concluded with an analysis of the reasons for Pakistan’s energy crisis, and Pakistan’s possible future contributions to the global struggle against climate change.

I also produced four short reports. The first, an analysis of the innate relationship between Capitalism and Climate Change, making references to Naomi Klein’s book ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate’. The second, an analysis on the IMF’s report on Pakistan’s impending water crisis, and its implications on the future of the country’s socio-economic structure. The third, a ‘concept note’ on climate change and its impact on Pakistan’s economic progress, Pakistan’s near-future water crisis, and possible solutions to both problems. The fourth, a report on globalization and its ever-changing implications.

If there was anything I particularly enjoyed, it was to experience and observe what the environment is like in a governmental work-place, and getting to know how senior policy-makers and bureaucrats go about their every-day work-related tasks.