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.