The Silent Brains

I seem to have spent most of my teenage years volunteering for a charity though only got the chance to be an intern during my second year at university. Prior to arriving in Westminster, I’d heard numerous horror stories from previous interns though on reflection I believe experience of being a Parliamentary intern seems to have been rather better than some. The MP I was to be a general slave for was a ‘nice enough chap’ and we kind of took to each other the minute we met.

I think getting on with your boss and the other members of his office is one of the most important deciding factors as to whether you are going to come out of your internship confident and positive, or demoralised and negative. I soon learnt (after 10 minutes of walking through the door) that a Parliamentary intern does everything….and I mean EVERYTHING! From writing after-dinner speeches to buying Birthday presents for your bosses grandchildren. Yes, I had to do both of these and more, though my main task was writing back to constituents…..I’d write the letters and my boss would sign them……..how democratic is that??!! Well, apart from the day-to-day jobs…..fetching coffee (filtered with whole milk), collecting the previous day’s Hansard and entertaining the bosses guests, I did get to attend prestigious events (even though this meant leaving for London at 4 30am)

I learnt that an intern is the silent brains behind the success of an MP in many cases……and those who go on to be Parliamentary researchers (who are often few and far between) become the ‘permanent’ and paid silent brains behind those who officially run this country. No speech is written or dinner hosted without the intent assistance of an intern or researcher……….those who you never hear of. My boss only had interns in his office, all of whom were paid expenses, though little more in this respect.

What did I personally gain from being an intern? Well, I wouldn’t recommend it as a career (as you’d struggle to survive) though for four months it is doable. I haven’t gone down the Parliamentary route to search for a full time (paid) job, though I do have a graduate position and there is no doubt in my mind that my time spent in Parliament did highlight my CV. Despite some of the mundane tasks you might be presented with as an intern, all in all it’s a pretty cool experience……to walk down the UK’s corridors of political power. I went there filled with enthusiasm and confidence and left with just as much….which I put down to being with the particular MP I was stationed with. I didn’t expect to get paid anything at the end of it but my boss insisted on paying all my expenses after the internship. It isn’t an easy job, but despite all the rumours and the fact you hardly get recognition for the pieces you end up writing, it is worth having a bash at if you are able to take a year out of university or can’t immediately get a graduate career. 

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