An overlooked opportunity?

Young Christians are often at the forefront of activities aimed at bringing about change. Many take gap years abroad teaching English or helping with projects. 

But a role that could be further explored is that of a parliamentary intern. Although it is changing, the word 'intern' has become associated with images of young people in offices making tea, doing photocopying - neither engaged in meaningful work nor gaining skills.

However, an exciting opportunity at the heart of Westminster politics is to become a Parliamentary intern – a role that offers experience of engaging work for those drawn towards politics.

What does it involve?

The roles of a Parliamentary intern vary depending on the office of their placement and the scheme they are on. Typically the role offers exposure to the real world of politics and how things work.

  1. Interns may be involved in casework. This involves dealing with correspondence from constituents. Constituents usually write to Parliamentarians as their representative in Parliament because of issues that affect them personally or as part of a wider campaign. The intern would usually be involved with researching the issue, drafting an appropriate response, writing to Secretaries of State, Ministers or a relevant third party on their behalf, all with the aim of reaching a satisfactory solution

 

  1. Working in Parliament would usually involve conducting research. Research is essential to the work of Parliamentarians. It gives them the necessary information to be able to be informed about issues, make their minds about it and engage accordingly. It is thus very common for Parliamentary interns to prepare briefings on an issue which their boss is going to use to speak in the chamber. Interns may also be involved in writing reports to be presented before a committee in Parliament.

 

  1. Parliamentary interns may also write articles to be circulated in newsletters or for websites. For the social media savvy, who work in offices that have a heavy online presence, they may be involved in managing these sites. If you’re lucky, your job may include writing speeches for your employer. Extra activities but less common activities which interns may be involved in, include helping to table amendments, table a written question among others.

 

  1. Due to the busy schedule of parliamentarians, they are unable to attend many events to which they are invited or schedule to attend. Interns sometimes attend lobbies, launches and receptions on behalf of their employer. These offer an amazing opportunity to meet lots of people from diverse backgrounds, to hear about issues from people on the ground who are directly affected in diverse ways.

 What are the benefits?

The Parliamentary Intern role comes with the perks of being able to watch debates in the chamber, attend committee meetings, work in the same building as top officials and to learn about many political issues.  It offers exposure that helps you to decide whether MPs’ role is all pomp and no work, far removed from the realities of life, or rather an engaging and noble pursuit.

As such, the experience may also help one to decide a career path. As a result of learning about the problems that confront individuals and societies, one can identify with a cause to champion. Some people through such roles have also become convinced that they want to become lawyers or MPs.

If you have ever been confused about political jargon or felt inadequately prepared to comment on issues, this position is helpful for answering questions such as:- What is a Westminster Hall Debate? Does an MP taking part in that suffice as enough work done on an issue? Have you ever wondered whether the activism engaged in is sufficient to change laws and if so how it works?

Interested? The next steps…

If this sounds interesting to you, you could search for jobs in parliament through websites such as w4mpjobs. Some organisations offer schemes tailored for Christian young people such as CARE, the Buxton Leadership Programme, and Bishops' Conference internship.