I undertook an internship this year through February and March, based in a Conservative MP’s Westminster office. It was an amazing opportunity to experience how politics looks and functions at national level. After getting over the initial feeling of being overwhelmed by the many famous faces you see all around you, it didn’t take me long to realise that I had some challenging work in store.
I felt like I fitted in very nicely to the office environment that the MP had created. It was fast paced and there was absolutely no margin for mistakes or misinformation. One of my first duties was to compose replies for my MP to sign that signalled a polite decline to the many invitations he received to events and exhibitions. This task was expanded when I was given the responsibility to reply to various constituent concerns ranging from benefits, to anger at the length of queues at passport control. Often these concerns were difficult to reply to directly so I would then have to take the path of contacting the Ministers who were concerned (e.g. Phil Woolas Immigration Minister at the time).
The MP I worked for also left many documents to read thoroughly on many different subjects (e.g. auditing), which I would then brief him on, in order to save him any valuable time I could in his hectic schedule. We met eye to eye on everything and I was able to answer any questions he directed towards me. Further into my internship I was privileged enough to be given the responsibility of writing the MP’s weekly article for his local constituent paper- when it was finalised he was more than pleased with it.
There was some work that I didn’t entirely relish. I was often sent to do lots of photocopying. This was laborious and far from stimulating but bearable because it was a job that needed to be done.
At the time the MP I worked for was a Shadow Minister who had a very intense and hectic schedule. I was given the privilege of attending a Shadow Minsister team meeting where the various key party players came together to discuss the development of party policy. Being in attendance with such significant people within the party is something I will always cherish.
However, there were definitely some drawbacks with my internship. Firstly, I felt that I was always short of work. I would always ask for more work but my colleagues in the office usually replied saying there was nothing to give me. I sometimes questioned whether they actually trusted me to carry out more high profile work. Secondly, I didn’t always take pleasure in working with the MP. He always seemed to be quite angry regardless of what the problem was. On a couple of occasions he actually demonstrated frustration towards me when I mistyped a letter, a mistake that arose due to his despicable writing. He actually appeared quite offended when I asked what a certain word was he had written on an invitation card. However, I fully understand that his working life is full-on and that he needs constant and efficient service in order to fulfill his role as a MP.
Regardless of the drawbacks, I enjoyed my internship and my MP has agreed to give me a ‘glowing’ reference for future job applications. He also paid for my travel expenses which can’t be that bad.