My International Internship Experience

 

LI building

So here’s my first post! I’m incredibly excited to get started on this blog but here’s a little secret – I’ve been struggling to decide what I wanted to write about as my first post. There are so many things that I could choose from but doing an “all about my summer” post (like the ones we used to do in elementary school) seemed the most prudent. I hope to also give some pertinent information that might help and encourage you to participate in an internship, whether it be here in Montreal or halfway across the world. This past summer was, without a doubt, the most influential and important of my life thus far and I owe it all to my internship experience.

I was lucky enough to spend late May to late August interning in the London, UK borough of Westminster. This is the neighborhood where some of the world’s most famous landmarks come together – Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye. I could see all of these buildings from outside my office building so it was truly an ideal location. While I found and applied to this internship on my own, I was lucky enough to receive the Gregg Blachford and David McGillivray Internship Award through the Arts Internship Office (AIO). By receiving this award, I was given $2500 to use towards the costs of my internship, as it (and most internships for undergraduate students) are on a voluntary basis. I applied for this award through the AIO last spring and was informed that I had won the award before leaving for the end of term.

Liberal International is the world federation of liberal political parties, having been founded in 1947 to promote liberalism and support liberal parties around the globe. I found this internship on my own through lots of Googling, searching through internship databases, and sending out far too many cold-call emails. I was primarily tasked with work pertaining to Liberal International’s Women’s and LGBTI Rights working groups in addition to event planning and social media. My main project for the summer was the establishment to promote and educate liberal parliamentarians on the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention.

My advice to potential interns is to quickly accept and embrace the fact that we, as interns and students, do not possess the same depth and breadth of knowledge that our coworkers have at their disposal. When I first arrived at the Secretariat at the end of May I felt inadequate in my knowledge of world affairs in comparison to my much more experienced colleagues. I decided that it would be important to take the opportunity to learn as much as possible from my elders and from the wealth of resources available to me – a library full of books, the Lib Dems headquarters and Houses of Parliament just down the street, and a network of prominent liberals from whom I was able to learn. By the end of my internship I was able to chime in and give my opinion during the informal daily tête-à-têtes on a myriad of topics, from the current Presidential campaign in Taiwan to the pros and cons of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

This term I will be writing an extensive research paper (40 pages+) on the evolution of international women’s human rights legislation and the Istanbul Convention through the Department of Political Science under the supervision of Interim Dean of Arts, Professor Hudson Meadwell. I’ll definitely update this blog on my research and progression through the semester, as this is a huge undertaking!

I’ll be posting again soon, hopefully before the end of the month. I hope that you’ve had a great first month of school and that all is well in your sphere of the world!

Until next time, Phoebe Warren

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