An invaluable insight into New Zealand’s political system

An invaluable insight into New Zealand’s political system

Each year a group of postgraduate students undertake an internship at Parliament as part of the POLS428 course. Annie MacDonald, one of this year’s interns, shares some insights about her time in the Beehive.

Annie MacDonald (pictured front row, second from right) and fellow postgraduate political science students undertook internships at New Zealand Parliament, each working in the office of a Member of Parliament.

This year, I was fortunate to become part of the 19-year legacy of the Parliamentary Internship programme, which meant spending roughly 160 hours working as an intern in the office of a Member of Parliament (MP). It was an invaluable experience, and a whole lot of fun.

The programme, which runs from March to November each year, can form part of a postgraduate degree broadly focused on political science.

Alongside standard course requirements, participation in this course means spending around one day a week working as an intern in the office of an MP. The process for placement with an MP is designed to ensure that the experience is one that benefits both you and the MP—you learn from the inside and they get some input from a keen student.

I found there was a wide variety of tasks assigned to me and the other interns in my cohort—from policy research to offering a helping hand at events, to drafting correspondence and meeting constituents.

Aside from the diverse work, I was exposed to the inner workings of Parliament, attending select committee proceedings, policy announcements and party meetings, all of which was incredibly fascinating.

I also felt well supported by the coordinator and formed friendships with the other interns.

As I am told happens every year, the internship class bonded over the experience and I personally have really enjoyed having a group to discuss and debate the latest political news with.

My experience as a Parliamentary Intern has been an invaluable one as it has exposed me to the reality behind my degree, but has also enhanced my engagement and interest in it.

I’m sure the time spent and benefits received from the internship will stay with me long after I leave Parliament.

Annie MacDonald is a studying a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, majoring in Political Science.

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