Politics students in the midst of the action at Westminster, on the Exeter Politics Internship Programme.

Exeter Politics students spend an eventful summer in Westminster

With an unprecedented two recalls in two months, summer 2011 was an unusually busy time in Parliament, and five University of Exeter politics students will retain vivid memories of those summer months. They were in the midst of the action at Westminster, on the Exeter Politics Internship Programme.

The scheme, launched earlier this year, offers second year Politics and International Relations students a taster of working alongside parliamentary assistants, researchers and MPs. The experiences the students encountered varied from accompanying a local MP on visits to her constituents to writing questions to be asked in the House of Commons.

The interns have been able to reflect on their experiences and have been able to clearly identify how the internships will help with their final year of study and their career aspirations.

“The skills I have acquired in researching, primary sources, contacts will … help me in my final year with my dissertation. The entire experience has given me the determination to work hard and aim to be involved in such a prestigious environment once again.”

David Hoy, BA Politics

Support for the project was secured early on with offers of placements from our network of alumni who work in Westminster. Further financial support was provided through the University’s Annual Fund to help cover the expenses of the students on internships.

Andy Slaughter MP for Hammersmith and an Exeter alumnus was pivotal in getting the scheme off the ground and offered an internship which was taken by Economics and Politics student Joe Spilsbury.

“Andy, with his Office Manager John (another Exeter alumnus), made my summer placement a great experience and they are both true assets to the University and its students. They have shown how Exeter students can climb to the top of the political ladder. I’m very grateful to Andy and his Office for accommodating me over the summer and providing me with memorable experience of real politics in action.

Working within Parliament, at the centre of politics in the UK, has confirmed to me where I want to be in thirty years time – working in central government as a Civil Servant, or just maybe a Minister!”

In order to maximise the flexibility of the Exeter Politics Internship Programme, interns could also be based in constituency offices, or within other government departments at Westminster. 

Rupert Yorke, BA Politics and Philosophy, gave his assessment of his placement with Sheryll Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, which involved spending two weeks in the Constituency Office.

“In Cornwall, I managed to go with Sheryll on her visits to her constituents, which was invaluable experience and something that I'm guessing the average politics student has little concept of: This is the grassroots part of civic service.”

Two students were placed with the Parliamentary Resources Unit and worked with former Exeter Politics student, Dan Hooper, who commented:

“David and Harriet did a fantastic job for us. After 10 weeks they were confident with the tasks they were getting and researchers were confident in utilising their knowledge and skills.”

The Exeter Politics Internship programme will continue in 2012 with a broader range of placements. We are seeking internships of different lengths, from two weeks to full summer internships, and hoping to increase the number we are able to offer. Applications will open in March 2012.

Date: 5 November 2011

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