I am a student entering my third year in the Faculty of Arts, pursuing a Joint Honours degree in Political Science and History. I take interest in international relations and world issues more broadly, as well as sports and friends. This summer, I was fortunate enough to intern as a Parliamentary Assistant for Canadian Member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith. Nate represents the riding of Beaches-East York, near my home neighbourhood in Toronto.
I reached out to Nate because of his desire to legitimately address the climate crisis, treat addiction as a health – not criminal – issue, modernise Canada’s social safety net, and because I agreed with his belief that politics should be guided by independent reasoning rather than excessive partisanship. My goal with this internship was to couple the theory-heavy Political Science I study at McGill with in-the-field experience, by helping Nate achieve the political objectives I just mentioned.
I have learned that in politics maintaining a job is precarious, and so is the concept of a daily routine. My tasks as an intern varied significantly by the day, with each presenting its own unique learning opportunities. The days I enjoyed most were those dedicated to drafting legislation. A few other young employees and I would sit down with Nate (only 37 years old himself), complain about how the federal government was operating, discuss how the federal government should be operating, and then break off to spend the day drafting legislative proposals for the ministers who were operating the federal government. I wrote lots of legislation on taxation: limiting international tax evasion, closing excessive CEO-worker pay gaps, and – like every other G7 country - implementing a wealth inheritance tax. It was great to see how these processes play out from behind-the-scenes and I am grateful for the opportunity. Another frequent duty I performed was attending meetings on Nate’s behalf, which spanned from meetups with the East York Canada Day Festival committee to joining a Zoom meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau during the Israeli-Palestinian flare up. Finally, I spent a great deal of time managing Nate’s email, responding to hundreds on hundreds of constituents about their political concerns (mostly about how to get vaccinated).
Because Nate is young, so were all my colleagues. This meant that I was able to connect well with many of them. Some are planning to visit me in Montreal this fall. I am thankful for the friendships I have made this summer and am excited about the idea of working with these colleagues again sometime down the road!
The only real challenge I faced throughout my internship was staying engaged and enthusiastic when working remotely, because it became repetitive at times. I made sure to remind myself that these were uncertain and unusual times to be entering the work force.
Though I will not be pursuing academic credit for this internship, it has been incredibly valuable to my university experience. This summer has opened my eyes to the world I study beyond the lecture halls and has been vital to my professional development. I hope to pursue a master’s degree in International Relations, and I believe ‘Parliamentary Assistant’ will bode well on a CV.
I would like to thank the donors of the Faculty of Arts Internship Award. Your funding has permitted me to pursue an unpaid career opportunity which I otherwise would not have experienced. Thank you as well to the Arts Internship Office who have been incredibly supportive of the interns this summer, in the face of COVID-19.