“Rhoda Grant and David Stewart’s Office”

For the past two weeks, that phrase has resonated in my ears. Working at the Scottish Parliament may quite possibly be the most exciting, different, and worth while professional experiment I have yet to experience.

That being said, apologies for not writing about it sooner. However, when the choice is between living the incredible life I now get to live or staying indoors and writing a blog post; well I think the better choice speaks for itself.

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Nevertheless I will try to be more timely, as lack of content is one of my pet peeves.

I suppose simply sharing what I do would be the best way to describe what fills my work day. Working as an intern, I mainly share administrative duties with Eva, the assistant to Rhoda and David. This includes answering phones, managing email accounts, opening mail and other typical office environment tasks. I must admit, the first day consisted entirely of answering emails, and I thought I had made a terrible mistake in my choice for this internship. Why would I pay over $8,000 for an internship essentially consisting of something I could do for free back home? It just didn’t make any sense to me. Not only did I feel deflated, but also angry. I wanted excitement, incredible new skills and duties to fill my resume, and also relevant career experience. While I’m not sure if running for office or being active in politics is something I want to do in the future, I wanted those experiences. I know that whatever career I choose in the future, having such a background will not only give me an incredible edge, but also might even be necessary.

Thankfully, my frustrated sentiments did not last. While emails and administrative duties still fill a hearty amount of my days, tasks more suited to my originally expectations do as well. For example, three parliamentary motions written by me are now floating about, waiting for support by other members. I have listened to questions I crafted be asked in the debating chambers. Briefs, reports, and research I compiled are being used to assist my MSPs in their work. Rhoda and David are even beginning to have enough faith in me to send me on conferences and events on their behalf to take notes. Just last week, I went to a Transportation Event on behalf of David, sitting in a room with high profile people, and taking notes and making observations like any other important young professional. Despite my young age, no one doubted or questioned my ability to be there. For the first time, I felt like an adult; not a student with a lot of responsibility, but an actual working grown up. It was an incredible feeling.

It truly is astonishing how much I as a mere intern get to do. I am so glad, because that is really what I signed up for: to get these experiences. After talking with some fellow interns, I was stunned. Many thought they would just be getting coffee or filing papers. I could not believe that anyone would actually subject themselves to such an expensive experience if that is all they thought they would gain from it, but to each their own…

I suppose I could continue to list and describe all the things I do at work, but I feel as though it is beside the point. I am so looking forward to the following months. I am confident that I will learn and grow so much from this experience. Although, I must unfortunately do my best not to express this feeling too much: In Scotland, and the UK in general, networking and being eager and basically all the things we are taught to do in the US to advance our careers is frowned upon. Sharing your skills and expressing what your strengths are reflects arrogance and a bad impression. In essence: do not talk about your successes directly. While bothers me, not because I want to talk endlessly about myself, but because I enjoy portraying myself as a confident and capable person, I accept the challenge. One way or another, I will “wow” my MSPs and make lasting connections. It does not seem too difficult a task. As mentioned by many others who found themselves in the parliament, staffs are very small, so making intimate connections with MSPs is not difficult at all. Already, I have gotten to have close conversations with Rhoda when she took me out campaigning with her (yes that happened, and it was amazing). I am sure that my endearing personality and general competence will shine through in my favour.

The next weeks in Scotland will become more intriguing. Another intern from the University of Edinburgh will join me in the office. I will have a fellow intern, a competitor, but also hopefully a new friend. New adventures will also occur as trips to Glasgow, the Highlands, and even mainland Europe fill my schedule  diary (they call it a diary here). But as always, this no longer budding but blossomed travelsmith will share her tales.


The Travelsmith

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