Life of Labour and Leisure

Life of Labour and Leisure

I think it is pretty safe to say that up until this point I have neglected giving the details of my internship here in London. So I'm here now to share more about the work side of London Life.

I work for the Local Government Association, a lobbying group for local governments. We work with, give information to, and provide services for district, county, and borough councils in England and Wales. I work specifically for the Labour Group, providing services to councils controlled by the Labour Party. It's a small office of four people plus myself. The building is just around the corner from the heart of UK politics, the Houses of Parliament and I walk past Big Ben when I exit the Tube on my way in to work.

It sounds somewhat glamorous, but most of the work I've done up to this point hasn't been super exciting to be honest. I just finished a project that took several weeks, making up a contact list of Council Cabinet Members, organized by which areas they represent or take the lead on for their council. There are about seven categories of different duties the councillors are assigned to if they are on cabinet, times that by about sixty different councils to find the information for. Add on all of the councillors with overlapping duties (about five to twenty per category). What do you get? A spreadsheet of 690 rows and 56 columns (which is 38,640 filled cells). Now that I've added that all up I am a little amazed I have not gone totally bonkers.

Overall, I have found everyone in the office to be very pleasant. My supervisor, Jessica, is a very sweet young woman that has been friendly and helpful since I arrived. I’ve talked before about the impartiality most Londoners have for strangers and I’m happy to say she has never treated me in such a manner. Her counterpart, Morgan, is a very quiet and very serious young man from Ireland. It is almost impossible to distract Morgan from work while he is in the office and it’s really quite peculiar. Though he also has been nothing but nice to me, I will say it’s taken me the longest to figure him out. Aicha, on the other hand, is a woman slightly older than Morgan and Jess and has really brought me in closer to the group. She was the first to make good conversation with me and nice enough to drive me most of the way home during the Tube strike – for both of these things I am eternally grateful. And last, but certainly not least, is the head of our office Nathan. Nathan is a charismatic Welshman with a knack for baking and the one most likely to speak his mind.

Generally my days are pretty calm. I show up around ten, make tea or have some coffee, set up my computer and get to work. I usually know what I’ll be working on that day before I come in so it’s easy to just sit down and get started. The office is generally quiet and most of the noise comes from the news which is on all day, but even its volume is low. But I have to say the best days are the ones when Nathan is in the office. The same calm atmosphere hangs over the office but the quiet will be punctured with bouts of cursing at the Tories (Conservative Government) on the news. The amazing part is that the sudden bursts of foul language go totally unnoticed by the other members of the office, as if it just blends in with the common street noise. Sometimes Aicha and Jess look up, but Morgan especially stays in work mode. If I haven’t let out a chuckle when Nathan starts up, then I do by the time I see the lack of reaction on my co-workers’ faces.

Scene - The members of the LGA Labour Group are working diligently. The clicking of computer keyboards and soft hum of the news is in the background. Morgan faces his computer, back straight in the center of the office. Nathan jumps up from his desk after reading the computer screen, disrupting the peace.
Nathan: This is ridiculous! How could he!
Nathan stomps over to Morgan's desk.
Nathan: Morgan! I want you to write him! F--- that! F--- him! I do what I want, when I want. I don't do what he tells me, I do it because I want to and he knows that!
Staring straight ahead Morgan replies...
Morgan: Good, right, great.
The office carries on. Cut shot to the look of dismay and amusement on the intern's face who has been watching from the corner.

Luckily though, I have a habit of breaking the routine of the work week (as my past blog entries can attest to). This last weekend it was with a trip to Ibiza. Since class was cancelled I set myself up for four glorious days on an island off the coast of Spain. Sun, sand, and sangria – it was a wonderful holiday. I toured parts of San Antonio and Old Ibiza town, did some shopping, and spent a lot of time working on my tan. The island was absolutely gorgeous and we made it a point to catch the sunset outside of Café Del Mar – twice. Totally unlike London or my Labour Life, I had almost no plans for what I would do while I stayed there. There was no spreadsheet and no political jargon. And though I love my job and who I work with, it was four days out of my routine and four days of people who actually react when someone starts stomping and/or cursing.

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

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