This is What They Call "Work"?

This is What They Call "Work"?

Do not be mistaken.  There is plenty of productivity happening on this side of the pond.  However, I wish I could have half as much fun at "work" in the states as I do here.  This week officially marked the beginning of my internship and class lectures have officially begun.  Within a timespan of 72 hours, I have experienced more by way of my internship than I could have ever imagined was possible.  The opportunity to gain valuable working experience, while learning about the various elements of what research in development policy entails, is certainly welcomed.


My internship site is with the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau (formerly the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit) in the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London.  This was definitely the perfect match for my interests.  My primary interest has always been to affect policy change through evidence-based research, although I haven't chosen a specific area of policy to focus on.  This internship is the perfect combination of research and political involvement wrapped in a meaningful and educational experience.  I am particularly grateful that my internship site is trusting me with such significant projects that will contribute to the advancement of research in this area of policy.  I am not fetching tea/coffee, I am not being demoted to database entry for the purpose of relieving someone else from having to do it, and I am not making photocopies for the purpose of keeping me busy when they don't know what to do with me.  Do not get me wrong, all of these elements are still a part of the job and the projects that I am working on will require me to take part in one of the above at some point during the term - yes even getting tea/coffee may be a requirement to maintain workplace sanity.  (That one is for the caffeine addicts.)  I am gaining valuable experience performing specific tasks and working on significant projects that will not only help guide me toward a focus in my own research topics but, will give me the opportunity to discover exactly which occupations within this industry I would like to pursue.


I don't believe that I can accurately explain this week and just how much it meant to me to be able to participate, but I will try to sum it up briefly.  On my first day, I was able to participate in the organization's policy briefing launch and rebranding event.  (The day I started working was the official date the organization changed its name.)  At this event I was able to sit in a private meeting with a very influential political leader, meet the organization's founder, and greet High Commissioners representing over 30 Commonwealth nations.  Aside from networking with some of the world's most influential men and women, I was able to network with other researchers and individuals who work at the grassroots level of international development.  I was also briefed on the details of my first project, which I immediately began researching for, drafting correspondence, and working on a grant proposal.  This was just my first day.  On the second day, I had the pleasure of visiting Parliament AND sitting in on a discussion at the House of Lords.  Yes, I actually had a gallery seat with my colleagues in the House of Lords.  The purpose for our visit was to sit in on a discussion on the Commonwealth that is essential to some of the active projects facilitated by the CAB.  However, I was sincerely struck by all the magnificent detail of what I saw in that room - the Monarch's throne in the purest gold that can ever be obtained, paintings that tell a story of British history, and the beautifully architectured stone walls.  Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Capitol right before leaving D.C.  There is no comparison.  As beautiful as our capitol is, the Houses of Parliament possess a certain element of history, tradition, and reverence that the Capitol building in D.C. does not exhibit - at least for me.  This was truly an amazing experience.


I wanted to explain as much as I safely could about my internship, but the excellence of this program does not end there.  Class lectures are underway and are also providing a wealth of information that a typical textbook can not provide.  As a part of our London and Britian Culture class, we had the pleasure to see 'Much Ado About Nothing', a play by William Shakespeare.  The greatest part is that we actually were able to see the play at the Globe Theatre which is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theater built for Shakespeare in the 17th century.  This experience was truly amazing.  The play was absolutely wonderful and to see the play in the same way that it was experienced in the Shakespearean era was an added bonus. We also had the opportunity to experience the Mayor's Thames Festival this weekend.  This was the greatest fun I have ever had in experiencing a breadth of different cultures.  You really have to see it to believe it.  The dancing, the food, the was simply amazing!


So, this was my first official week to kick-off my semester in London.  I'm not sure it could have been any better than this.  See pictures from the week.  There are a few to represent every major event from the week.  I apologize that I wasn't able to include anything from my visit to the House of Lords (no cameras were allowed), but take my word for it - it was absolutely beautiful.

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

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