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During my first-year undergraduate studies in Constitutional Law, I decided to apply for an internship which would provide me with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how the European institutions work and interact, how legislation is made and passed, and the implications of this for the United Kingdom.
At the time, I had been considering the option of pursuing a career in politics. This was due to my interest in how global politics reflects continuity and change in societies. I wanted the chance to bridge the gap for myself between law and politics in a professional environment. I wanted variety and I appreciated that no two political issues are ever the same which to me meant that whilst a career in politics is demanding of time, it is never boring! Working at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg, I also hoped to be able to utilise my linguistic skills (particularly in French and Italian).
For the purposes of maintaining Parliamentary discretion, the Member of the European Parliament for whom I worked will henceforth be referred to by their title “MEP”.
Part of my placement involved shadowing the MEP at the meetings which I helped organise; taking minutes and taking photos whilst attending the Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and Security and Defence committee meetings. I also accompanied him to many bilateral meetings, and was invited to many events both within and outside of the Parliament, for example embassy receptions and external debates.
As his previous Parliamentary Assistant left his post during my first week in Parliament, I had to (to the best of my ability) take his position as the MEP’s assistant in Brussels and Strasbourg. Therefore, I was given a lot of responsibility in the office; having to draft responses to constituency e-mails; liaise with third parties, for example foreign embassies, in order to arrange bilateral meetings; and suggest, research and draft parliamentary questions to be submitted to the Commission, Council, or the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. During my time in the Strasbourg office during the plenary session, I also drafted speeches (oral explanations of votes). Whilst I was working at the European Parliament and living in Brussels and Strasbourg, I had an excellent opportunity to improve my written and oral linguistic skills.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at the European Parliament and found it tremendously educational. In my opinion, Law and Politics complement each other wonderfully. As I am considering pursuing a career in law (in which a knowledge of both the legal and governmental system is extremely useful), it was very beneficial for me to work within the European institutions and acquire a better understanding of how, for example, public policy fits into its legal context.
Janine Moutia-Bloom is student at Cambridge University and a brand ambassador for international law firm, Berwin Leighton Paisner