Internships: all you need to know
This page includes information
This page has been written primarily to help
MPs’ offices work out if they need an intern and how to get one. If, however,
you want some work experience with an MP, these are the things you should think
Would you prefer to work for an MP from a particular
How much time can you give? How many days per week and over
what period of time?
What hours are convenient for you? You might have regular
classes or other engagements or you might want to travel after 9.30am to
avoid paying peak fares.
What money do you need? You might be able to support
yourself or you might require an allowance for travel or even lunch.
What particular skills do you have? Can you type? Do you
have casework or research experience? Are you able to update websites? Do
you have document production or design skills? Etc…
Do you have any disabilities, either physical or mental, which
may have an effect on your ability to do the job?
Having got this information together, write to
those MPs for whom you would like to work. If you are not sure which MPs you
might want to work for, do some research on individual MPs at this website:
The postal address is: House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA; tel. no. 020
7219 3000. You are probably best advised to contact your local MP first as s/he may be better disposed to employing you. Alternatively, check the job
section on this site regularly and apply for the internships that are posted
there from time to time. Don’t contact the agencies below as they provide
placements for specific universities and programmes and do not generally place
individuals who approach them.
Have a look at our Guide
on Looking for a job working for an MP. Lots of job search
Guardian article "The politician's apprentice"
22 July 2004. Why you should be a Westminster Intern and how to go
If you are considering getting the help of an
intern there are some things you should consider…
Can you support an intern? It takes some staff time to
organise and supervise an intern’s workload. Is there any staff time
available for this?
What work will you get your intern to do? Will they be
photocopying and filing or will you give them a single project to complete
in a certain timescale? Try to pitch the tasks at the appropriate level.
Don’t demand too much but don’t expect too little.
Remember that an intern is coming to work for you, usually
for free. How can you make the role fulfilling? What are they hoping to get
out of the experience? Can they accompany the Member to any meetings,
receptions or other events?
You don’t know how much ability or initiative an intern
has before you take them on. What are your minimum requirements? What if
things go wrong? Under what circumstances would you ask an intern to leave
before completing the internship?
Can you accommodate an intern with a disability and have you
considered the Health and Safety implications, including a risk assessment?
Step by step
Check that you have enough space in your office for an
intern. Will they need a computer or other facilities?
Consider the amount of time you want an intern for each week
and the length of the internship. Most programmes offer interns for four
days each week and you may not be able to choose the day on which they are
Decide which member of staff is responsible for supervising
the intern. Consider how the appointment of an intern will affect other
members of staff?
Decide what time you want an intern to arrive each morning.
Consider that they might not have a key or security pass and may need to be
escorted by other members of staff.
Are you going to offer to pay the intern’s travel, lunch
or other expenses?
Contact one of the agencies below. They will probably have a
form to fill in and want to visit your office to fulfil health & safety
The agency will contact you with the details of an intern.
They will usually want to make an appointment for you – and if possible,
the MP – to meet the intern at this time.
In advance of meeting the prospective intern for the first
time, decide what questions to ask and what work you are likely to ask them
to do in case they query you on this at that time.
If for any reason you don’t wish to take on that specific
intern, let the agency know as quickly as possible to give them time to find
Final preparations. Ensure the intern’s workload is
organised in advance. The agency will normally organise the security pass
application although you will need to have a spare allocation.
What kinds of tasks can you give to an
You never really know the abilities and
initiative an intern has until they start working for you. Whatever tasks you
give an intern, try to make sure you are not giving them things to do that will
increase your workload or that of your colleagues. You can train interns to
perform a number of routine tasks, allowing them to manage their own workload.
Mailing, photocopying, filing and general admin.
Typing up press releases, casework responses etc.
Information retrieval – from library/internet etc
Identifying contentious points in consultation documents
Note-taking at meetings
Data Protection implications
interns are going to deal with constituency casework, or other kinds of personal
information, then Members should ask them to sign an agreement which authorises
them to handle personal information on the Member's behalf. Otherwise,
because they are not employees, they will not have the legal authority.
There's a sample agreement on p32 of the Data Protection booklet, which is now on
the public parliament website. (Advice for Members and their staff: Data
Protection Act 1998. Personal Information about
constituents and others.) The
website address is
and here's a copy of the confidentiality agreement:
Confidentiality agreement for signature by volunteers,
interns, agency and contract staff etc
I undertake to preserve the
confidentiality of any information which may be acquired by me in the
course of my activities supporting the office of _____________________
MP. I understand that while supporting the Members’ office I may have
access to personal information about others. I undertake to act only on
the instructions of the Member when handling this information, and to
observe the data protection principles as set out in the Data Protection
I undertake not to publish or otherwise
disclose any such information to any third party, or to use it for any
purpose, unless authorised by the Member. I expressly acknowledge that
these undertakings will continue to have effect after my activities in
the Member’s office have ceased.
Signed ____________________________________ Date
What can you do for an intern?
Try to make the experience as fulfilling as
possible for an intern. This enhances the reputation of your office. Here are
some suggestions of things you can do.
Try to arrange a meeting of the intern with the office staff
in advance of their first day – perhaps over a drink?
Make sure the first day’s work is prepared in advance
Arrange ticket for PMQs
If they have been helping prepare a speech – try to get
them into the Gallery when it is given.
Is the MP available to be shadowed by the intern for a day
Think about how you are helping them to integrate with the
social life at Westminster.
Is the range of tasks broad and interesting?
Is the intern preparing any coursework with which you can
How will you say thank you when the intern leaves?
Will you keep in touch when they have gone?
How will you feed back to the intern you assessment of their
performance before they leave?
Try to prepare a reference before you are asked for one.
We asked the Serjeant at Arms Department for
clarification about numbers of interns. Here
is their guidance (revised 2 March 2006):
Member is entitled to Palace of Westminster photo-identity passes for more than
three individual members of their personal staff. A total of 150 passes in any
calendar year, and up to 50 at any one time may be issued to Members temporary
research assistants from overseas whose period of employment is expected to be
less than four months and who are sponsored by an approved institution of higher
education. Members are permitted to have one temporary overseas student working
for them at a time
they must use one of their three allocated passes mentioned above)
to ensure that as many Members as possible are able to take
advantage of this opportunity. This does not affect the right of Members to
employ foreign nationals as secretaries, or as research assistants, on a
Where can I get an internship?
Here are some suggestions of places to start
looking; this is by no means a comprehensive list. You will need to
satisfy yourself that the conditions of internships arranged with these
organisations are suitable for your situation.
If you have other useful information on this topic please tell us, using
Programmes Abroad Executive Office
"Work in an
exciting and challenging internship in the field of your choice that
helps you gain self confidence, new skills, valuable work experience,
and an outstanding résumé. Study
academic courses taught at local universities that broaden your
perspective and nurture your personal growth. Upon successful completion
you may earn 4 credits per course and 8 credits for the internship.
Explore new ways of thinking and living that
deepen your knowledge and understanding of different cultures as well as
international, political, and economic issues."
University – London Placements
"Each semester, Boston University
British Programmes offers a variety of academic options, striving to
provide students with challenging courses, stimulating professional
internships and rich cultural experiences."
School of Economics
1998 LSE has matched postgraduate students with
Parliamentarians for part time internships whilst they
study. Internships usually take place during term time from
October to March every year and are open to students from
all disciplines including departments such as Law,
International Relations, Economics, Development Studies, the
European Institute and, of course, the Government
request an LSE intern please visit the website and complete
a simple form by clicking
have submitted this form a manageable number of CVs will be
sent to you and from these candidates you can select those
you would like to interview and then host. Throughout the
internship you and your intern will benefit from the support
of the LSE Internships Coordinator, should you require it.
information about LSE Internships please visit our website
Information for organisations
or contact me using the contact Sharon Bray – 020 7852 3663
"CAPA International Education
offers quality, affordable study abroad programs, consisting of academic
classes and internships. Our mission has remained unchanged since our
start: to provide learning abroad opportunities which genuinely educate
students about the people and culture in which they are learning in a
holistic educational environment."
Westminster Hull Internship Programme (WHIP)
increasingly crowded graduate marketplace, having a good degree is not
enough. Today’s employers not only expect their graduate entrants to
exhibit a wide range of interpersonal and transferable skills, but also
to have experience in the workplace. The Department of Politics and
International Studies offers a route through which students can obtain
this vital experience. We offer a
year long placement in Westminster on the four year course
British Politics and Legislative Studies (BPLS). In addition, we
offer an exciting
One semester internship for all our Single Honours undergraduates.
This one semester scheme covers internship at Westminster or with an MEP
Brussels (at the European Parliament). It is a unique opportunity to
get a top quality academic education in politics alongside invaluable
"Our Internship programs combine a 4 week
English course with a professional internship placement in an area of
your interest. Full-time internship placements are available
in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Ireland. Part-time
internship placements are offered at our English schools in the United
States. We are able to offer a wide range of professional internship
placements to enable you to gain work experience in an English speaking
workplace and to help you add an international dimension to your CV."
"Demos runs an internship programme
that seeks to provide successful candidates with the invaluable
experience of working in an exciting and challenging think tank
environment. Interns will have the opportunity to engage in a wide
variety of Demos' activities. Demos offers several internship
programmes: Research; Media/Communications; Adio/Visual; Work
Social Market Foundation
"The SMF offers a programme of internships to
highly motivated individuals seeking work experience in a public policy
environment. Internships at the SMF are unpaid positions (travel
expenses only), normally lasting for between six weeks and three months,
and would be best suited for those who have just completed university or
post-graduate studies, though we do consider applications from all
backgrounds. We aim to provide our interns with a balanced work
experience during their time at the SMF, and you will normally be
involved in at least one major project, in addition to providing
research assistance to our regular researchers and assisting in general
think tank administrative duties."
Institute for Public Policy
"ippr offers internship opportunities throughout the year. We are
committed to providing a stimulating work experience for people
interested in social and political issues. Interns are a valued part of
the organisation and as far as possible are given a wide variety of
tasks and responsibilities including a combination of research and
administrative tasks. We seek to ensure our internships are open
to a wide range of candidates and as
part of our commitment to encourage diversity, all interns will be paid,
those based in our London office will
be paid the London living wage. Those in the ippr north office
will be paid the Newcastle equivalent. We also occasionally offer
internships in the ippr External Affairs Team. These internships can
involve helping to organise ippr events (anything from internal seminars
to events at party conferences), assisting in the press office and
There's now a website run by Interns for
Network. It's full of useful information. Their url
here to go to the Interns' Network own page on w4mp
Standard Note - Minimum
In May 2012 the Commons Library revised a
Standard Note (SN00697) on the
"Minimum Wage: Volunteers". This includes a section on
Further help may be available from the National Minimum
Wage Helpline on 0845 6000 678.
at our short guide for foreign nationals wishing to work for an
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best to provide reliable up-to-date information here. If you spot any
mistakes of know of useful additions please let us know, using the website’s Feedback
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