Universiteit Leiden

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‘My internship has taught me to look around me a bit more sometimes’

Public Administration student Iris did an internship at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. During her internship, she dealt with election accessibility.

Why did you do an internship?

Iris: ‘After two years of studying, I wanted to do something different. I also wanted to find out what I thought of my future work field. Do I want to work at a ministry when I'm done with my studies? I hoped an internship would give me an insight into my future career.’ 

What were your tasks during your internship?

‘During my internship, I was part of the team elections where I dealt with election accessibility. Here, I focused on how to improve accessibility. For this purpose, I organised six meetings in different parts of the Netherlands. The purpose of these meetings was to engage in a dialogue with municipality officials, interest groups and experts. They could learn from each other about how accessibility is dealt with in different municipalities.’ 

What did you personally learn about accessibility in elections that you didn't know before this internship?

‘I think I learned more about accessibility in general. When I stand at the tram stop in the morning, I always see the blind guideline and now, I try to not stand on it anymore. A lot of people still do that and don't know this line is crucial for someone who is visually impaired.  My internship has taught me to look around me a bit more sometimes.  I notice these things more now because I have been working on the theme. You just have a lot more eye for a bit more accessibility.’ 


Do you have a moment during your internship that has stayed with you?

‘The regional meetings have stayed with me the most. I organised these myself and you work towards such a moment for months. I thought that first event was super cool, and it was nice to see that what I had in my head for months finally became reality. In addition, I got to take notes at several ministerial debates. My first debate was in the Senate; it was an exciting debate because it was about a bill that had to be passed on that day. Otherwise, they wouldn't have enough time to make it possible before the elections.  During such a debate, you get to experience the whole 'show' and that was nice to see.’ 

What was a challenge during your internship?

‘At the university you are in a study mode. During an internship, you enter a work environment, and everyone is used to a certain way of doing their job. It took me some time at the beginning to get used to that. Something else that was a challenge was the contact with the different interest groups. It was a challenge to find a good balance between how often you speak to which interest group. Of course, you don't want a conflict of interest.’ 

Would you recommend internships to other students?

 ‘One hundred percent. I think it's nice to learn what you like and what you don't like at all. Also, through an internship you can easily look into the working world. After that, you can get out again, which is not that easy when you start a job somewhere. When you don't have a nice internship, you also have the prospect of an end date.’  

Text: Annemieke van Es 

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