Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw is offering internships at his Westminster office to students from the University this summer.
The former Labour cabinet minister, who is seeking re-election in 2015, will give second year politics or international relations students duties including “policy casework, research, diary management and dealing with the press.”
The unpaid position is being run in conjunction with the College of Social Sciences, in an attempt to further student learning.
The two-month long placement will be offered between mid June and early September to students capable of working in a fast-paced environment with sensitive information, who are “sympathetic” to Labour Party values.
It is one of a number of initiative that Bradshaw runs, having been in the seat for nearly 16 years.
The 53-year-old said: “I try to offer short periods of work experience (not more than a week or two) to as many local school and college students as possible – in both my Exeter and London offices. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more demand than we have the capacity to manage.
It’s about the experience and insight gained by the students on the parliamentary placement scheme. We’ve had some very good and motivated Exeter undergraduates through the office on the scheme, who’ve made a useful contribution, but they’d probably admit that after just 2 months they’re still learning.”
Imogen Watson, a fourth year French and Politics student who has completed an internship in Bradshaw’s Westminster office said: “Spending a summer in Ben’s office was a fantastic eye-opener into the world of professional politics; I enjoyed every minute and would love to go back. Every day was a different set of challenges and Ben was incredibly accommodating, letting me shadow him and experience things I’d never have been able to otherwise.”
Though the University department will contribute towards travel and food, the position is officially unpaid, which raises some ethical questions given the controversy surrounding the ethics of unpaid internships.
Bradshaw is aware of such concerns and said: “I don’t use unpaid interns or people for longer than a couple of weeks unpaid as a matter of principle, unless, as is the case with the Exeter University scheme, they are placed with me as a formal part of their education or course, in which case we pay them what we can under the IPSA rules for food and travel on top of whatever help they get from their university.”
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