By Emily Stout
The Utah state legislature. The Washington seminar. Now students looking for legislative aide internships have another option: the Scottish parliament.
Since summer 2002, BYU students have traveled to Scotland to be interns to members of the newly formed parliament in Edinburgh.
“Most people know about Washington seminar or the London study abroad, but they don”t know about this one because it”s so new,” said Ben Miller, coordinator for the Scottish internship program.
The program began April 2002, when member of Scottish parliament (MSP) Brian Adam, also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visited BYU campus. Political science professor Dan Damron asked Adam if he was interested in having interns.
“I thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to work in a parliament that”s so brand new,” Damron said.
Opportunities for internships and study abroad programs are common, and other internships similar to this one are also an option. Wade Jacoby, director of the Center for the Study of Europe, said this program is unique because interns are heavily involved in the political process.
“There is no such thing as an internship like this in the U.S. Congress,” he said. “There [in the U.S. Congress] the intern is separated from the member of Congress by lots of other staff. In the Scottish parliament, our BYU interns may be the only staff-person the member has.”
Miller, who was the first student to go on the internship, said his duties were very substantial.
“I felt extremely involved,” he said. “I did a little answering the phone and all that clerical stuff, but mostly it was doing research and writing that was actually used for the politics that went on.”
Another former intern, BYU graduate John Nielsen, said it was interesting to see the workings of a parliamentary government.
“Wherever you work in the U.S., you”re still working within a frame of government that you”re very familiar with,” Nielsen said. “This was a really good opportunity to go and see what a multi-party system was like.”
Damron said the Scottish parliament is also different from the British parliament in Westminster. While the British parliament functions as a national legislature in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Scottish parliament is more like a state legislature, he said.
Nielsen and Miller both said the internship was a valuable experience.
“It gave me a very good introduction to the real world,” Nielsen said. “Life isn”t like school.”
Students who didn”t know about the internships still have a few more weeks to apply.
More information is available at http://kennedy.byu.edu/isp/internscotland.html.