April UCC Parliamentary Internship report, Halyna Palichyuk
It’s been an incredible 8 months as UCC’s Parliamentary Intern working with Chrystia Freeland in her Parliament Hill office. I wanted to share some of my experiences and give you a sense of my work here in Ottawa.
Working on Parliament Hill means being constantly up-to-date about the latest news in Canada and around the world, especially since I’m working for MP Chrystia Freeland, who is Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. This also means knowing what the other MP’s are saying about her work. For me this involves constant monitoring of the media, social media and other sources.
Very often new challenges arise in foreign affairs, especially human rights related ones, and Chrystia needs to be able to react quickly. That’s why one of my main roles is to prepare research on the main issues before meetings, question period or press-conferences. I also attend different committee meetings and then report back on the discussions and topics raised.
Another important part of the job involves serving Canadians who contact Chrystia’s office with concerns, advice or to express gratefulness. Sometimes people just need somebody to talk to about their situation and help them find resources in their community. I help to manage phone calls and correspondence, which usually take a good part of the day. Here, I identify the need of the constituent and try to provide a solution, or readdress the inquiry to the relevant person or department.
Helping the public is a very rewarding part of the job. We received a few cute letters from grade 6 students, requesting the MP to answer “interview questions” as part of their school assignments. Another person asked for Minister Freeland`s photo with an autograph as a part of his collection.
I’ve also learned to work with databases and how to cooperate with other departments on various issues. For instance, when I was doing research on minority rights, I worked closely with the Library of Parliament. I am also working on creating of a database right now.
Working in Ottawa, in the Parliament of Canada, it is an enormous privilege requiring hard work and dedication, and occasionally there are opportunities to enjoy special celebrations as well. In December, I had a chance to attend a great Christmas party with the Prime Minister and many Members of Parliament. Right after Christmas break, I had been working for a month at the UCC office, promoting the UCC Parliamentary Internship program and creating the UCC Network of the Parliamentary Interns.
When I came back to the Parliament Hill again in February, I got a chance for professional development through a series of parliamentary seminars, such as “The Role of a Federal Ombudsperson”, “Speech Writing Fundamentals”, “PMB 101: Basic considerations for drafting Private member’s bill” and “Search Engine Optimization: How to increase your website’s visibility online”.
I attended Chrystia’s briefing in the Foreign Affairs Committee and her annual meeting with GAC employees. I also attended a few panels, one of which was “Women in politics and social media”. The 2018 Budget presentation in the House of Commons was another interesting experience.
It’s been a great year thus far – full of new knowledge, experience and friends. I met incredible people in Parliament and learnt a lot from Chrystia Freeland. I have just a few months left here in the office and I’m already starting to look at how I can build my future career here in Ottawa. I am very grateful to UCC and all the sponsors who supported me and this program, and I’m looking forward to helping train next year`s UCC Parliamentary Interns!