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Daniel Craanen (MA International Security) at the Scottish Parliament in the United Kingdom

How did you look for an placement? What was your ‘search method’?

As most others in my group, I initially looked at government websites in search of placement opportunities. In addition, I went through lists online of prominent think-tanks and government organisations related to my field. After about two weeks I felt that the ‘proper’ method – going through a bureaucratic application procedure – yielded slow or no results. As such, I simply skipped the normal application procedure and e-mailed the Members of Parliament straight away with a short introduction, my resume and the promise that I’d call them in a week if I hadn’t gotten a reply. That worked – the fourth person I emailed took me on within hours.

What did you learn from the placement? For what reason do you think students should undertake an placement?

As the organizational culture at the Scottish Parliament is very informal overall, I was given a very reasonable deal of responsibility which allowed me to experience the workings of the parliament first-hand. As such, I learned much about the day-to-day workings of a MSP’s (Member of Scottish Parliament) office and the politics and alliances within the parliament itself – on a local as well as on an international level. As the tasks I was assigned varied greatly, I feel that I have obtained a very clear and complete picture of the structure and responsibilities of a devolved parliament, as well as improved skills in a variety of areas.

Daniel Craanen
Daniel Craanen

What did you like best?

I would say that I liked the informality and responsibility best. Of course you are still an intern, as with any other organisation, but I certainly felt that it was easy to approach superiors (any MSP, not only the one who supervised me), to ask them questions and to learn about their role and views, and that I was given a higher degree of responsibility as soon as I demonstrated ability, allowing me to learn more first-hand.

What would you do differently the next time you would do an placement?

Considering the field of my degree here in Groningen, I would rather have considered an organisation and office that dedicated more attention to international politics and security in particular. Obviously, with the independence campaign underway, most everyday attention was paid to the electorate across the various constituencies in Scotland instead of to international politics. Although my internship at the Scottish Parliament featured some of the above topics, I would have preferred an organization with a wider, more international, outlook overall.

What would you advise other students for their placement?

Overall I would advise you to start early, stay organized and be assertive. This may sound like common sense, but I believe these three things are paramount. In addition, during the placement I would suggest you quietly demonstrate your abilities rather than boast about your obtained skills and expertise. If you are considering an internship at the Scottish Parliament, please make sure you understand the role and responsibilities of the MSP you’re considering, as they all do things differently and all have a slightly different focus. One MSP may give you more responsibilities than another and constituencies’ needs in Scotland vary greatly.

Last modified:24 July 2018 11.02 a.m.