When your Internship Makes National News; a memoir |#5

I am not new to internships, I have had them since my first semester as a university student. I never stopped hoping with each experience that it would be better, that I would learn more, that the organization would be flawless. I prayed that each internship would bring me to a new place, that I would meet important people in fields that interested me and that I would be able to speak genuinely about my good experience in an interview. Reflecting on my internship in New Zealand, I think the question I would be best suited to use this experience for is “what is something you have overcome?” or “what is an adverse situation you overcame?.”

In my past four posts I have only detailed my experiences with the Labour Party in a positive light, and I really did accomplish what I came to do. I did meet multiple politicians who told me about their careers, I worked intimately with a campaign in Maungakiekie that I know will be successful and will allow another Labour MP to sit in parliament. I went across the world and I truly believe I had an impact. I was able to travel across New Zealand and into Australia and I was able to speak knowingly about the political climate with citizens across Auckland.

The organization of my internship was however, precarious at best. The logistics of the number of interns arriving and what their jobs would be when they arrived was almost non-existent. As interns we lived on a marae, which is basically the equivalent of a Native-American longhouse. Over 70 interns slept on foam mattresses in a massive room, and as interns we were responsible for ensuring that there were mattresses. We also spent a lot of time building plastic-like cubicles to ensure some sort of privacy. New interns arrived everyday and we had to deal with the challenge of finding a place for them to sleep. Many did not meet the top supervisors as they came in, and some interns left immediately after seeing the living conditions. There were only two showers for 80 people to use on the property, but thankfully the marae was in close proximity to a university campus where one could use a clean shower and get some much needed exercise to destress! This situation was not the worst it could possibly be, we did have some form of shelter and access to running water and we did receive proper nourishment.

It was not long before news of our situation in New Zealand managed to make it on national news, and our poor living conditions were broadcasted live. The Labour party suffered severe losses due to this bad publicity, and mention of it has even made an appearance in the New York Times. The program was shut down the week that my time was up, and was taken over by the general secretary of the party. I am happy to say that now, because interns such as myself and others spoke up about the disorganization, there is a better situation for the Americans who arrived later. Interns are now living in the homes of MP’s, many have gone to the capital to work in parliament, and others are working closely with Jacinda, the newly elected leader of the party (just eight works before the election!). If we had allowed for the disorder to persist I don’t know what would have happened. I don’t regret any of the time I spent in New Zealand, and I believe that I’ve grown as an individual through the adversity I encountered.

I realize that reading this sounds crazy and almost unrealistic, and at times that was how it felt. I can only thank my campaign manager Jesse for allowing me and my team to have the best possible experience, and to take part in electing a candidate that truly represents the people.

 

New Zealand National News References on Living Situation:

 

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/93955534/labour-party-brings-in-unpaid-overseas-students

http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/unpaid-unhappy-and-over-here-labour-s-intern-scandal-explained

http://politik.co.nz/en/content/politics/1124/Labour-Party-volunteer-workers-rebel-over-living-conditions-Labour-party-Matt-McCarten-Andrew-Kirton.htm

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/06/labour-under-fire-for-sweat-shop-student-scheme.html

 

New York Times Article on new party leadership and situation:

 

 

 

 

Emily Y

I'm entering my fourth year at the University of Michigan studying International Studies and German Studies. I'm currently a campaign fellow with the New Zealand Labour Party

One thought on “When your Internship Makes National News; a memoir |#5

  • August 21, 2017 at 5:14 pm
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    Great post Emily!

    Reply

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