By Élizabeth Bergeron

I met my fellow interns of the 2021–2022 cohort of the Parliamentary Internship Programme for the first time in front of the Confederation Building. Each one of us was more impatient than the next to kick off this unique experience.

We were all really looking forward to the next 10 months, which will be an emotional yet tremendously formative period in our lives.

Programme director Paul Thomas eased our initial stress about being in a new working environment by giving us a warm, enthusiastic welcome and inviting us to start day one of orientation. After a quick round table, where we talked about our motivations for joining the program and ambitions going forward, we were given an overview of the program and a guided tour of the Parliamentary Precinct. At the end of the day, we went home happy and proud to be part of such a wonderful team, which, despite its diversity, shared a common passion for Canadian politics.

The next few weeks of orientation and introduction to the parliamentary system were done through virtual meetings due to the pandemic. We met with the programme’s sponsors and with renowned political science professors and learned about the many inner workings of the House of Commons. We also got to meet the Library of Parliament interns and talked about our respective internships and expectations to date.

One of the best parts about the orientation was without a doubt the Senate day. In the morning, we met with the Usher of the Black Rod and a few people from the Communications Directorate. Then, we wrapped up the day nicely by attending a panel on the importance of the Senate in the modern world, which featured three senators.

The Parliamentary Internship Programme has existed since 1970 and has over 500 former interns, many of whom are more than willing to volunteer their time. Through their interesting stories and tremendous support, they have proven to be great allies for us budding interns.

In between training sessions, we continued to meet with the program’s many sponsors in an interview setting, since we needed to complete a 5-week internship with one of them while awaiting the start of the new Parliament. Deciding which one to join was difficult because they all offered wonderful, ambitious projects.

The discussions that we had during orientation were very enriching and filled with wisdom. This precious advice will not be lost on us when we are placed with MPs; rather, it will help us make sure that we are more ready than ever to tackle that challenge head on.

All interns are honoured to be able to have such a unique work experience. This year will certainly be unforgettable!