I have spent the last month (May 2021) in Belfast taking part in the Northern Ireland Politrip Internship. I am currently on a gap year, and I had originally planned to do a Politrip to the US in October 2020. However, when the pandemic made travel almost impossible, I was delighted to be able to take part in two virtual trips with Politrip during the Presidential election. I then signed up for a further US internship, but with US travel still looking uncertain, I have extended my trip here.
Working in the headquarters of the Alliance Party has allowed me to gain a far greater understanding of politics in Northern Ireland, which with its background of conflict resolution and power-sharing government, has a unique political climate. I have been doing a range of work from admin tasks on political organising software, to sitting in on party meetings and constituency calls, to working on policy changes for the Party Manifesto! Working closely with party staffers and representatives has given me insight into how a political party runs day-to-day, and the work that goes into an election from the local level upwards. Being able to appreciate first-hand the complexities of the political system in Northern Ireland has given me another frame of reference for political discourse which will benefit me studying Politics at university, and the contacts and experiences I have will undoubtedly help me in the future.
I have also had fantastic opportunities to explore Belfast, from the beautiful Botanic Gardens and Queen’s University just across from the office, to shopping and museums in the city centre. Being here for a month gives you ample time to get a great feel for Northern Ireland as a whole, and as a smaller country, you can easily visit anywhere in a day. There are great places to eat and drink, and beautiful scenery including beaches and mountains, not to mention the much cheaper cost of everything! Outside of time in Belfast, I have visited Derry/Londonderry (a must for any Derry Girls fans!!!), Portrush, the Giant’s Causeway, Bangor, the Antrim Coast, Ards Peninsula and the Mourne Mountains. And that’s all in four weeks!
If you’re worried about your travel plans this summer, or looking for an opportunity to gain work experience in politics, I highly recommend the Northern Ireland Politrip Internship. It’s an invaluable chance to live, work and travel in a great city whilst gaining relevant skills to help build your CV.
Politrip was an exciting opportunity to take my skills to the next level. Volunteering during the 2019 local elections allowed me to experience Northern Ireland on a deeper level. I enjoyed meeting with voters and hearing first-hand the complex debates surrounding the country today.
Off the campaign trail, I loved visiting Northern Ireland’s many landmarks and national treasures such as the famous Giant’s Causeway and the historic city of Belfast. Whether it was exploring the rolling green hills or a pub crawl with new friends, there was always something new and exciting to experience in Northern Ireland.
I highly recommend Politrip to anyone looking to jump into international politics. It allowed me to turn my skills and passions into something positive and useful. This, combined with a new land and culture to explore made my Politrip experience one I’ll never forget!