Now that I am almost two months into my internship (already!), can I describe what a typical day looks like ? Truth is, there has not been a “typical day” as things are constantly shifting. The bells that ring on a daily basis to signal a vote or start to another day – yes there are actual bells – are a reminder of this fact. But, hopefully I can share a few recounts of the past (almost) 8 weeks of life at the ‘lege (short for legislature), somewhat in chronological order.
It’s two days after Labour Day – the day that I’d been looking forward to for sometime. I was nervited – nervous and excited – for this next chapter. I remember arriving a good half an hour before the designated start to Day 1 of orientation. I had time to grab a coffee and sit in the park area, adjacent to the entrance of parliament, trying to take in the moment. Us ten OLIP interns finally met for the first time also! Although it was a 3-day work week, filled with paperwork, discussions, and covering logistics, its intensity had me set for a hibernating weekend rest.
Our first major task as a cohort was determining our respective committee duties. Each intern has the opportunity to chair to an OLIP committee for the duration of the internship. We were able to decide together which committee each person would lead, and which committee we would act as a Vice Chair. I am thrilled to be Chair of the Alumni Committee, which fuses my love of connecting with people, eventing planning, and program coordination together. With a network of over 300, OLIP has a wealth of knowledge to learn from, and that’s perhaps one of the most exciting parts of being this committee’s Chair. I am also the Vice Chair to the Magazine Committee. OLIP publishes a print and electronic magazine bi-annually. My former high school yearbook co-editor-in-chief self is excited to nerd out on this – I am most excited to hopefully get some creative juices flowing! I have a feeling this year’s magazines will be the best yet 😉
Meetings, oh so many meetings
If you were to ask me how many meetings I’ve been in since the start of OLIP, I would say I’ve honestly lost track. I would estimate that it’s somewhere between 70-100 (!!!) range. Who are we meeting with? The first while was with each office, division and branch of the ‘lege during orientation. We’ve learned all about the supporting pieces that assist the work of elected officials. As someone who appreciates understanding processes or “how” things work, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every meeting. We have also met with a number of Independent Officers, program alumni, program sponsors, and academics. Of course, we have also met with MPPs (members of provincial parliament) – more to follow below. I think what has me in awe the most, still, is how receptive and generous individuals and groups have been with their time. What a rare privilege it is to have the opportunity to sit down in an intimate setting and to ask questions with each of these super stars.
Hitting up receptions
One of the perks of working at the ‘lege is having the opportunity to attend receptions. These are planned events by stakeholders’ in a variety of industries to connect with MPPs. Generally, they coincide with a meal during the day, so there can be three daily when MPPs are in session / the house is meeting (…although there can also be more at one meal time in difference spaces at the ‘lege, but this is rare). The obvious upside is free food – v. much appreciated by us interns – which I think is a universal way of enticing anyone to come out to a meet-up. But, it’s also an incredible opportunity to learn about, and from, groups and organizations in Ontario in diverse areas that I may have not personally previously been aware of. My favourite receptions have actually been during the lunch period (although the evening ones do carry delish food!). The “lunch and learn” type of environment the midday receptions have is an absolute treat for me.
Fun fact: receptions are also called Advocacy or Lobby Days.
Interviewing MPPs (!!!)
This type of meeting deserves its own section of reflection. A major component of the program is working with elected officials. How does it all work? Well, the roles are a bit reverse, such that the interns have the opportunity to interview MPPs to inform their decision in who they would like to work with, rather than the MPP interviewing their prospective intern. The experience of sitting down with each interested MPP – there were 40+ we met – was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The ten of us decided on our questions and squeezed all of the interviews into a range of two weeks. We managed to do it somehow, and I don’t think it’s something I’ll forget soon. Not only was it interesting to observe each person’s take on our questions, it was also a wonderful way to learn more about each of them personally including their journey to becoming an MPP. I have the utmost respect for anyone that takes that leap into public office, the challenges faced and decisions made are no easy task.
First Placement Confirmed
One of the most anticipated moments for me, as well as the other interns, was definitely learning who we would be placed with. Integral to the program is the opportunity to work with both a member of the governing party as well as an opposition. I am excited to share, officially, that I am placed with MPP Laura Mae Lindo of Kitchener-Centre for my first half of the internship. MPP Lindo is a part of the Official Opposition – the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Ontario. She is also the NDP Critic for Anti-Racism and Critic for Citizenship and Immigration Services. For the next 4 months, I will be working alongside MPP Lindo and her staff to support policy research, drafting write-ups for correspondences etc. I’ll also have the opportunity to visit her riding during a constituency week. I am unable to publicly announce where my government party placement will be yet, but I am thrilled for both MPP placements!
Each day is memorable, and I mean that in the most honest way possible. But, if I had to list off (I love lists), I would say, these are the absolute best:
- Getting officially introduced in the House by the Speaker of the House and knowing that my name will be forever in the Hansard (an official transcription of everything that is ever said in the House).
Some behind-the-scenes snaps from that day !!!
- Visiting the Archives of Ontario, which I believe was our first mini-trip as a cohort. It was a pleasure learning about how important pieces of documents and other materials are maintained (I.e. how is history preserved?!)
- Meeting each of Independent Officers in Ontario! Some of the kindest and most knowledgeable people ever. There’s too many to name, but they play an important role in our democracy – they range from privacy to financial accountability!
Fun Fact: The Ombudsman (one of these independent offices) is also known as Ontario’s “watchdog”!!
- Running into OLIP alumni at every step of the journey along the way. Whether it’s staffers at the ‘lege or for stakeholders with groups visiting QP – OLIP-ers seem to be everywhere. I love gushing over their experience with the program.
- Spending orientation period and every Friday with great company! I’m full of gratitude that I am surrounded by some of the brightest, who I am proud to say I am a part of this year’s OLIP cohort.
That’s it for now. Cheers to the 8-ish months left of this journey!
Until next time,