Life as an intern

Life as an intern

The Wilton Park Intern programme, which later expanded to include appointments of Research Associates (RAs) and thereafter Programme Development Associates (PDAs), has been running for over seven years. Since 2010 over forty Interns, RAs and PDAs have worked with us. In July 2017, two of our previous PDAs were promoted (via open competition) into two newly created Assistant Programme Director posts.

Wilton Park works with the FCO and colleagues to provide support across Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) to fulfil British strategic foreign policy and related national objectives – by providing a neutral, discreet and professional vehicle for convening opinion formers and policy makers from around the world. Our goal is to address and resolve issues critical to the national security and prosperity of Britain and her allies, and as a consequence, to project British values and influence. As a result, our Interns and now PDAs have the opportunity to work on a diverse set of issues and programmes. The skills they gain and the interests they acquire tend to be equally diverse – often meaning that they go on to do a variety of different things after their time with us.

We are very lucky to be able to work with, help develop and so benefit from the skills and passions of an immensely talented group of people – it’s wonderful to hear, having recently caught up with a number of our previous Interns, RAs and PDAs, what they’re doing now; we think it’s fair to say, Wilton Park has its own cohort of advocates and ambassadors for UK foreign policy.

Megan, 2017 Intern

“My internship at Wilton Park has been the best possible way for me to transition from international relations in academia to international relations as a profession. The breadth of policy areas that I was able to work on, from marine litter to sub-Saharan trade relations to nuclear security architecture, gave me an excellent introduction to current foreign policy and international affairs.

Not only was the work itself interesting, but my professional development over the course of my months working here has been invaluable. My office skills, writing style, ability to communicate and confidence have all improved in a way that will certainly equip me for future positions. The ethos of sincerely promoting self-improvement is also something that I’ve found to be different here to any other internship I had done previously. For example, I was encouraged to attend government networking events, shadow other departments to gain experience and to study diplomacy by completing a Diplomatic Academy qualification. I certainly feel that I gained as much as I offered.

Working with colleagues who are as patient and encouraging as they are experienced and professional is a rare opportunity, and Wilton Park is certainly somewhere I would recommend to anyone considering a career in policy.”

Tom, 2017 Intern

“Wilton Park provides a great opportunity to dive into a wide range of topical issues and contemporary concerns and opportunities facing the world today. Being able to learn and engage with experts in different topics every day was a constant source of intrigue and prevented constant opportunities to learn and develop a professional understanding of the issues at hand all within a friendly and cooperative environment.

The range of tasks and situations you might find yourself in as an intern also helps build an understanding of the processes involved in delivering events, working with stakeholders and gradually developing an insight into how organisations operate with each other.

The combination of professional development and diverse range of topics covered really is a brilliant opportunity for anyone looking to both develop themselves and continue building an understanding of the issues facing us today.”

Peter, 2016 Intern

“Wilton Park is a unique organisation, but the skills I practiced there are applicable to a range of different roles. This variety of experience has allowed me to learn about my strengths and weaknesses in professional life.”

Katherine, 2015 Intern

“My time at Wilton Park was truly enriching. With exposure to such a wide range of policy issues and high level international stakeholders, I learned a huge amount as both an intern and later as a Senior Programme Development Associate. Trusted with the responsibility to lead programmes end to end, I gained invaluable experience across programme development, funding applications, partnership building, report writing and monitoring & evaluation. A key highlight for me was introducing the Gender portfolio at Wilton Park. An area I’m very passionate about, taking a lead role in developing the programme, and writing the report, for this event was a unique opportunity to gain insight into the policy dynamics and build a network in this space. Now leading Unilever’s national Diversity & Inclusion agenda, I have been able to return to Wilton Park as an event participant!”

Andrew, 2015 Intern

“The experience I’ve had as an intern at Wilton Park over the last nine months has been truly amazing. The internship has offered me the chance to work on a wide range of issues in international policy with genuine responsibility and independence. Working at Wilton Park has allowed me to write concept notes on security issues in space, organise events with the Canadian High Commission on migration and citizenship, and interact with experts from all around the world. At times, the role has been challenging but always rewarding and I have learned more than I ever imagined in my short time here.

As an organisation, Wilton Park has brought together an incredible group of people, whose patience and friendliness has supported me throughout my time here. The beautiful setting in the South Downs is only made more stunning by the openness and warmth of my colleagues, all of whom helped give me an insight into the operations, delivery and strategy that underpin all of Wilton Park’s work.

Career development is a core part of the internship, and my dedicated mentor as well as my line manager and team have been hugely supportive in helping me secure my next post as a women’s rights volunteer in Ghana. Although it is sad to be leaving, I’m certain the skills, experience and knowledge that Wilton Park has allowed me to develop will be invaluable in any future role.”