By Jessica Wilson, Wilton Park Policy Officer and former intern.
I started my internship with Wilton Park in December 2022, after completing my undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Birmingham and spending four months as an Administrative Officer at HMRC.
Moving into a policy role from administrative work felt like a big step, but the skills I learned in my degree and through various paid and unpaid work experiences set me up well for the internship. I’ve also benefitted hugely from the advice and encouragement of the rest of the policy department and the whole Wilton Park team. Any initial nervousness I had about not having a Master’s degree quickly dissipated; I’ve found that enthusiasm, communication skills and willingness to learn are the most important assets to have at Wilton Park.
I have been supported to undertake projects I’m really proud to have been a part of. One of the highlights has been attending and writing the report for our Road to Ukraine Recovery Conference event, at which the UK-Ukraine Digital Trade Agreement was signed by Kemi Badenoch and Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko. I was delighted to be trusted with being rapporteur for the event, and with the support of the team I didn’t feel out of my depth.
At Wilton Park I’ve been able to build my knowledge of particular policy areas. This has made my work very stimulating but will also come in handy as I start to plan my career. I developed a particular interest in illicit finance after working on ‘Driving Dirty Money Out of the UK’, and was able to build networks during the event that will allow me to gain more experience.
A great aspect of the internship is that, while I know I have a lot more to offer at Wilton Park, I have been encouraged to think about what might come next. I’ve been given excellent development opportunities, and every day I work with and learn from amazing people who are leaders in their fields. The senior staff at Wilton Park recognise that we are early in our careers and want to set us up for exciting futures.
It’s impossible to talk about Wilton Park without talking about Wiston House. Working at such a remote location does mean you seriously can’t forget to pack your lunch, but exploring the gorgeous house and grounds never gets old. There is a culture of sharing lifts as well as some on-site accommodation that makes life easier if you don’t have a car.
While a demonstrable interest in international affairs is crucial for anyone applying for a Wilton Park internship, soft skills like organisation, time management, good communication and the ability to engage with people positively are equally important. These skills can be gained through all sort of previous experiences that may not seem relevant initially. This, plus the supportive atmosphere, means interns from a range of different backgrounds could thrive at Wilton Park.