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Interning for a Member of Parliament

August 7, 2009

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UAlbany public policy major Gina Geffrard in front of a red phone booth in England.

UAlbany public policy major Gina Geffrard has been an intern in the office of Member of Parliament Susan Kramer this summer. (Photo, courtesy of Gina Geffrard)

Interning in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which has influenced standards for democracies around the world, has given UAlbany student Gina Geffrard a new optimism about politics.

"I am actually still in London and although I can name a dozen things have been compelling, I think the fact that there are still good politicians and good people trying to make this world better is just phenomenal," said Geffrard, a senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., and a public policy major with a concentration in public administration.

This fall she will take two courses in government at UAlbany. "So how intriguing will it be when we have discussions and I am comparing a Senate bill to a House of Commons law? Also, working in a global city and with one of the most renowned governments on earth will make me stand out to future employers and graduate schools."

On her first day as an intern, Geffrard witnessed Prime Minister's  Question Time, essentially a debate between the Prime Minister and opposing parties. Assigned as a political assistant to Member of Parliament Susan Kramer, she worked during the European elections, knocked on doors, and attended a debate on abortion rights in Northern Ireland.

Geffrard applied for the internship through the Foundation for International Education, the academic portion of her program. When she saw the internship offerings, she knew right away she wanted to work in Parliament. "The process seems easy but I worked very hard to get the internship and cried when I found out I got it," said Geffrard.

The decision to study abroad during the summer was an easy one.

"I love UAlbany too much to go abroad during the semesters (I could miss something!)," she said. "Winter time was too short, so summer, especially this summer, felt like the perfect time."

She didn't want to miss out.

"Seeing as this is my last summer as an undergraduate, I wanted to do something big, something that would benefit me immensely for the future, change my life, and expose me to things I would not be able to see and do in Albany or even New York City. So I decided that I wanted to do an internship in London, England," said Geffrard.

There has been a 23 percent increase at UAlbany over 2008 in the number of students joining summer study abroad programs around the world. Through summer programs, students can study abroad from 3-10 weeks and earn academic credit. This summer 190 students, 80 percent of them UAlbany students, are in locations as diverse as the UK, China, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, and South Africa. Study abroad is administered by the Office of International Education.

Sakinah Smith, a junior communication major from Brooklyn, N.Y., studied in London for five weeks this summer through American Intercontinental University.

"The most compelling thing about my experience is realizing that America is NOT the whole entire world," said Smith. "Most teens and young adults don't realize how big the world really is, and I feel as though those who don't travel are more likely to feel that the world really does revolve around them." 

In her marketing research internship, she developed communications, business, and marketing research skills on an international level.

"Now if that's not impressive on a resume, then I don't know what is!" said Smith.

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