This year’s federal and provincial elections undoubtedly sparked political interest in many young people across Canada.
For aspiring speechwriters, staffers and members of Parliament, an internship at Queen’s Park in Ontario offers a look at how the government works.
TalentEgg spoke with former Queen’s Park intern, Veena Bhullar, for tips on landing a spot in one of the most prestigious internship programs in the country and what to expect when you’re chosen.
Veena has been politically active for years: a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s political science program, she is president of the Etobicoke North Young Liberals and Toronto Regional Co-ordinator of the Ontario Young Liberals (OYL).
She has also played a key role in numerous election campaigns, including one for Etobicoke North MP Kirsty Duncan.
“I’m a part of the OYL because I want to learn about the political process. While reading our newsletter, The Activist, I found out about the internship. I recognized it as a great opportunity to know even more,” Veena says.
From that point, she followed the same process required for every potential Queen’s Park intern.
“All you need is a cover letter, resumé and three references. The deadline to apply is in February. Then they hold phone interviews from the end of March to the start of April. I found out I was accepted the third week of April, through email,” she explains.
Veena says she believes she was selected for the internship because of her involvement with the OYL and strong application.
“Any political background is beneficial. If you have this, specify it in your cover letter. Many applicants are cut out after the resumé stage, so make sure you proofread every page and ensure that it flows well. Universities have offices where you can get your cover letter and resumé checked, and I’d recommend doing that. During the phone interview, be confident and get your answers across clearly.”
This past summer, she assisted the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. She didn’t get to pick the placement but was asked to list her preferences during the phone interview.
“The average person doesn’t realize how much revenue this area brings. It has a huge impact on the economy. My role included a lot of research and work on current projects. I helped with ministry approved funding and grants, which need to be divided by riding. The ministry needs to know how much funding each riding has gotten in Ontario. The Shaw Festival, the Royal Ontario Museum, all this falls into culture and tourism and requires a lot of funding.”
Interning at Queen’s Park means working alongside politicians, being in the heart of downtown Toronto and having a prestigious name on your resumé, but Veena insists there are also challenges.
“It was difficult for me to go from a federal perspective to a provincial. I hadn’t seen much of how the provincial government works, but I knew it was very different. Also, it’s very fast-paced there. You have to be on top of things. It’s important to know not just what you’re doing, but what everyone else is as well.”
Ultimately, she says her time at Queen’s Park helped her carve a path for the future. “I still haven’t decided exactly what role I’d like to play, but I discovered that I love politics.”