My STEP project was a study abroad internship coordinated by the Office of International Affairs at The Ohio State University. The Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program was based in Ottawa, Canada. During this internship, I interned for a member of Canadian Parliament. I researched various topics for my MP as well as did typical intern tasks such as answer phones and emails.
My understanding of myself changed because I found out that I was more interested in politics than I originally thought. This was almost my first internship so I learned about how I react in a work environment. I learned that I have a lot to learn when it comes to how governments work and the issues that are important to them. During my project, I also learned a lot about Canada. Americans always take Canada for granted. However, Canada is America’s largest trading partner and close ally.
An event during my STEP study abroad trip that was transformational was our road trip to Quebec. It was my first ever road trip without my family as well as the longest road trip I have ever been on. On the drive to Quebec, I saw what Canada’s farmland and forests looked like which was new since I have only ever been to cities in Canada. As we drove into the province of Quebec, I really felt like we had travelled to a different country. During my time in Quebec, I realized the independence I had in a different country and that I was quickly becoming a responsible adult.
The interactions that changed me during my STEP experience were the ones I had with the people who worked in my office. The two permanent office workers for my MP’s office were both very passionate and committed to their jobs. They worked late hours and always made sure they did the job right. They were also more than happy to answer my questions. My Member of Parliament was even more inspiring. She worked with constituents in her riding in Vancouver during the weekends but spent the work week in Parliament in Ottawa. Her children lived in Vancouver but she made a point to spend as much time as she could with them. She was also very dedicated to her job. She worked long hours, always putting her constituents before herself and her wants.
One meaningful relationship that I developed while I was on my study abroad trip was my friendship with the other girl from Ohio State who also worked in my office. We were the only two students from Ohio State who worked in the same office. We walked to work together every day, helped each other out with our assigned tasks, and went to receptions after work together as well. We spent a lot of time together and became good friends during the time that we were there. If it wasn’t for this STEP experience, I probably would have never met her.
The activities that were the most transformational that I participated in were the receptions after work. There was an average of about three per week. Different members of parliament and senators went to these events and I enjoyed meeting some of them. I learned about a lot of different charities as well as businesses who were interested in communicating with the elected government officials.
My Step experience was more beneficial than I thought it would be to my future. I learned many valuable skills that I would have never had the opportunity to learn elsewhere. I experienced what it was like to work in a professional environment for the first time and I know my experience anywhere wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable or educational. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in this program because of STEP.