A University of Bedfordshire Master’s graduate has landed a paid-internship role in the office of the Labour leader, Ed Miliband.
Mary Browne, who graduated from the MA International Journalism course in November, had already secured the nine-month position on the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements Scheme prior to her postgraduate ceremony last month.
The programme is designed to ‘tackle the culture of unpaid internships’.
And Mary has an administrative role, where she deals with Mr Miliband’s correspondence.
Describing her excitement of her first day and working in such an illustrious position, Mary said: “The first time I met Ed Miliband, I felt like a teenage girl.
“I walked into my office early in the morning and he was just standing there. He just turned round to me and went ‘Hello, you’re a new face, who are you?’
“I just thought: ‘Oh my God, I’ve just shaken hands with Ed Miliband and now I’m talking to him’.
“In my position I have to read each letter and decide how it’s going to be replied to. I actually write the replies and my name goes on the bottom.
“It’s such a good opportunity. I love politics so this is a dream come true.”
Mary says the catalyst for fulfilling this dream was the University.
“Five years ago, I would never have even filled in that application form. Going to university has changed my life.
“I come from being a mum of four, having spent most of my life looking after children. At 35, I had to start all over again.
“I then progressed through to get this degree (BA Journalism and Public Relations) and this Master’s and did really well at them. My degree and my MA at the University of Bedfordshire have helped my self-confidence.
“I got a scholarship to do my master’s because I got a first-class degree, and then I got a distinction in my master’s, all those things are on my CV now. And now I’ve got a nine-month internship in Ed Miliband’s office.
“Of course you’ve got to prove yourself but those things are what employers are looking for.”
“I am delighted to congratulate Mary Browne for her successful application to the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme,” said Mr Bercow. “I am thrilled that she has decided to pursue a career in politics and I look forward to welcoming her to the House of Commons in due course.
“Mary’s achievements reflect the importance both of widening participation in Higher Education and of broadening access to work experience in Parliament. I wish her all the very best for the future.”
What of the future for Mary, who has to balance both her family life and her newfound professional one?
“Nearly everybody who’s been on this scheme for the last three years has ended up with a full-time position here,” she said. “Some people have got jobs working for their MP.
“I’m finding it really difficult to keep up with [everything] and the children. I’m really struggling with the commute, with the kids.
“It’s little things like that but I’m not going to let them get in the way of the fantastic opportunity that I’ve got. If I could find something that was three days a week here, then that would be great.”
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