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IEA Summer Internship

Following on from the IEA Budget Challenge competition earlier in the year, Oli, George, Sam and Will were invited to take part in a week's internship in the summer. Will tells us what a hugely rewarding experience it was.

From 19th to 23rd July Oli, Sam, George and I took part the Institute of Economic Affairs’ summer internship programme. We all got places on the internship after reaching the final of the budget challenge the IEA ran back in the winter term. Turning up on the first day of the internship none of us were sure what to expect as this was our first experience at a think tank.

The first day focused on getting to know the other students on the internship as we would be spending the week with them. Some initial ice breakers were followed with all us being put into separate groups. Each group were assigned a debate and which side they would be arguing for. The debates varied from whether UBI should be implemented in the UK to whether social media companies should ban users for ‘hate speech’. We worked on our questions in our groups preparing for the debates which would be held at the end of the week.

The second, third and fourth day mainly consisted of lectures from the staff at the IEA. Although there were a lot of lectures, the topics covered varied enormously. There were some on the typical issues like government debt and the minimum wage but also lectures about completely different things. For example, Patrick Mackintosh gave a lecture about his journey on biking through Russia and his experience of both the geographical and economic landscape in the country. There were also political lectures about the rise of populism and millennial socialism meaning there were topics for everyone. Some of the lectures were quite complicated and therefore after each speaker finished there was a 30 minute Q&A where we could ask questions or challenge points that were made. We also had overviews from each department at the IEA to give us an insight into what it was like working there and what the different roles were at the think tank.

The last day was when the debates between the interns took place. Each debate lasted about 15 minutes and then there was a vote from the floor to see which side won overall but also to see which side made people change their mind the most. Julian Jessop listened to all the debates and then gave feedback to each team. After the debates finished we finished off with a pub quiz in our groups and then awards from the debates but also for the week as a whole.

Oli: “What a cracking experience. Absolutely brilliant group of chaps. My favourite being Charles. Although I did wipe the floor with him in the final debate yet was robbed of best debater.”

Sam: “I loved the IEA. From minute one we were made to feel welcome. Each day was filled with interesting lectures and the debates were a good way to end the week.”

George: “I thought the IEA was great. I really liked it and had loads of fun. I also made friends for life with other interns. It was fantastic, 10/10. Brittany who managed the week also made us feel welcome from minute one.

Will: “Overall I thought the week was fantastic. We got to meet a group fascinating speakers. As well as this we also met other interesting interns most memorably Charles, who had a particular obsession with Margaret Thatcher.”