“Intern” is not a word with hugely positive connotations. When people think of a stereotypical intern, they think of a browbeaten rookie, caught in an endless cycle of coffee-runs and filing, someone who’s never met their boss and would be terrified if they did. I think anybody starting a job under the title “intern” probably feels a bit nervous – I certainly did. I’ll admit, I was worried that it would impact on how seriously my colleagues would take me.
Another word with pretty negative connotations is “tax” – and I was going to be working in tax strategy. When I’d applied for the post it had seemed like a good idea at the time, but as my first day drew closer, I got more and more worried about the number-crunching aspect, not to mention the cliché that the only people less popular than traffic wardens, work in tax.
As it turns out, I really needn’t have worried at all!
From my first day, I have been welcomed into a dynamic and open team environment. Everybody, including senior members of staff, has taken time to introduce themselves and get to know me. I have never felt like a rookie and I certainly haven’t ever been asked to make a coffee! The people I work with are engaged and enthusiastic, but are always willing to take time out of their (extremely busy) schedules to have a chat and make sure I’m getting on OK. They certainly don’t fulfil the taxman stereotype.
So, what have I been doing if I haven’t been making the coffee? The answer is – a lot!
My main role is in policy support, which covers a great deal in itself. I work towards investigating policy issues and providing useful solutions and briefings for my team. These are also used to brief Ministers and can contribute to the political debates and speeches. I also help out with answering questions from the public on all kinds of tax-related issues.
The topics for my policy work are really varied: one day I’ll be reading up on tax-free savings to help out a colleague, and the next I’ll be wading through piles of EU legislation to inform a parliamentary debate. I’ve also been working a lot with stakeholders, which is great, because it allows me to get out and understand the effects that my team’s work is having more widely. I’ve learned a lot about event management as well, through organising various conferences and other events. One of the first questions which I was asked when I got here was “What do you want to get from your time here?” and since then, my team have been really helpful in getting me involved in all kinds of interesting projects and events. I’ve been really lucky to be given a lot of challenging work, in the context of such a supportive team.
It’s pretty exhilarating to sit in parliament and know that my work contributed to the events which will be covered in tomorrow’s newspapers. I also get a great feeling of satisfaction (and relief!) from seeing events which I’ve worked hard to organise coming together with successful results. But overall, what I like best about my job, is knowing and seeing that every piece of work I do contributes to something larger and will continue to have effects for many years. You know what they say – the only two things which are certain in life are death and taxes. Everything I do in the course of my work is aimed at setting up a Scottish tax system which will be in place and will be a part of people’s lives for many years.
The whole experience has given me career direction and motivation, but also skills which will be useful to me in the future.
Adopt an Intern Alumni
Scottish Government Intern
Strategic Development – Revenue Scotland, Fiscal Responsibilities Team