Internship - International policy advisor and lobbyist at LTO Nederland
Third year IR student Peter Meedendorp is currently doing an internship at the Brussels deparment of LTO Nederland as an intern international policy advisor and lobbyist. In this interview, he tells more about his experiences, how he got there and, moreover, he also gives some advice on internships.
Could you give us a short introduction of yourself? I am Peter Meedendorp, 20 years old and I am in my third year of International Relations in Groningen. I am currently doing an internship as an Intern International policy advisor and lobbyist at the Brussels department of LTO Nederland.
What does your current internship entail? The Netherlands Agricultural and Horticultural Association is an Employers' organization, representing over 35,000 agricultural entrepreneurs and employers, with a commitment to the economic and social position of its members. LTO serves as an advocate for Dutch Farmers.
My internship at LTO consists of a variety of tasks. I am supporting the Brussels office where I can. Something we are currently working on is the new Common Agricultural Policy 2020-2027. The European Parliament and Council had a vote on the new CAP recently and some political parties and groups encountered us to give our opinion on certain articles or amendments, as they wanted to know what the opinion of the agricultural sector was. We provided them with information on the CAP and our view of important amendments.
Moreover, my tasks consist of following the agricultural en environmental committees of the Parliament and Working Parties of the European agricultural umbrella organisation Copa, which puts me in a lot of contact with our European colleagues.
Furthermore, I am working on a research paper on the European Green Deal with the Farm-to-Fork strategy in particular. Trying to see the chance for the Dutch agricultural sector.
How did you find your internship? In the second year of the studies, I started thinking about the minor in the third year. I missed a more practical side to our academic studies, so I decided to fill my minor with an internship. Since I am very interested in agricultural policy and I am from a farm myself, the choice of an internship at LTO was quickly made, as it combines my interests for agriculture and international affairs. As all agricultural policy is a complete competence of the European Union, I decided to send an e-mail to the Brussels office. I sent my current internship supervisor an email with my CV and the question if they could use an intern. As a result, I received a phone call with the invitation for an interview.
What do you like most about your internship? What I like about my internship is that I can express my passion for it. My opinion is taken seriously and I can work on things that matter, such as the new CAP. The subjects are interesting and above all relevant. It's great to be able to look behind the screens of the discussions between the national and European authorities and an important organisation such as LTO, which tries to make legislation as workable as possible for your members. It gave me an inside on how lobbying and policy advising works in practice. But I do have to put a side note here because the corona crisis did cause many drinks and meetings to be cancelled, which detracted from the fun of an internship. So I think there was more potential in the internship if it wasn’t for the pandemic.
What are the most important things that you learned during your time at LTO Nederland? Something mentionable that I learned is that policy is very complex and that everyone working in a certain field does not per definition know the details. A lot is being politicised. We met with an MEP for example. He was a member of the Environmental Committee, but he did not even know were abbreviation CAP stood for. At the time the political frame is more important than the actual reality or result. Something you do not what to be true, but sometimes apparently is.
Did the past few months give you an idea of where you want to work after graduating? Definitely, another reason why I wanted to do an internship at LTO was to find out if I saw a future in working for an agricultural organisation. The experience provided me with an insight into both lobbying/communication and policy advising/analysis. I think I like policy advising better, as you are less busy with convincing others and more with making sure certain policies work out in practice.
Is there any advice that you would like to give to students who are not sure yet whether they want to do an internship? An internship is a great way to explore a certain field of interest in practice, it gives you the option to discover the job market, which makes choosing a specific Master's degree easier. It is also a great way to network in your field of interest. This could give you some better perspective of the options you have with your passion. But do not grieve if the internship does not meet your expectations, because it is also useful to know where you don’t want to end up working. An internship is a suitable way to gain insight into your qualities and shortcomings. After an internship, you will know more about your capacities.