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Student secures Ministry of Justice summer internship

Thursday, 15 December 2016 12:40pm

Image of John Lee_internFrom a pool of over 300 applicants, BA (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) / LLB graduate John Lee secured a summer internship with the Ministry of Justice.

In November, John began his internship with the MoJ’s Policy Group. Of the nine teams within the Policy Group, John is working with Criminal Law, and Sentencing and Rehabilitation.

His main task will be ‘Offence and Penalty Vetting’. He explains, “it is a Cabinet Manual requirement that when agencies seek to introduce new criminal offences or amend existing criminal offences' penalties, the MoJ must be consulted. These agencies often believe that criminalising an action/increasing penalties will achieve a reduction in undesirable actions being committed. As a result, proposed penalties are sometimes unethically high.”

“Basically our team ensures that these proposals are properly vetted so that the criminal penalties are reflective of social costs, loss of individual liberty, and so on. We engage in a conversation with the Minister and government agencies involved so that they are aware of the above factors before drafting the bill.”

So how does a new graduate get such an amazing opportunity straight out of university?

Firstly, apply! Always on the lookout for new opportunities, John noticed a poster in the Department of Politics and decided to throw his hat in the ring.

Secondly, carefully tailor an application that will stand out from the crowd. John’s supervisor, Senior Advisor Joanna Wiseman explains, “the Ministry sought interns who were interested in justice issues and insight into a career in the public service. John’s qualifications, work and volunteer experience, and an enthusiastic, well-written cover letter secured him an interview.”

Thirdly, if you secure an interview, do your homework on your prospective employer – who are they, what do they need, and how can you help? Joanna goes on to say, “in the interview, John demonstrated all the skills we were looking for - critical problem solving, working well with a diverse range of people, the ability to take initiative, excellent time management and strong communication skills. He also impressed interviewers with his understanding of the Ministry’s role in the justice sector.”

With his BA/LLB behind him, John is keen to pursue a career in policymaking or potentially return to Otago to complete a Master of International Studies (MIntSt). But first, an amazing summer experience in Wellington awaits!

Further information

Find out more about the Philosophy, Politics and Economics major and the LLB.

Interested in finding an internship yourself? Keep your eye on the Department of Politics Facebook page for future opportunities that arise.

Need some help on the job hunt? Contact Otago’s Career Development Centre