Kerry Gilbert is an Accredited Assistant at the European Parliament to Jim Nicholson MEP based in Brussels. She is a former Head girl of Friends’ School and has a degree in Law and French from the University of Bristol.
In her final year at university Kerry applied for an internship with Mr Nicholson and was offered a six months position which began post-graduation in June 2012. She started her current role in April 2013.
There are no typical days in the European Parliament. I am normally found happily hurrying around the enormous European Parliament buildings, either to a Chamber, a committee room or to meet a group of constituents. Knowing your way around the Parliament and finding meeting rooms is essential survival training for an assistant.
My weekly schedule is determined by the European Parliament calendar which is divided into part-sessions and meetings. One week per month is spent in Strasbourg for the part-session where the MEPs vote together on legislative dossiers; the rest of the month takes place in Brussels with meetings of parliamentary committees, inter-parliamentary delegations and political groups.
Irrespective of the rest of my day there are two unchanging aspects. The first is scouring the Northern Ireland press and the second is the daily diary. No matter how well the day is planned it would be a miracle to make it through a whole day with everything running according to schedule. Meeting times and locations are fluid so it is essential to be flexible and in email contact at all times.
Committee weeks are most hectic as I help prepare Jim to be in two places at once. Preparation includes legislative briefing notes, speech writing, press releases and legal drafting. The committee agendas are always packed full of diverse topics from Animal Health to the Sound Level of Motor Vehicles to Energy Smart Grids and everything in between so my research is extremely varied and interesting.
I work closely with the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels and the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels sharing information and briefings on European legislation of particular national concern.
I really do love my work; it is extremely challenging and interesting. That I get to use both aspects of my degree, Law and French, is, a dream come true. What is more, working for an MEP from Northern Ireland keeps me connected to home.