What do the scholars do precisely?

What do the scholars do precisely?

What do the scholars do during their scholarship year? What does their everyday life look like? And what knowledge do they acquire which will be particularly valuable for their later careers? Laetitia Ramelet and Martin Wasmer, the scholars of 2020/2021, provide an insight into their activities.

Where do you work and what kind of team are you part of?

Laetitia Ramelet: I work in the Federal Palace, for the secretariat of Economic Affairs and Taxation Committees. We are a six-strong team which prepares the committee meetings and monitors the issues dealt with by the committees throughout the parliamentary procedures.

Martin Wasmer: I also work in the Federal Palace, as a research associate for the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Committees of the National Council and the Council of States. The team consists of six persons in all.

What does your working day in the Parliamentary Services look like and what is your role in committee meetings?

MW: This is quite varied. On certain days, I work from home all day and read literature about a new topic. On other days, particularly when the committee meetings take place, the whole day involves a full schedule on site in the parliamentary building right into the evening hours.

LR: When we prepare the meetings, I conduct research for the documents that we make available to the committee members about the issues they will have to deal with. I also take part in drawing up the “script” with important information about running the meeting for the chair of the committee, and I’ve also had an opportunity to organise the hearings. During the sessions, I also listen to the debates about these issues in order to be able to prepare the follow-up documents for the committees. Finally, I’m often in contact with the Federal Administration with regard to specialised questions, with journalists or lobbyists who ask questions about the issue dealt with by the committee, and of course with the committee members. All this work is obviously done in close cooperation with the team and with the chairs of the committees.

MW: We participate in committee meetings when the items are treated which we have prepared. In the meeting itself, we listen to the ongoing discussions and take notes, answer possible questions and help to record possible motions. The essential things, though, happen before and after the two-day committee meetings, which take place about once a month per committee. As Laetitia Ramelet has mentioned, the dossiers are compiled and the “script” drawn up before the meetings. After the meetings, a press release is written and committee reports are produced, which communicate the decisions that have been made to the outside world.

What was your highlight to date in your work for the Parliamentary Services?

LR: I find it particularly exciting to experience from the inside the working order of political institutions in a time of crisis.

MW: I’ve already experienced a few highlights. One of the most interesting things is following a parliamentary initiative from the first meeting to an extensive draft for a statutory amendment. In this process, you can also observe the emergence of compromises and the “checks and balances” between the two chambers. And quite generally, it’s of course a unique opportunity to contribute towards making parliamentary operations as smooth as possible, particularly during the current pandemic.

What are you learning during your scholarship year which will later be useful in your career?

MW: I’m acquiring an in-depth understanding of Swiss politics and of legislative processes in general. Besides, I’ve also really learnt a great deal about the role and influence of science and science-related institutions, as well as lobby organisations and associations. I’m also able to establish a small network of professional contacts.

LR: I’m getting a precise insight into political work which would be difficult to acquire from the outside, and into the methods with which a federal institution manages its dossiers.

Who would you recommend the politics scholarship to? 

LR: To someone who would like to move from an academic career to a different sector or to someone who specialises academically in the field of politics (political science, political philosophy, public law, etc.).

MW: To someone who is interested in communication in political contexts and is looking for further activities in this field.