Preparing a New Generation of Ukrainian Politicians

The latest class of the Ukrainian Parliament Internship Program.
The latest class of the Ukrainian Parliament Internship Program
Courtesy of USAID RADA project
Parliament gives interns practical experience
“The internship program became a stepping stone in my career. It opened up a path for me and other interns into difficult-to-enter government institutions.”

June 2016—More than 1,500 Ukrainian young men and women have graduated from USAID’s Ukrainian Parliament Internship Program over the past 20 years, with about 30 percent staying to work within the country’s executive or parliamentary branches.

The latest class of the program graduates this July. And after two decades of support, USAID handed off management of the highly successful program to Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, last December. Now the Ukrainian Parliament will provide up to 40 full-time scholarships annually.

The internship program, one of the first USAID projects in Ukraine, builds a cadre of young policy professionals, helps new graduates start their careers, and helps the legislature to do its job. The program attracts top graduating college students to work on parliamentary committees and departments in the Verkhovna Rada Secretariat to gain practical legislative experience.

This year, 99 young people from all 25 regions of the country participated in the program, including seven who served their internship at the Presidential Administration of Ukraine and three who worked at the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman).

“The internship program is a great opportunity for young people to not only observe the state-building process but to take part in it, too,” said Lidiya Zhovtyak, a 2014-2015 program graduate.

Her colleague, Adrian Kozar, completed the program the same year. “It encourages self-development and the acquisition of leadership skills,” she added.

In the eight-month program, interns work with members of Parliament and their staff while attending trainings on such topics as policy analysis, parliamentary rules of procedure, the legislative process, and tenets of gender equality. The training sessions teach interns analytical and research skills and give them a clearer understanding of the legislative process.

An internship in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada was the first step in the political careers of several program graduates.

“The internship program became a stepping stone in my career. It opened up a path for me and other interns into difficult-to-enter government institutions,” said Ostap Semerak, a longtime Ukrainian member of Parliament [MP] who became minister of environment in April 2016. “I was a program intern and, 12 years later, I entered Parliament as a Ukrainian MP. My own experience and those of other former interns show the real effectiveness of the internship program.”

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Last updated: August 31, 2018

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