Max Barksdale Navigating Parliamentary Politics in Germany

While some students get hold of congressional internships in the United States, sophomore Max Barksdale chose to learn more about the political system in Germany through a summer internship in their parliament, the German Bundestag. For a month, Max worked in the office of Hartmut Koschyk, the parliamentary state secretary representing the Finance Ministry.

“I always wanted to study political science in college,” said Max, in a recent post on Secretary Koschyk’s website. “But I had some doubts about how political life would be, in reality. Is politics really like my teachers describe it, or is it different? I wanted to see for myself. In this context, my internship at the Ministry of Finance was a tremendous learning experience.”

After spending the first week learning about how the Bundestag works and finding his way around the complex of governmental buildings, Max was able to follow meetings of the Bundestag Finance Committee, the Finance Working Group of the Union parties, and others.

“At one meeting there was talk about American politics,” said Max. “I found it somehow funny that German politicians know much more about my political system than the typical American. I was allowed to participate in the public gallery at plenary sessions of the Bundestag votes on various laws.”

Near the end of his internship, Max had to give tours of the Reichstag, the German parliament building, to both German constituents and visitors from the U.S., as well as pass a test on the German political system. Max, whose mother is German and who is fluent in the language, also received a glowing recommendation letter from the finance secretary.

“I’ve learned so very much, seeing politics in action. I feel that this internship not only solidified my interest in politics has, but also expanded my knowledge greatly. I had the honor to be part of looking at a different political system—and my own political system from a different perspective.”

Max returned to Berlin the following summer for an internship in the American Embassy. There he worked in public affairs, giving tours to German school groups, writing “extremely unique” memos, and organizing events, including the visit of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele. His two internships have related directly to his course of study at Marlboro in international relations. “This year I’m taking a class on American foreign policy, which I now have the honor of saying I have seen firsthand.”