March 14, 2006 5:27 pm

Julia Labeta

I was awarded the Peter Martin Fellowship after completing a Masters degree in Politics at Oxford. I had previously been an intern at the European Commission, a political consultancy (Lexington Communications) in London, the investment bank Goldman Sachs and the Welsh Assembly government. I had also spent a year in Paris, studying at Sciences-Po.

If that sounds eclectic, then so is leader-writing. In an average week, you might be asked to draw lessons from a takeover battle, scrutinise a high-profile appointment, map out what’s at stake in an election and tease out the implications of a trade dispute. Restless curiosity certainly helps. But you can also ask the appropriate FT expert to fill you in, and pick the brains of your leader-writing colleagues. In that sense the fellowship isn’t just an opportunity to write, it’s also a chance to learn more about most issues you’ve ever been interested in – and a few more you’d never thought of – from people who cover them day in, day out for the FT.

I study the EU as part of my academic work, and so was offered the chance to spend a few days at the newspaper’s Brussels bureau. I was a little star-struck by the experience…and that was before being encouraged to try some reporting, let alone reading my own news story on the Eurostar home.

But the most distinctive aspect of the fellowship is that it lives up to its billing: it procures you a place on the leader-writing team of the FT. For the duration of the summer, I was made to feel like a full member of that team, and it is that experience that stands out as the most extraordinary privilege.

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