Fiatalok tudósítanak önkéntesen a magyar EU-elnökség óta – Youngsters report voluntary since the Hungarian EU Presidency

2017. november. 21., kedd

Lifelong experience – traineeship at the Commission

Szerző:
2012. február 8.
ROVAT: English | CÍMKÉK: ,

In the website of the Traineeships Office of the European Commission we can read that being an intern there gives young university graduates a unique, first-hand experience. It was true for Thomas Streinz, who did this traineeship from October 2010 to February 2011 and currently studies at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität in München.

Why did you decide to do the traineeship of the Commission?

Good question. I had been in Brussels before, doing an internship at the Representation of Bavaria to the EU. It was then when I realized that the European Commission is a very interesting place to work, because it’s where the original proposals for new EU laws are made. Also, I had some friends who told me about their experiences in Brussels, including the famous “stagiaire parties”.

In what Directorates General (DG) did you work? (DGs are the departments of the European Commission – editor)

I worked for the Legal Service of the Commission, which provides legal advice to the Commission and its DGs and represents the Commission before the Court of Justice in Luxemburg. It’s organized like a DG, but it’s called a Service, because it provides advice to all the DGs.

What was your job exactly?

I was the member of the Institutional Team, which deals with all the major issues of EU law. My mentor was responsible for human rights and in this capacity also the negotiator on behalf of the European Commission for the accession of the EU to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. I assisted him at the negotiations and helped with the preparation of documents. That was my task which covered the whole five months of the internship. There were, however, other, smaller tasks, too, for example I answered a request by a citizen of the UK or I helped in the drafting of a submission to the European Court of Justice. This traineeship was a great professional experience, as I was really involved into the work.

There is an application procedure. How does it work? As I know, first, you had to apply at the website of the Commission. Then what happened?

Yes, first I applied at the website. Then I had to wait quite some time until the Traineeships Office checked the eligibility criteria and made a preselection. So some patience is required at this point. If you make it to the preselection list, you will be eligible by the different DGs and services of the Commission.

Then the different DGs chose from the applicants?

Exactly. The Traineeships Office makes a preselection to narrow down the applicants to a 3:1 ratio, so there are still three applicants for one job. Then it’s the task of the DGs to decide which applicants to pick from the list. There are different procedures in the different DGs to do that. DG Trade, for example, which was originally my third choice, made a phone interview with me.

So you can list three DGs where you would like to work.

Yes. I picked the Legal Service, DG Competition and DG Trade.

Then the Legal Service decided they want to work with you?

Yes. I got an e-mail in July that they considered me. They asked whether I was still available, because sometimes people have different plans at this point or opted for another DG, and I replied in the affirmative. I received the offer in late July and the internship started in October.

Do the applicants need some special knowledge, like in the Legal Service, knowledge about the EU law?

Yes, they do. You need to have a Bachelor’s degree. The knowledge depends on the DG you’re applying to. For the Legal Service, you need knowledge about EU law, for sure. For DG Competition it could also be a Bachelor in Economics. For DG Communications it could be marketing or public relations skills. For DG Sanco (Health) it could be medical science, and so on…

We can read a lot about that during an internship you can get many contacts and you can meet many people. Was it true for you?

Definitely. In the Legal Service alone, I had eight fellow interns from different countries. And in total there are more than six hundred interns at the Commission alone, not to count all the other interns at the other institutions, lobbying firms and representations. Every Monday the interns of the Commission met at a pub next to the Commission and every Thursday all the interns of Brussels met at the Place Luxembourg for after-work drinks. So there were plenty of opportunities to meet people and to make friends.

Do you keep in touch with the other interns since then?

Yes, mainly via Facebook but also in person. I met one of my former colleagues when I was in Brussels for the EU Careers Ambassador training session and we decided to plan a reunion for 2012. And some former colleagues will visit me in Munich, too – for Oktoberfest.

What was the best moment during the five months?

Well, there were many nice moments, starting from the initial conference, where all the interns came together for the first time. In terms of the job, it was certainly the possibility to attend the negotiation sessions. But in terms of fun, I would pick the “Euroball” at a fancy hotel where we celebrated the end of the stage. Our team had extra reason to celebrate, because we had won the “Stagiaire Cup” of the Football tournament which had been organized among the interns.

Do you feel that the internship helped you to have greater career opportunities?

Yes, I think so. It’s certainly a plus in case I want to join the Commission one day. But it’s also regarded as a plus in the private sector. Last month I had an interview at a law firm and they asked specifically about my internship at the Commission. I got the job.

What would be your advice for those who would like to apply for an internship at the Commission?

Well, one topic is always whether or not one should “lobby” in the final stage of the selection process. That is when you have made the list and wait to be picked by one of the DGs. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, but at some DGs it’s common. So if you have contacts, I would advise you to use them. There’s nothing wrong about a nice phone call. Many people apply for the internship at the Commission and unfortunately not everyone gets the chance at the first time. So my advice is to try again – you’re chances will be better next time as you’ll have more experience and maybe also more language skills, which are also important.

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