Every day was different – Yvette Drissen about traineeship in the European Commission

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Each year the European Commission offers 2 five-months paid traineeships for 1 300 trainees all over the world. It is called Blue Book traineeship. Yvette Drissen was a trainee in Directorate-General Education and shared her experience with readers of Adukacyja.info.

Yvette Drissen. Photo from personal archives.

Tell about yourself. Where are you from? How old are you? What were you doing before going to the traineeship in the European Commission?

My name is Yvette and I am from the Netherlands. I am 23 years old (turning 24 in September). I have a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a master’s degree in Philosophy. During my degree of Social Work I did a 5 months full time internship with refugees; and I went for 5 months to Cape Town (South Africa) to work with youth in the townships. After my master’s degree I went for 10 months to Zaragoza (Spain) to do voluntary work with people with a disability. This voluntary work was an EU programme, which is now called “European Solidarity Corps”.

In which DG did you have the internship? What did you do and how did your working day usually go?

I did my traineeship at the DG Education, Youth, Sports and Culture. Every day was different. My work concerned a lot of writing, for instance minutes, briefings, reports, articles, etc. I also attended different meetings, for example, the meetings with the Council of the European Union, where they discuss youth related topics. Furthermore, I participated in an Expert Group and helped writing policy recommendations on the role of youth work in the work with young migrants and refugees. Besides, I helped the Traineeship Office organising visits and events for my fellow trainees (e.g. the Farewell Conference). Finally, I helped my colleagues with daily tasks and organizational, logistic and administrative issues.

Do you remember your first day of internship? Which impressions did you have then?

Good question. I remember that it was an exciting day, but I was also nervous. You meet a lot of new people, colleagues and fellow trainees. They explain you all the practical issues you need to take care of, like insurance and IT. In the beginning you have to find out what your exact tasks and what your role in the team is going to be.

The first day(s), they also introduce you to the rich social life Brussels has to offer. There are many events taking place in the city, which you can enjoy after work with your new colleagues/friends.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – OCTOBER 21: The Berlaymont building, the headquarters for the European Commission, is unveiled October 21, 2004 in Brussels, Belgium. Berlaymont, originally built in 1967 but abandoned in 1991 after asbestos was discovered throughout the structure, was finally unveiled after a long delayed 13 year redevelopment. The building is expected to re-welcome the EU commission on November 1. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

How long did your internship last and what are you going to do after?

The traineeship was five months in total, one session starts in October and another one in March. I was a trainee in the March session. After my traineeship I will do a PhD on ethics/practical philosophy in the Netherlands.

What applicant should do to get an internship in the European Commission? How does application process look?

Anyone who is interested should first have a look at the Commission dedicated website: https://ec.europa.eu/stages/

The condition for applying and the application process are spelt out there. Selections are fiercely competitive. Of course, if you possess more than just the minimum requirements you have more chances to be selected. For instance, if you speak several languages; if you show civic and social engagement; if you already have experience abroad and if you have at least a bachelor’s degree (but a master’s degree would be even better).

Have you already drawn some life lessons or conclusions after your internship? If yes, could you share something with readers?

What you can learn in the European Institutions is incredible, professionally speaking but also personally speaking. It is a privilege to see from close by how (European) politics functions. And also for your personal development you learn a lot, since you work and live together with people from many different cultures and backgrounds. It is an enriching experience to learn from all these different people.

At this moment application process for internships in the European Commission is opened. What could you advise to potential applicants?

My main tips for applicants would be the following:

– Try to be original and personal in your application form. Even one line on a relevant project you did or subject you followed can already make the difference. Many people already studied law or economics for example. The readers of your application want to know why they should choose you, as compared to others.

– If you are selected for the Bluebook (author’s notice – that’s the name of traineeship), you can send your CV and motivation letter to several Commission Directorates General. Always use the Europass Format. And keep in mind that quality is better than quantity. I wrote only three motivation letters and sent them to my Directorate General of preference. I personalised them and adapted them to the work of each particular Directorate General. It is better to send a few qualitatively good mails, than many general mails.

Registration for the March 2019 Blue Book traineeship is now open. You have time before August 31, 2018 to apply. Find more info about it there and who knows, maybe you will be the next hero of interview on Adukacyja.info!

Interview taken by Dziyana Liashkevich