“This is the absolute coolest thing after graduation”

The European Parliament regularly awards traineeships to university graduates. How to apply? What are the chances? And what are the possible locations? Annika, who is currently doing a Schuman traineeship at the European Parliament Liaison Office in Berlin, will give you the answers.

Interview: Ray Finger (19), MeetEU team member and volunteer at together.eu

Ray: Hi Annika, thank you very much for taking time for our interview. Who are you actually? Please tell us.

Annika: Hey Ray, I am currently an intern at the European Parliament Liaison Office here in Berlin. I was born in Rhineland-Palatinate. I went to Maastricht to study, where I studied European Studies for my Bachelor’s degree. Then I got the internship at the European Parliament. Since the beginning of March I have been here. It is great fun. I knew beforehand what the individual institutions stand for and how they work together, but I am still learning a lot about the way they work, the internal structures.

You said that you already had a European political background. How did that come about?

At school I have already been to France and Poland through a student exchange, and I have also seen a lot during my holidays. Through this I developed a passion for Europe. That is why I decided to study European Studies. In Maastricht we studied completely in English and also spoke more or less only English in our free time. My fellow students were from all over Europe. That was a great experience, even our professors were international.

I wanted to do this internship at a very early stage. It’s the absolute coolest thing after graduation, I thought.

"You should open the text messages and emails immediately, because you have only 72 hours to accept the offer."
Schuman Trainee

What are the requirements for the internship? Which hurdles did you have to take?

The application process is staggered. You apply within an application period of one month – for me it was November. Normally, 400 traineeships are awarded in the three main locations of Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, but also in all the liaison offices, i.e. in each capital and sometimes in larger cities of the member states.

Then you prepare your CV and letter of motivation and fill in an online form. After that you have to wait a while. Due to the large number of applications, the chances of success are around two percent. The decisive factor is a combination of your experience, your education, your letter and the position you are applying for.

In January I received a text message saying I was in the narrow selection. Thereupon you have two weeks to upload three documents: the diploma with stamps etc., a copy of your passport and your criminal record certificate. Two or three weeks later the next relieving SMS came: “Congratulations! You just got an offer for an internship.” I was so excited!

You should open the text messages and emails immediately, because you have only 72 hours to accept the offer. In the end I can say that Berlin is a beautiful city and I have a wonderful internship place right at the Brandenburg Gate.

Speaking of your work, how does the liaison office in Berlin work?

Many people don’t know the liaison offices, although they have such an important task, which is to connect the member states and the citizens with the EU. Many think that Brussels or Luxembourg are far away, but we are all the EU.

So the liaison offices of the European Parliament connect mainly members of the Parliament with the citizens through dialogues, discussions, public relations and exchanges.

But it is not only that the EU comes into the member state, but also that the citizens are taken into the EU. This happens e.g. through study trips or competitions where you can win trips to Strasbourg.

Would you say your opinion of the EU has changed?

My view has changed – for the better. You simply have a more personal relationship when you get to know all your colleagues. That really makes you part of the European Union. I am not treated like an intern, but more like a full colleague. Moreover, I work not only with my Berlin colleagues, but also with my colleagues in Brussels. Especially now that the German Presidency of the Council of the EU begins, you get a totally exciting look behind the scenes.

What’s your plan after the internship?

Unfortunately, the internship ends at the end of July, because it is always a fixed internship of five months. Then we give the next people a chance. I would prefer to stay in Berlin. Right now I’m looking for a job or an internship that will keep me here. In the long term I would like to add a Master’s degree in European Studies.

Would you recommend the internship to others?

Absolutely. It’s worth it. The only costs are time. Besides, not only people with a European political background are wanted, but everyone across the whole spectrum, such as economists, lawyers or historians.

Thank you very much for your insights and best wishes for the future!

Annika: I enjoyed it, thank you so much!