What it’s really like to work for international organisations – the interns speaking (Part II) LGBT Intergroup
flags in front of European Parliament building

What do the interns do

Ana Sousa, Blue Book trainee at the European Economic and Social Committee:

Speaking for myself, the traineeship was excellent and a great, valuable experience. I was a trainee for the Communications Department and was performing the duties of a Press Officer, and my superiors gave me a lot of responsibility and meaningful things to do. The best part of it was understanding that the tasks given to you were important and truly needed to be done, they weren’t just something to keep the trainees busy. I learned a lot during those 5 months and it was an added value to my CV that helped me secured future jobs.

Oliver Krumme-Garcia, Intern at the European commission representation in Vienna:

I worked at the Public relations department and overall I would say that my responsibilities were limited – there weren’t many opportunities to come up with something of your own.  However, I did a lot of assistance with events organising and management, as well as with drafting of EU commission papers on social, regional, agricultural and other policies. It was challenging, because I didn’t have much experience with those things previously, but overall it was good to be involved in so many different areas, I gained skills that would be a good asset for me in the future. 

Rada Gankova (https://twitter.com/radagankova), intern at the GD Interpretation of the European Parliament in Brussels:

My internship was a very, very positive experience. It gave a chance to work next to experienced interpreters and get an insight of the profession and the institutions. The interpreters were providing immediate feedback and support to the trainees guaranteeing their successful integration to the profession. 

Stela Gineva, intern at the Council of International schools in Hague:

I was given a lot of responsibility, especially after I showed I could handle it. At first, my tasks were more monotonous, i.e. data entry, but I think I showed that I was dedicated and worked hard, so I was assigned more creative assignments, requiring more responsibility. I had the chance to design and pitch my own project within the company, and now I will see it come to fruition in September. 

Karolina Zubel, Bluebook intern with the European External Action Service in Brussels HQ: Global issues and counter terrorism division:

Certainly, that was the best traineeship I have ever done. Although many of my tasks could be categorized as "simple admin", I was also entrusted with various policy-related projects where a solid additional research was needed. Geopolitical analysis of oil&gas sector developments or briefings for HR/VP Mogherini before her bilateral meetings with high level officials from all over the world are probably the best examples. Of course there were things I needed to coordinate with my supervisor/other members of the team, but overall I was positively surprised by the amount of responsibility given from the very beginning. Also while negotiating concrete terms with member states' administrations and EU delegations worldwide. 

Is the internship helpful for getting the dream job?

Oliver Krumme-Garcia, Intern at the European commission representation in Vienna:

The internship isn’t really helpful for getting a full-time position. In order to work for the European commission you need to go through massive application procedure and do the EPSO tests. As far as I know there are from 40 000 to 50 000 candidates each year for a handful of positions, which isn’t very encouraging. The first stage is a computer assessment tests. I took this test 3 times and never got to the interview stage. The questions in this test had nothing to do with my experience working for the European commission or any EU related knowledge. 

Gerda Morkevičiūtė , intern at the United Nations in Geneva

It is impossible to secure a job position if you are intern there. Neither in delegations, nor in the actual UN organisation. They have separated employment systems that you need to go through. The internship only adds value to your personal experience and professional profile, that’s it.

Karolina Zubel, Bluebook intern with the European External Action Service in Brussels HQ: Global issues and counter terrorism division:

Even though it is almost impossible to stay with the EEAS after the end of your traineeship (40% of staff comes from the MS’ administrations, the rest passed EPSO or works there only temporarily and staff in delegations secured their positions thanks to CAST exam), as a trainee you are responsible for similar tasks or projects as AD4 (starting position) policy officers. The variety of things you are supposed to cover is without any doubt the biggest added value here. I was lucky enough to work for a horizontal team what in practice meant dealing with issues spanning from sustainable development to counter-terrorism on a daily basis. The experience you can gain is therefore invaluable both for your EPSO preparations and future career in the field.

An intern with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and then for the Council of Europe who decided to remain anonymous:

I think it stands you in good stead when applying in the future but both organisations require a lots of work experience before applying for positions. The Council of Europe no longer offers full-time contracts for budgetary reasons but there is a speculative application process you are directed to apply for temporary positions which former trainees benefit from. The staff are eager to help trainees and keep them on. At the OHCHR, you are barred for 6 months after your internship for applying to work at the UN, and the requirements for working there in the future are very stringent experience-wise, but if you get the experience and apply later in life, I believe having done an internship will be favorable and it will also help you get the work experience you need in the meantime.