- Success Stories
As an International Relations major with a keen interest in policies concerning human rights, global development, and environmental sustainability, I had always hoped to intern with an organization or institution that deals with at least one of these policy areas. Never had I imagined that a single internship would expose me to most of my interests- which is exactly what my experience at the European Parliament did.
For my internship, I worked in the office of Dr. Miriam Dalli, a Maltese MEP (Member of the European Parliament) who serves on a range of committees including one which deals exclusively with environmental issues (ENVI), and another which broadly addresses human rights and civil liberties (LIBE). Because this was my first political internship, I had no idea about what to expect and was admittedly quite nervous. I also felt that my lack of experience with European politics would prevent me from being a successful intern. However, my office did a great job of showing me the ropes and taking a European Politics class at Vesalius College (which was part of the program) definitely made the learning process much easier.
Throughout my internship, I did several things- everything from taking notes at committee group sessions to editing and drafting speeches for my MEP. Coincidentally, my internship overlapped with the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and so I also go to a chance to attend exclusive cultural and social events that enabled me to learn a few things about Malta. These were amazing networking opportunities and I got a chance to rub shoulders with some of the big shots in European politics. Ultimately, my internship reaffirmed my interest in working within the realm of public policy.
Beyond my internship, I fell in love with Brussels and Belgium in general. The country is not as fast paced as the U.S but also not as low-key as my home, Zimbabwe. It is a great mixture of people, culture, AND… it has amazing beer! Brussels has a vibrant social scene (particularly at night) and I found the city very accessible. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do a lot of international travel due to various visa requirements. Nonetheless, Belgium gave me far more than I bargained for and it definitely ranks high on the list of four countries I have lived in thus far.
In sum, the experience in Brussels was amazing and given the chance, I’d do it all over again.
My summer in Brussels has made me experience the Europe I was only learning about in history books, and thanks to my internship, I had a very meaningful summer that has prepared me for my future professional career
I had the pleasure to work as an intern in the office of MEP Marlene Mizzi. Ms.Mizzi is from the beautiful island known as the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta, and she belongs to the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, a centre-left political group in the European Parliament. She participates actively in the Petition Committee, Internal Market and Consumer Protection Market Committee, Culture and Education Committee, and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. Other than participating in the parliamentary committees, Ms.Mizzi is also very vocal in improving animal welfare. Therefore, working in her office means that I had the opportunity to learn about many different aspects of Europe, ranging from the European Ombudsman to geo-blocking practices in the internal market.
Ms.Mizzi and her assistants always encouraged me to attend committee meetings and relevant events inside and outside of the European Parliament. In the first few weeks, they informed me thoroughly about the political groups and their political orientations, some politically sensitive topics and Malta’s key interests in the Parliament. My supervisor trusted me so much that she let me work independently on several projects, such as writing an explanatory statement for the report on the activities of European Ombudsman in 2016 and drafting initial ideas for amendments of the draft opinion on the reform of the European Citizens’ Initiative. I have also worked on the parliamentary questions, explanation of votes, speech and notes for the ACP-EU regional meetings on a daily basis. I carried out extensive research and wrote brief summaries on various topics to provide the assistants with relevant information, so that they could focus on some more urgent things. I experienced and took part in the EU democratic system, which has complemented the European history studies I have previously done during my year abroad in France.
Of course, my life in Brussels was not just about working. Thanks to Brussels’ convenient geographic location and the well-developed railway system, I was able to do some relaxing day-trips at Belgian towns, such as Antwerp, Bruges, and Gent. Being in Brussels also help me keep speaking French, as I did not want to forget it after my year in France.
I am realizing how much I love the daily Parliament life – never quite getting to the end of the email inbox, always running to the next meeting by way of the coffee shop, making friends…
I am Sarah, a girl who caught the travel bug young and who doesn’t like to sit still for too long. I moved from my hometown to study International Studies, French and English. In college, I continued to play cello in the orchestra and led a co-ed a cappella group, as well as organizing for the French club and leading service Spring Break trips. I came to Brussels because I wanted to graduate with tangible experience in both of my majors and I had spent the semester before in France doing an intensive French language program. An internship in Brussels allows me to get an in-depth experience of the international relations of both my native country and of my European specialization. In being here, I am realizing how much I love the daily Parliament life – never quite getting to the end of the email inbox, always running to the next meeting by way of the coffee shop, making friends by sympathizing over your never ending meeting schedule or bonding with your office over laughing at the lobby groups that never seem to stop knocking on your door. By talking to graduate students interning alongside me, I’ve cemented the idea that I will pursue graduate school here in Europe. I hope to continue to pursue my passion for international politics and the culture of the European Parliament with a job in a related field at some point in the future, and I know that the experience I am currently having is indispensable in that search.
I always knew I wanted to study abroad as a part of my undergraduate experience, because it is a great time to gain new knowledge in an international setting. Who knows when else i will have an opportunity to do so! When I was looking into where to study and what program to go with, I was attracted to Jennifer’s program due to the hands on learning aspect intrinsically a part of having an internship. Despite not studying Political Science, I have gained valuable knowledge related to my educational interests as the Parliament is a vehicle for decision making, impacting many parts of society. With broad interests and unclear career plans, I am excited about having this internship to help shape my career goals and qualification. I have seen and understood not only how a high-level, busy office works, but about the legislative process in the EU, interaction between member states, interaction between the EU and abroad, as well as how a large supranational budget is used and controlled. Many facets go into the broadly legislative work of the Parliament and engaging with various parts is a unique and worthwhile experience.
Working at the European Parliament, while not a European Citizen is an interesting and enriching experience. While I am an outsider in language and citizenship, I have been warmly welcomed. I work in the office of Dr. Gräßle, a German MEP. There have been three other interns working with me at various times. Working with and getting to know other students, from Germany, has added a personal touch to my experience. The assistants working in the office, my supervisors, are all kind and happy to explain new concepts to me. Dr. Graessle is the chair of the Budgetary Control Committee, and much of the work I do is related. I read lengthy reports and summarize them for Dr. Gräßle’s notes. I research and analyze different information for various reports. I attend meetings on relevant topics, where I take notes that are of interest to the Assistant’s work. The panel style meetings are often attended by various think tanks, MEP’s, Commission Members and other relevant professionals. The topics require an understanding in order to follow along, as well as constructing pointed notes, keeping in mind what the assistant is hoping to learn from the event. For example, I most recently went to a meeting on the synergy of the European Structural and Investment Funds with the European Fund for Strategic Investments. With prior research, I was able to create notes that answered my supervisor’s questions.
Additionally, I can attend any meeting that is interesting to me. At the parliament, there are always meetings going on that are interesting and open. Even if not relevant to the office, I may want to go because of personal interest. I most recently attended a meeting about the EU’s response to President Trumps Global Gag Rule. Viewing American affairs from the European perspective, at this tumultuous time, has has given me a new viewpoint. Working here during Trump’s inauguration has been an unforgettable experience. Not only do I get to see the reactions of international politicians first hand, but I also get to explain an American perspective to inquiring europeans.
As the most proficient english speaker in the office, I am often called upon to edit the writing of the Assistants and other interns. While I have solid grammar skills, I have never been the person my peers come to for editing matters. I now consider myself to be the English advisor of my office. While fixing basic grammar is not high level, it is a unique skill that I bring to the office to help contribute.
My study abroad experience in Brussels, Belgium far exceeded my expectations. Prior to going abroad I conducted hours and days and weeks of research about what to bring, what to expect, and how to act in Europe.
I was mostly hesitant about my internship at the European Parliament. I did not know what I would encounter in the day-to-day work life nor was I sure about the differing office dos and don’ts. Luckily the most amazing Ms. Jennifer Palumbo prepped and primed me for everything I need and should know about interning in the European Parliament, from what to wear to how to speak. Also throughout my time in Brussels Jennifer facilitated a number of workshops to help in being more comfortable in the new work environment. I learned how to properly negotiate my schedule, how to incorporate prior and newly acquired skills to me resume, and how to effectively speak about myself to future employers.
Working in the European Parliament was as exciting as one could imagine. Constantly being surrounded by dignitaries and policy makers was the best part of everyday. People from all over the world would come and go speaking all different types of languages discussing international issues and I got to experience all of it. My particular office encouraged me to explore and participate in as many meetings and events as possible which taught me so much about local and international affairs as well as providing me with possibly the best networking opportunity of all time.
As far as living in Brussels, it was certainly intimidating at first. I have never been so far from home for such a long time. Initially I spent most of my time in the apartment sparingly going out to explore. Later on I became more comfortable with going out and making new friends throughout the city. I really got in touch with the culture of Brussels and enjoyed every waffle, bar, and picturesque building I saw as my own home.
Through my internship, I received a level of education that is truly priceless!
In my time in Brussels, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work in the office of Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola. Coming into the experience I was certainly nervous about my ability to perform in such a new and different environment. Not only was this my first time working in a political office, it was also my first time traveling to Europe.
Upon my arrival in Brussels, I was welcomed generously by the Program Director and was pleasantly surprised to see the lengths that were taken to ensure that I had everything I needed to start this new adventure and be successful in my work. After my first days in the office, it became clear that this would be a great experience. I was quickly immersed in some of the most interesting and urgent topics facing Europe, and for this I owe much gratitude to the wonderful people I worked under. They were gracious in making me feel wecome and a part of the team. I never felt like an outsider but instead was encouraged to participate and contribute to the best of my ability.
Within very little time I was attending committee and NGO meetings on my own. It was great to know that I was trusted to represent the office in that way. I felt challenged and appreciated each time I walked into the European Parliament.