- Success Stories
I discovered snow…
I will miss Brussels when I leave. In the last few days, I have really enjoyed the snow, which I don’t often see in my city. And it’s been fun travelling around in the weekend, my favourite destination for the moment is Cologne in Germany, for the atmosphere and the shopping. Local people are nice, they helped me a lot wherever in my internship or in life.
The intercultural exchange was amazing
The internship has been interesting and challenging. I had the chance to participate in meetings and conferences about human rights and society in Europe and China. It was really interesting to hear the different opinions and to see my country from the outside, from the point of view of a European. There are some cultural differences!
I don’t know when I will be back in Europe, but my university offers exchange programs with the UK and I’m temped to apply for next year, so we’ll see.
More than I expected…
As an International Relations (IR) major with a keen interest in policies concerning human rights, global development, and environmental sustainability, I had always hoped to work with an institution that covers at least one of these policy areas. Never had I imagined that a single internship would expose me to all three; which is exactly what my experience at the European Parliament did.
I received a warm welcome
For my internship, I worked in the office of Dr. Miriam Dalli (S&D), a Maltese MEP (Member of the European Parliament) who serves on several parliamentary committees. The ENVI committee deals exclusively with environmental issues, while the LIBE committee broadly addresses human rights and civil liberties. Because this was my first political internship, I did not know what to expect and was admittedly quite nervous. I also felt that my lack of experience with European politics would inhibit my ability to be an impactful intern. However, my office did a great job of showing me the ropes and taking a class on European politics at Vesalius College (which was part of the program) definitely made the learning process much easier.
My daily life in the internship
Throughout my internship, I was tasked with several responsibilities – everything from note-taking at parliamentary committee sessions to drafting and editing speeches for my MEP. Coincidentally, my internship also overlapped with the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (Council) and so I also got a chance to attend exclusive Maltese cultural and social events. These were great networking opportunities and I was able to rub shoulders with some of the “big-shots” in European politics, including EU Commissioners! Ultimately, my internship reaffirmed my interest in public policy and informed my decision to apply to European graduate programs. Plus, interning at the EP is a great resume booster!
I had a great time in Brussels
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. Brussels is easy to navigate, has a vibrant social scene (particularly at night) AND has phenomenal beer! Although I couldn’t do much international travel, Belgium gave me far more than I bargained for and it ranks high on the list of countries I have lived in thus far.
In sum, my experience in Brussels was amazing and given the chance, I’d do it all over again.
– Adil is now pursuing his Masters at the prestigious Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, Switzerland.
My summer in Brussels has made me experience the Europe I was only learning about in history books. 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 in 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.
My daily work in the internship
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. for example, I wrote an explanatory statement for the report on the activities of European Ombudsman in 2016 and drafted initial ideas for amendments of the opinion on the reform of the European Citizens’ Initiative. I also worked on 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. It was great to experience and take part in the EU democratic system, it was a very enriching complement of 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 helped me improve my French 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 allowed 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 realized 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.
– Sarah’s travel bug is alive and well! After a gap year teaching English in France, she is applying to graduate schools in Europe and the US.
I’m not a political science major. And yet…
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.
A warm welcome to my office
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 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.
I was able to pursue my interests
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.
I was surprised too!
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.
My hesitation was swept away
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. 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.
I had the time of my life
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.
I expanded my comfort zone
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.
I felt well taken care of
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.
I felt valued as a professional
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.
– Edgar, originally Colombian, completed his bachelor in the US and is now back in Brussels finishing his Masters in human rights law at the University of Kent, Brussels campus. His horizons have greatly expanded and he is more confident than ever in his job prospects.
I learned so much…
As a music major who picked up political science as her second major in undergraduate, I would have never thought that I’d end up in Brussels interning at the European Parliament. In the fall of my senior year at Furman University, I studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium. Before my trip to Belgium, I studied up on the European Union (EU), only to find out how much I did not know about it as institution. I was surprised to learn that the EU is made up of several smaller supranational bodies, and the one I was most interested in was the European Parliament (EP).
I learned how to behave as a professional
Without the program, I would not have been able to get a placement at the EP with a very prestigious Member of European Parliament (MEP), Barbara Matera. MEP Matera is well known for her efforts in gender equality, a personal interest of mine, so it was wonderful working in her office with her accredited assistant and other European interns. My supervisor, MEP Matera’s assistant, challenged me in many ways. Because he was very target oriented, he wanted me to get a task done as soon as possible, but when there was work he could delegate to interns, he encouraged me to seek out my own opportunities and attend extracurricular events. I attended an End FGM conference, several workshops on work/life balance, and even helped to organize a speech for my MEP on women entrepreneurship. My supervisor taught me how to work independently and helped me understand the inner workings of the Parliament. I appreciated the opportunity to attend committee and delegation meetings and listen to current events at plenary in Strasbourg.
My supervisor recommended me for grad school: I got in!
As rewarding as this experience was in furthering my interests in government and gender, I benefited from it professionally. I learned to dress and behave in a professional office environment. Additionally, this experience, my learned knowledge of the EU, and my supervisor’s recommendation helped me get into the London School of Economics where I will attend this coming September for a Msc in EU Politics. Interning at Parliament definitely opened up my eyes to all the possibilities out there and has given me a direction to follow for the future.
– Tiffany is now attending the prestigious graduate studies program at the London School of Economics, in – you guessed it – London, England.