Between April and June 2021, we were very honoured to welcome Henning to our team as a trainee in public communications and administration. He wrote a short report on his experience with our office that we are publishing here.
I got the opportunity to undertake my traineeship at the office of MEP Patrick Breyer in the spring of 2021 for a duration of 9 weeks in Brussels. Patrick is a member of the LIBE and JURI committees and is committed to preserving fundamental rights in the era of the Digital Revolution. In his fight against surveillance he is well connected with the Czech MEP’s of the Pirate Party and a member of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament.
The application process was very quick and well structured and consisted of the formal application and a video-interview. After receiving a positive response, I looked for a place in Brussels and packed my bags. Luckily, finding a room in Brussels as a trainee is quite easy, since there is a lot of constant fluctuation on the housing market due to the myriad of former trainees in the European Union institutions.
The traineeship was listed as “Administration and Public Relations” which allowed me to work on a really diverse set of tasks. I would count this as one of the strongest advantages of this traineeship, which never gave me the feeling to be stuck in any direction. The tasks connected to administration gave a perfect view into the everyday life of an MEP office in the European Parliament. This reaches from sorting e-mails to updating contact lists and following the policy developments in various online meetings. As a trainee in this office, one gets the opportunity to join a wide variety of calls which all are interesting in themselves. In this way you can take a look into discussions in the delegation, on group level or follow the plenary debates. The time to do so and to have a look around different venues is naturally given to the trainee. As stated above, while administrative work might seem boring at first glance, it is actually fundamental to the work in the Parliament and offers a very interesting set of insights.
The other major part of tasks surrounded public relations, which I spent the majority of time on. I got the opportunity to practice creative but content-oriented writing by drafting different types of tweets, press releases or even newspaper op-eds. At this point I want to highlight the great team of colleagues as major key which enabled a constantly positive traineeship experience. The communication inside the team was very friendly, constructive and supportive and there were always opportunities to ask for clarifications or insights. As a trainee I felt fully integrated into the team and was glad that this led to the salient transfer of responsibility towards me. One highlight in the realms of public relations was to work on the Group’s “Ban Biometric Mass Surveillance” campaign, as Patrick’s office was leading this campaign. Doing this, I got to work on the organization of a screening event in a cinema in Brussels, which helped me gain some interesting insights into event management. This campaign also interestingly showed how the office works together with other players such as civil society NGOs.
The interactivity of the traineeship benefitted strongly from a well organized working day, which still left room for the independent setting of priorities. A daily team call helps in keeping up with the relevant topics and simultaneously gives you a constant glance into the work of your colleagues. You can use these situations to find new topics and areas of interest which you can later follow up on or to just listen to eye-opening talks about the development of policies in the EU.
Finally, I want to add that my traineeship experience will have likely differed from traineeships in the future since big parts of the work was done online due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Future trainees will hopefully spend more time in real life events, at the office in the Parliament or all around Brussels. The time I spend in video calls will by then surely be spent face to face. However, even though sanitary measures were still quite strong at the Parliament during my traineeship, I still got the opportunity to work in the office, eat at the cafeteria and meet many different young people from all around Europe. I consider this experience as a huge privilege and can only recommend it to everyone interested in European Affairs. Paired with the great work environment for the trainee in the office of Patrick Breyer, I am really thankful for my time in Brussels.