Life after EPS
What does life bring after EPS? First-year students Irina Percemli and Luisa Moratelli interviewed some EPS alumni to learn how life after the MA degree went for them and ask for a piece of wise advice for the current students and candidates.
By: Irina Percemli & Luisa Moratelli
What does life after EPS look like? How is the job market? Is Brussels the only way after EPS? What is the value of the programme for your future career? These are some of the questions of those who are thinking about their future after the Master's. In this European Waves article, we will give a few answers to these questions, based on testimonials from our Alumni community.
Is the “Brussels bubble” the only path?
There is a lot of talk around the so-called “Brussels bubble”, a vast bureaucratic network within the EU institutions. A career in Brussels is considered to be the most prestigious by many European politics students. So should the EPSers already prepare themselves for tons of applications, stressful professional exams and competition with thousands of people?
Turns out, the career opportunities after EPS can be pretty diverse, even inside Brussels. For example, Gaston Rieder, an EPS alumnus of 2021, has decided to pursue what he called a “not really a traditional EPS job” - a career in data analytics in a Brussels-based delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com. He mentioned that working in institutions would be too static for him, whereas in the job that he has right now, he already became the senior analyst and in a couple of months he is expected to be the lead data analyst.
“I do think [this job] was a really good choice, in the sense that things are very dynamic. I feel very respected at my work. I also have a lot more seniority than I would have if I decided to stick to something more politics-related”, he explains.
Lennart Paetz, a most recent graduate from the programme, is working as a public affairs consultant at 365 Sherpas in Brussels, a job he described as “very fun, engaging and demanding”. He also mentioned that “EPS makes it easier to find your way in Brussels”.
“If you decide to move to Brussels, you’re likely to be surrounded by a good few of your friends from EPS making the first few months in this new city much easier, kind of like a third year of EPS”.
-Lennart, EPS 2022 Alumni
But what is more, you do not necessarily have to be in Brussels to land a good job that would suit your interest. A 2021 alumna Cláudia Coelho is working as an Immigration Consultant at EY, a consultancy company in her home country Portugal. Likewise, a 2022 graduate Maryse Boonstra is currently working in the Association of Dutch Municipalities in the Netherlands.
Furthermore, a professional career is not the only way. There are also EPSers like Mauricio Maníquez, another 2022 graduate, who decided to pursue an academic career and started a PhD at the University of Oslo and is currently employed at the ARENA Centre for European Research.
Maryse Boonstra, a 2022 EPS Alumna
When it comes to academic careers, you don’t necessarily have to choose the research track to pursue a PhD afterwards. For example, Mauricio did his second year at Leiden University. He mentioned that he did not do an internship and instead took extra ECTS and did two Methods schools during the program: at KU Leuven and Oxford. He started looking for PhD programs at the beginning of his last semester through mailing lists and asking his professors. “A PhD in Norway, as for many other European countries, is a regular employment position so it entails the same benefits and responsibilities”, he adds.
Unlocking the path to successful job-hunting
The competitiveness of the job market can be pretty tough, but not unmanageable. Claudia’s way went through a position as a Project Assistant in an NGO based in Lisbon and seven months of Schuman traineeship in the European Parliament.
“[The] jobs were easy to find, but before getting to any position, I had to go through many ups and downs, i.e. interviews that didn't go well, applications that did not receive an answer and severe ghosting from many recruiters. Nevertheless, [,,,], I was lucky enough to start working at the NGO because I had a contact there who helped me get hired”, Claudia says.
Claudia Coelho, a 2022 EPS Alumna
According to Claudia, luck and spontaneity were quite crucial for her experience, because she “applied in the right hour to the right company”. “[A]fter one month of sending applications to a bunch of different companies, I ended up being hired to the company I applied to first”, she says.
Maryse also started her career path from an NGO - the Dutch branch of an African organisation called Amref Flying Doctors. She found her internship after finishing her studies in Barcelona through a vacancy website in the Netherlands (Dutch students, worth noting!). After three-month internship, she moved on to a two-year traineeship for the Association of Dutch Municipalities. Currently, she’s working on a project that does advocacy work on behalf of Dutch municipalities in the EU, thus linking her studies to the local context.
What is the value of EPS?
All our interviewees agree that one of the biggest advantages of having EPS in their CVs is the programme’s Joint Master character and its internationalisation: EPS is “eye-catching”, “makes you stand out”, and “people were very impressed with EPS as a programme”. According to Gaston, for example, travelling and living in all corners of Europe with people from all around the world was really enriching and that develops your flexibility, as it is “not really something that is very usual”. This also contributes to independent thinking, personal growth and character building, according to Cláudia. In Maryse’s perspective, the EPS network contributes much to the first steps of your career, since students and alumni tend to share job opportunities in different countries.
Gaston Rieder, a 2021 EPS Alumnus
Maryse and Gaston mentioned the importance of their Master Thesis for their careers. In the case of Maryse, researching abortion rights in her thesis directly affected her application for her internship at Amref Flying Doctors, which works with women's rights and sexual reproductive health. On the other hand, Gaston’s experience with quantitative analysis in his thesis, as well as his internship as a quantitative research analyst in Vote Watch Europe, influenced his current position as a data analyst.
The view from the shoulders of giants: tips from the Alumni
Lennart advised the students to look for professional experiences beyond internships, for example, working as a student assistant for an NGO, which is somehow related to Gaston’s advice on “being proactive”. In his words, his tip is to “explore and seek out the opportunities that are of interest to you in a truly frenetic manner”, use the resources offered by the universities and “give shape to things the way you want them to be”. Maryse adds that any extracurricular activities (such as European Waves) that you do during your studies are appreciated by employers.
When it comes to more practical matters, Gaston also recommends students to work in two areas: quantitative skills and expanding your Excel knowledge is definitely a worthwhile investment, as well as dedicating yourself to one language that will be relevant for your future to an intermediate to fluent level.
When it comes to Traineeships in the Parliament, Claudia’s tip is to be pragmatic and apply for the three ones which do not have the highest number of applications (you can see how many applicants have sent their CVs to any particular position). But of course, this is not to discourage you for applying to other more popular positions. If you believe in yourself and have the skills and the proper CV - go for it!
Lennart Paetz, a 2022 EPS alumnus
For those pursuing a career in Brussels, Lennart warns to be “careful with Belgian beer, it hits and it hits hard” - and he is German!
To conclude, these different experiences and tips from our outstanding alumni will, hopefully, give some ideas to current master's students for their future. But most importantly, we hope that these interviews made you realise that there is a vast pool of opportunities out there, so there is no need to be anxious - only to be motivated and inspired. We would love to finish with Claudia’s ultimate advice: enjoy it to the most! “Every move to another country, every immigration bureaucracy, every packing and unpacking, every hard goodbye and warm encounter, all the stress looking for houses, all the people you meet along the way... Because, what you get in the end, is a diploma, the best academic experience ever, and a huge amount of Saudade”.