What have I learned during my internship in the European Union.
I will do my best to keep this article short and concise, but bear with me if it gets a little ‘messy’.Usually these kind of things start with the “my name is…” kind of introduction, but that is too boring and to be honest after 15 days of meeting new people I am kinda sick of introductions and talking about myself. I will just start by writing about why I came here and my overall experience and I’ll come back to my name later.
Let’s rewind the track back to the second semester of my second year, to the spring of 2016. Back then I was starting to actively look for my MA graduate options abroad. My goal was to find well respected university with the program that will challenge me but also the institution that can give me a full scholarship. So I made a list of 4 to 5 universities that I was interested in and I started emailing the admission offices. My intention was to get familiar with the process but more importantly to get the idea if I have a chance of getting in. The response was the same from all 4 offices that responded, it was along the line “your GPA is within the range, you lack in extracurricular activities”. That was a wake up call and I decided that I will say ‘yes’ to every opportunity presented to me in order to make my academic record more attractive.
So here I am In Bruxelles, Belgium, sitting in my apartment in the middle of the European District, overlooking the European Commission building, kinda unreal. Just 2 weeks ago I was watching this building on CNN, and now I am here, a 60 second walk away from one of the most important institutions of the EU.
View from the window, Commission’s Charlemagne building
Even though it was a challenge to make this short internship work for various reasons (one being school work) I would do it again for sure. The amount of experience and insight to the workings of the EU you get here is just too valuable to pass on.
From the moment you get out of the airport you are struck by the importance of this place. Soldiers safe guarding the airport in the groups of 4’s, always ready with their fingers inches away from the trigger. Soldiers patrols like this can be seen all over the town and are a constant reminder in what kind of a world we live in now. This gives even more value to the work these institutions do.
My internship was with the DUNEA,The Regional Development Agency of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County. This office, although small in size, has proven to be one of the most efficient regional offices currently operating in the EU, with achievements ranging from lobbying to get the funding for Peljesac bridge to everyday networking and sustainable regional development and cooperation. First few days of the internship we spent just exploring the city, getting to know each other and visiting our office. We shared our office with our Italian counterparts from the region of Molise.
Our office building
I was part of a group of 4 students from our region that had the internship at the same time. Together we attended many conferences, meetings, breakfast sessions (we really enjoyed those), and other formal or informal events. I also discovered that the best place for networking is usually the elevator but that is the story for some other time (it is not THAT kind of a story)! My favourite part of the whole thing were the 2 conferences with the EU Commission “The conference on the Future of EU Finances” and the “Evidence for policy in a post-fact world”, our visit to the European Parliament and a meeting at the Croatian Chamber of Economy headquarters in Brussels. My goal was to use this experience to see if this is something I could see myself doing in future, and it is a definite yes.
Launch of the European Day of Sustainable Communities
Conference on the future of EU finances
But what did I really learned in 15 days?
We were exposed to enormous amount of information each day, and at times that can be overwhelming. You can easily get lost in all the acronyms, jargon, technical words and the size of everything. But the common denominator of all the conferences and keynote speakers was that the future of all development (especially sustainable one) and therefore Europe are the grass root movements that can generate results in real time and be used as a proof of concept for later scaling.
Lastly, I’ve come to realise that the “experience” is the real currency in the European institutions. Experience here is valued more than your position, degree or title, so do not wait too long to start building yours.
To wrap up, I just want to thank the Libertas International University Dubrovnik for giving me this opportunity, to DUNEA agency and to the Hrvoje Butigan who is the representative of our region here in Bruxelles. My name is Maro Budrović, I am a third year student at LIU, and I’ve spent last 15 days in Bruxelles, Belgium. Ask me anything!