One of the major draws of the EPA program is the internship component. EPA offers you lucrative internships with the European Union that would be very difficult to get on your own. If you’re not a PoliSci or Global Studies major, don’t worry! There are internships in business, health, NGOs, etc. These organizations will often still be affiliated with the EU, so you can still make that distinction on resumes and when your parents brag about you in Facebook posts.
The internship is tailored based off of your interests, field and experience, which you convey to EPA and potential employers through a resume and cover letter. Do not skimp on this part. It may get rejected by study abroad, who must first approve it before submitting it, and it is best to put a lot of effort into it so EPA can properly place you.
My cohort was exceptionally large and MEP offices are pretty small, so we were asked if anyone had specific interests that they would be interested to help narrow down the search. I mentioned that I was interested in Public Diplomacy and the use of culture as an agent for diplomacy. This made me a perfect match for the European Network of Cultural Centres.
ENCC is funded by the European Union and works to create connections among cultural networks spanning across EU and non-EU countries. Their mission, which promotes arts, culture and unity, really meshed well with my goals and I feel this placement is wonderful. I am all the way out in Ganshoren, about an hour away from our student housing, but the commute is so lovely that I don’t ever mind and it’s a nice start to my day to walk to the office through Elisabeth Park.
My office is very small and tight knit, something which I really appreciate and has made it easy to transition into my role here. I have also been experiencing the differences in office culture between Europe and America, especially since I had just finished Co-Op before starting this current job.
Lunch culture, for example, is very different. It is not uncommon to either skip lunch or eat it at your desk in America. Even though I wasn’t paid for that hour and was encouraged to go get lunch whenever I felt hungry, the fact that no one really left to grab food or at least walk around outside made me hesitant to take advantage of my lunch break. In Brussels, people are almost uncomfortable when I say I don’t have lunch as the whole office eats together and it is a bonding time for everyone. I have since adjusted that habit in the month I’ve been here and genuinely look forward to that social repose in the middle of my day.
I will definitely keep observing the differences in office culture and make a whole post on the most interesting ones soon.
I’m super excited for the next few months and all the cool things I’ll be able to do while on this internship!