Interview conducted by Felix Lengers
Euroculturer Magazine: You are currently doing a Schuman Traineeship at the EPLO in Budapest. Why did you choose this organisation?
Dorottya Kósa: On the one hand, I felt I was getting comfortable with academia and research in general, and in order to move out from my comfort-zone I wanted to try my luck in the professional field as well. On the other hand, after spending many years abroad in various European countries, this time I wanted to make use of my knowledge in my home country. I just felt like working as a Schuman Trainee at the EPLO in Budapest was really my call. I perceived it as a perfect opportunity to incorporate my international experience into the local context, as well as a great chance to get involved in the vital work of the European Parliament.
EM: What do the activities for your function at the EPLO entail? What are you currently working on?
DK: EPLOs are under the Directorate for Liaison Offices, which is part of the Directorate-General for Communication, and it has a crucial role in connecting the European Parliament and Member States. EPLOs provide DG Communication with interpretations of national politics and local events, as well as they channel Parliament’s messages to citizens and stakeholders through events, media relations and social media. The EPLO in Budapest often organizes online social media events with experts and MEPS, programmes to raise democratic involvement and it has several projects focusing on youth engagement such as EUROSCOLA or EPAS. The EPLO in Budapest offers two traineeship positions in every semester, one for public relations, and one for press. I am working in the press position, and it is incredibly exciting because by its very nature information is running through it. This means I do a lot of translating, briefing, press reviewing, and media covering. As a result, I am always up-to-date and on top of the political events in Europe and beyond. Dealing with news all day long have already improved my critical thinking and provided me with a special expert approach to information, I truly enjoy it!
EM: To what extent can you apply the knowledge you gained from the Euroculture Master to your internship?
DK: Groningen thought me to apply a critical approach in my studies and provided me with expertise to write concise but thorough texts that are both professional and enjoyable to read. This is a great asset to have in the press unit because I often have to produce background notes and summaries of relevant news. Strasbourg prepared me with competences in project management, that help me a lot to systematically organize everyday tasks and plan future steps for it. Finally, Krakow’s dynamic research track further developed both my quantitative and qualitative analytical and evaluative skills. When I am working on a media coverage I often make use of the knowledge I gained at the Jagiellonian University as a research assistant. Overall, I think all three universities contribute to my current professional experience.
EM: What was the most difficult thing you encountered after starting the traineeship?
DK: Obviously, I did not expect to become a Schuman Trainee at the times of Covid- 19. In the EPLO in Budapest in order to comply with the health and safety measures we are mostly working from home, but we also get to spend one or two days a week in the office. Thus, I had to set up a “home office” which was something I did not calculate with and that can definitely be challenging. Well, I am sure it would be totally different to experience this traineeship at “normal” times, but I actually believe that I can still benefit from these exceptional times because I can learn flexibility and alternative ways to fulfil my tasks. In addition, this way I get to participate online events I would not be able to do so offline. Also me, and my fellow EPLO colleagues, are more motivated to organize virtual events, projects and meetings to get to know each other better. In addition, MEPs now are participating debates and voting sessions from the EPLOs, thus it is always very busy and exciting when there is a plenary week.
EM: Did you have any expectations before starting this internship and if you did, did they live up to the reality?
DK: One would think that in such a supranational and complex institution there is a great hierarchy between different units and employees. However, it is absolutely the opposite. At the EPLO in Budapest, everyone was super welcoming and friendly from the very first moment. I mean, we still take our tasks seriously and we know our priorities, but there is always space for preferences and ideas. My supervisors are all open-minded and approachable people. I am sure I will learn a lot from them.
EM: How do you envision your future career after your current experience? Would you consider working at this specific organisation or did you discover new possibilities you would like to look into?
DK: I wrote both my IP paper and my thesis on European citizenship, because I believe it can effectively respond to increasing social exclusion and uncertainties concerning climate change or peace and security. These challenges can greatly influence the future of European youth, thus it is extremely important to educate them about the ways they can become active participants of democratic and sustainable societies. In the future, I would like to keep working on issues related to European citizenship, education and youth. I would love to work in a European institution where I can specifically focus on my interest; however, I could definitely see myself working for the European Parliament as well either here at the EPLO in Budapest, or in Brussels or Strasbourg. This internship already provided me with precious insights and presented me various possible future directions. I feel like on the long run I would like to reach my full potential in research-based policymaking.
EM: Is there something you would like to add?
DK: When talking about Schuman Traineeships I feel like EPLOs are a bit underrated, although they have so much to offer! Maybe this is why; I would like to encourage everyone to consider Schuman Traineeships at EPLOs! Not only you can exploit your knowledge in your home country, but also you can contribute to the prominent work that links member states and the European Parliament. Therefore, you get to experience how the EU becomes a reality through its people – us, citizens of the member states. So, I would like to remind those interested, that Schuman Traineeship applications are still open, but only until the end of November, so hurry up!
EM: Thank you very much for answering these questions! We value your contribution and believe it will be useful for prospective and current Euroculture students!
Picture Credits: Personal File