Meet the Erasmus Graduates whose business is bringing EU funding to Italy’s entrepreneurs: Life after European Studies Interview

 

Eoghan Mark Hughes

Euroregion Consulting was founded to act as a translator for businesses who are seeking European funds in Udine, Italy. A translator, as co-founder Mattia Anzit puts it, “for dummies”. The problem for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is that they are often engaged in such complex, technical work, that if they want to gain access to European regional funding, they are going to need a team capable of navigating a dense bureaucracy and translating high floating concepts into understandable plans. Mattia and his co-founder, Selina Rosset, are Udine’s solution to this problem.

The Italian founders of Euroregion Consulting, are an energetic team, bouncing back and forth off each other throughout the interview, finishing each other’s sentences and lending each other the odd English phrase or two. Having met during the Euroculture Master program, which they both studied in Udine and Strasbourg, Selina says that if it were not for the program, Euroregion Consulting would never have been founded. Despite the fact that the two of them have lived in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy all their lives, they had never met before. As Mattia explains, he is not from the capital, Udine, like Selina, but from a small town, which he insists that I have never heard of.  Vibrant and chatty, the team joked about Italian bureaucracy, confused entrepreneurs and the problems facing young people and students in today’s economic climate. My interview with these two former students of European studies through Euroculture touched on life after graduation, entrepreneurship and European business in a Eurosceptic age. Continue reading “Meet the Erasmus Graduates whose business is bringing EU funding to Italy’s entrepreneurs: Life after European Studies Interview”

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Professional tips from a EuCu graduate: “Blindly applying for jobs everywhere is a waste of time!”

brussels 3
For some, getting a job in Brussels is a dream come true. © Yu Xichao

Penelope Vaxevanes│prosiliomani@hotmail.com

MA Euroculture Programme is over for the 2011 – 2013 students and now most of them are on the hunt for a job or an internship – their gateway into the professional world. There are a few among those students who do not have to do this because they have already secured a place in the job market. I talked to my very good friend and fellow classmate from Goettingen, Angie Dominguez Sahagun, about her new life in Brussels working from the AEC – European Association of Conservatories – on how her job relates to the program and what she suggests to the MA Euroculture graduates when looking for a job.

1. Hi, Angie. Can you briefly describe the association and the position?

Hi. The AEC – European Association of Conservatories is a cultural and educational network working at an international level with over 280 member institutions for professional music training in 57 countries. Within this association, I coordinate a specific project called “Polifonia” (www.polifonia.eu). This project is founded by the European Commission and it addresses European higher education policy issues from the perspective of higher music education.

“At AEC, I coordinate a specific project called Polifonia…

2. How did you get the position?

I did my internship, as part of the MA Euroculture professional track, in the association, but my tasks were not directly related to the project I am developing now. I was in charge of general administration and tasks regarding event organisation and gradually became involved with the project. A position became available within the project team and I decided to apply even though I had not finished the MA Euroculture program. I went through a long and quite stressful application process but finally I got the position, mainly because I had already been working for them. During that internship I had proved my interest and I was already partly trained, which made things easier in general.

“When the position became available, I decided to apply even though I had not finished the MA Euroculture program…”

3. How is the position related to MA Euroculture?

The position involves coordinating institutions from many different countries, you need to have good communications skills and be able to work in an international environment. Also, the project is mainly founded by the EU; therefore, it is convenient to be familiar with how the institutions work and how the projects are developed at this level. Despite this, most of the skills that the position demands need to be acquired through practice. Thus, I do believe MA Euroculture has helped me develop the necessary soft skills to deal with this position.

“It is convenient to be familiar with how the projects are developed at institutional level…”

4. How is life in Brussels? Is it the right place for graduates of MA Euroculture? What are the good and bad things?

In my case, I don’t work directly in contact with the EU institutions. AEC is based in a small office in the centre, which makes it quite familiar and personal. Most of the time I move only in the same neighbourhood so I don´t have the feeling of being in a big metropolis. Brussels is a very active cultural capital. You have interesting events on a daily basis and many chances to know people from many different countries. You have all the advantages of a big city but it is not overwhelming. Also, if you are not that eager to work in collaboration with the EU institutions, you have many other opportunities in small foundations and independent organisations. It is definitely a good place to start your career, create contacts and get familiar with how projects work in a European level. The city itself can look a bit grey in general, the weather doesn’t help and it is considerably expensive to move around. However, you can find nice places and it is very well connected, you can leave the city for a weekend and visit many European cities quite easily.

“Brussels is definitely a good place to start your career…”

5. Plans for the future?

I am staying in Brussels until the end of the Polifonia project in September 2014; but I have no plans beyond that deadline. Most of the projects work by cycles and you don´t know if the project you are working on will be selected for a new cycle, which makes settling down quite a challenge. First of all, I would need to figure out if this is the field I would like to work in the future. If the project doesn’t get selected for a new cycle, I would try to apply for a similar position but possibly not in Brussels.

“Settling down is a challenge…”

6. What would you recommend for the graduates of MA Euroculture? What should they do when looking for a job?

In my case, getting the position was considerably easy. I was lucky that I was in the right place at the right time… However, for this to happen, it is necessary to be flexible and active. Opportunities won’t knock on your door, you have to go for them and display a positive and hardworking attitude. The application processes can be very tricky, especially in places like Brussels where there is a lot of competition. You have to prove you have something to offer that the rest of the applicants don’t. Blindly applying for positions everywhere is a waste of time, you have to be very specific and convincing, and the only way to get that, is by being really informed about the place you are applying to.

“You have to be very specific and convincing and also, very informed…”

Thank you very much, Angie, for sharing your story! 

If you want to know more about EuCu life, especially near the end of graduation, also read https://euroculturer.eu/2013/04/04/dont-be-lazy-go-out/

penelopePenelope Vaxevanes, News Editor

Penelope is from Greece and studied French Language and Literature for her BA in the Philosophic School of the University of Athens. During her MA Euroculture years, she studied in Goettingen(1st and 4th semester) and Krakow(2nd semester) and did an internship in Hamburg. She recently got a job in Barcelona and is very excited to start her post EuCu life.

“She works hard for the money”: Euroculturers’ most random summer jobs

Helen Hoffmann │helenhoffmann@outlook.com

My first summer job was shit, and I mean this literally. When I was still in school, I worked in a local hospital as an underpaid cleaner and helper to the nurses. Not born an early riser, this meant dragging myself out of bed every morning at 3 a.m. to start my shift at 4.30 a.m. One day, my boss asked me to clean a bathroom that was “quite contaminated”. After that experience, which as mentioned was literally crap, I could clean anything I ever encountered in my many student homes. That summer I learned that with gloves, I can face most anything.

“That summer I learned that with gloves, I can face most anything.”

Summer is already here but you might still hope to be spending your Euroculture-free summer working at a nice place. Maybe that place, too, will turn out to be a little out of the ordinary. And possibly you will get some useful lessons for life there – with or without gloves.

I wanted to know where other people have worked to make a part-time living so I spoke to three former summer workers in the MA Euroculture network. Testing alcohol levels, teaching history to ignorant tourists, interviewing celebrities – Euroculturers have had some peculiar jobs.

Rieke: Hunting drunkards

RiekeWhen Rieke applied for her summer job, she could already sense that it was a job out of the ordinary. A bunch of weird people, a lot of strange interview questions. “When my friend and I got out of there, we burst out laughing!”

“A summer job with handcuffs”

Still, she and her friend decided to take the job and the next thing they knew they were standing in big fairs in the German countryside with handcuffs. She was sent out as a “Promille-Girl”, an alcohol tester dressed in a fake police uniform and equipped with a measuring instrument to check people’s breath. What is feared on roads, proved to be popular among party people.

“Some people even handcuffed themselves to me

and stole my police hat.”

“You didn’t have to know much,” Rieke remembers. During daytime the job was easy, but when night fell and alcohol levels rose, fair visitors would crowd around her. During working hours she had to be completely sober of course – but everyone else was heavily drunk. “A terrible situation!” she recalls. “Some people even handcuffed themselves to me and stole my police hat”, Rieke laughs. It was mostly men who wanted to test their alcohol levels and sometimes even deliberately drank a shot before. Not everyone trusted the measuring device though. “Some doubted the results and sometimes we got an “Error!” message when people had way too much alcohol in their breath.”

The “Promille-Girls” charged 2,50 euro for testing, but only got 20 cents of that themselves. On a good day, they would earn 90 euro each. Rieke only worked as a “Promille-Girl” for one summer. “Getting to the fairs often took a very long time,” she says. Before and after this alcohol experience, she worked in other promotion services – with less of an alcoholic element.

Rieke studies MA Euroculture in Groningen and Bilbao.

Giota: Giving history lessons to tourists

As a sales person for tourists in Athens, Giota did not have ideal working conditions: a normal day meant 11 hours of work with a rude boss that liked yelling at employees. But the salary was okay and the co-workers were great. “I was working six days a week and I never knew when my day off would be. But I needed the money so that I could stay in Athens.”

“You sold me a broken Parthenon!”

Giota’s favourite customers were from the USA and India. Working with tourists was at times even amusing. “Once a guy came and wanted a miniature of the Parthenon. I gave him a replica of how it is today and he replied that he wanted another one because the one I gave him was broken!” The customer was not joking and Giota had a hard time educating him about the state of the ruins. In the end, she told him that he could buy the other half in London where half of the real temple is today!

“I learned that I can do anything if I want to.”

Even if the job was not always enjoyable, Giota feels that she gained some useful insights. “First of all, I learned that I can do anything if I want to. If I want, I can go past limits and work many hours.” Her interest in working with people from abroad was also fostered through her job as a tourist helper. It helped her to realise the differences in culture and mentality.

She quit her job after a while and is now looking for a Master’s programme. MA Euroculture would be an interesting choice to her.

Giota is from Greece and likes The Euroculturer magazine. She heard about it through her friend Penelope, our News Editor.

Murat: Interviewing KGB agents

Murat Tutar had a television intermezzo in his most random summer job. For three weeks last summer, he worked at a TV channel inMurat Tutar @ Haber Türk TV his home country of Turkey. “It was everything”, he remembers, “Fun, passion, pain, gossip, lies, discipline!”

 “You discover what is happening behind the screen.”

Working conditions were, however, precarious. No contract, no payment, no insurance, but he wanted to gain experience in the media world. Like so many other students working in summer jobs or unpaid internships, he recounts feeling “like a slave” at times. Murat describes the TV station as the CNN of Turkey: to get the opportunity to work at Habertürk TV was in itself a success. “You actually learn a lot in a short time”, he sums up, “because you discover what is happening behind the screen”. How to prepare a broadcast, talk to people on the streets, search for news, as well as familiarising himself with the rules and regulations of media work was part of his job. Knowing everything was the dictum.

His position was very informal: he was an intern, correspondent, interview, advertiser, and reporter – all at the same time. “You just go and work there, you learn, show what you can do”, Murat remembers. The employers wanted to see if he would be suited for a job at the TV channel. Getting hired was an option, but the Euroculture office called and offered him a spot in Krakow instead.

“Anna Chapman is in Istanbul now. Go find her and do an interview!”

The most exciting incident happened one afternoon when Murat’s boss walked in and asked if he spoke English. “Here is your mission”, his superior instructed him. “Anna Chapman is in Istanbul now. Go find her and do an interview!” A lot of questions popped into Murat’s head. Questions that he had to answer in the five minutes before the cameraman and the taxi were ready. “Who exactly is Anna Chapman, where is she, and how can I find her?” In the streets of Istanbul, with a population of 14 million, Murat set out to find the Russian ex-spy and now TV host, Anna Chapman. He did manage to find her, in a café, and convinced her to accept his interview request. “It happened entirely spontaneously. That was what I liked so much about my job: you go into the office in the early morning and it seems like nothing is happening, but then suddenly everything is turned upside down because of a particular piece of news,” Murat explains.

After this job, he does not watch the news like he did before. Working at the TV channel changed his perspective: “I know how much they cut and skip now. I don’t believe everything so easily any more”. To see the whole process of research and broadcasting was an enriching experience for him. Murat had taken media classes before, but real-life TV was a whole new world. Still, he is glad today that he exchanged the TV camera for the student’s desk again. “Euroculture is so many amazing topics to discuss. It’s new and exciting”.

Murat is a current MA Euroculture student at Jagiellonian University, Krakow and Palacky University, Olomouc.

What was your weirdest or best summer job? What do you think about working conditions for part-time workers? Let us know in our commentary field!

Helen new profileHelen HoffmannCreative Editor

Helen is from Germany and studied BA History and Gender Studies. She studied Euroculture in the University of Göttingen and Uppsala University, and did an internship in the PR department of the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce. Her passion is to dive deep into the Swedish-German relationship and deconstruct the German über-idyllic image of Sweden. This summer, she works with visitors coming to Stockholm. Her interests are film, literature, Liechtenstein, the Eurovision Song Contest (and not ashamed to admit it), and everything printed – even TV magazines. She’s also fascinated with communication, marketing and commercials, socio-cultural trends and psychological phenomena. And of course, her interests include the Swedish Royal Family (she will never forgive Jonas Bergström for what he did).