What a difference an institution makes

(or how I am so disappointed to see a pitiable practice trickling down to those who are, in the end, my peers)

Job hunting is a nuisance no matter what. It will always be a real pain in the neck (unless your family owns a company, then you’re a shoe-in and settled for life). Even if you have a EU traineeship – and that’s a really big deal to have over here -, it will still amount to nothing to certain recruiters, because it is not the “right” institution. Newsflash – if it’s not the European Commission and if it’s not the European Parliament (and, on a stretch, the European Council), then you are not “an immediate hire” (heard from the Head of a consultancy himself). Of course, we can’t pinpoint the the failure of a job application to this factor only, and that is not what I am trying to do here – I am just referring to this extra factor which is used as a reason for them to completely overlook your CV, no matter how competent and professional you are.

What really saddens me – and is the real reason behind this text – is to realise this attitude is settling among the EU trainees themselves.

I finished my EESC traineeship in February, but some of my friends have just started theirs. That means they will obviously share some of their experience on Facebook and other social media. So here I was yesterday afternoon, minding my own business, when I see that one of them plans to attend an event called “EU Trainees Debate #1”. Curiousity killed the cat, and I opened the event page to see what it was about – only to realise this event, organised by the E. Council trainees, apparently only includes “Commission, Parliament, and Council”. The trainees of the other institutions, as far as I could see, weren’t even invited to participate as members of the audience (which will be able to ask questions).

European Economic and Social Committee. Committee of the Regions. European External Action Service. European Ombudsman. European Court of Justice. All of these are European Institutions, and all of them offer traineeships twice a year. Are their trainees less than the ones from the legislative/executive institutions?

If I can begrudgingly understand (but not accept) the primacy often given to trainees from “the big three” by recruiters (most companies are after contacts in order to advance their interests and agenda, after all), I simply cannot be a happy camper when I see this mentality reaching the trainees themselves. In theory – and in the EU legislation – all trainees are the same, no matter the institution. We have the same allotted traineeship time (40h/week during 5 months), we are paid the same amount of money. To see the trainees discriminating among themselves makes me lose hope that this mentality will ever change.

I am fiercely proud of my EESC traineeship, of the things I have accomplished there and of the fact that they have tried, until my last day, to keep me. I know it help me to land a job, sooner or later. And it will make me feel even better to know I had to fight against adversity and – yes – institutional discrimination. But I will keep fighting and denouncing this issue past my “in-between jobs” phase. You can mark my words – because no cause is too small when you believe in it.


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