“Just show them what I choose, got nothing to lose”

Foster the People – Helena Beat

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The place where we were once happy

My traineeship finished last Friday and it still pains me to think about that, let alone trying to describe what I feel.

I have had work experiences in quite a few different places now, most of them with excellent colleagues and a nice atmosphere. Having said that, allow me to quote Sinnead O’Connor and proclaim: EESC, “nothing compares to you”. It is indescribable what having a taste of your desired career can do to you. It really is. And it is even better (or worse, depending on your point of view) when your team talks to The Powers That Be every single day – unbeknownst to your for a while – asking them to do something and make you stay. There’s got to be a way, they say. They point out “how ridiculous it is to let people like her go when we are so overworked and understaffed”. They become infuriated when finding out the European Commission is still allowed to keep trainees as interims, but all the other EU institutions aren’t. Let me rephrase that – WE become infuriated; count me in on that one.

I feel like Icarus in a way. I feel like I’ve been allowed to fly so close to the sun only to fall like I always knew I would – the first thing that they tell us when our traineeship begins is that “no trainees stay afterwards due to the new legislation, and if they do it is a true miracle”.

Life after a taste of your dream job can be pretty boring – especially when you did not manage to get another job or traineeship. It’s only been four working days and I can’t remember a week taking this long to pass. I sit down, send more applications and try to keep a positive attitude; “if it worked once, it will work again”, “if you don’t get the one you want, the right one will come”, say my ex-colleagues, who are way more experienced that I am and have been here and done this. I want to believe them, I have to believe them – but then there are those moments when you remember you have bills to paid, a life plan to share with the person you love and live with, and the phone simply won’t ring with a call for an interview, let alone a definitive offer. The only e-mail you get are your dad’s, and when they are not they always say “thank you but no” – and that’s when they are kind enough to reply back, because most recruiters seem to shield themselves behind the inconsiderate “only selected candidates will be contacted” line (it takes five minutes to get all the rejected applicant’s e-mails and BCC them with a general e-mail saying they weren’t selected, but god forbid people nowadays from being nice to each other! Nevermind that with every application they send, people are putting their lives on hold…).

I am not a quitter and never have been. I am a fighter. And I will fight until the end. Resilience truly is my middle name. I just wish job hunting – especially in Brussels – wouldn’t make one feel so worthless, despite evidence from your former workplace that you aren’t.

My former colleagues e-mailed me saying the office is not the same without me and infinitely more boring, that is hard to find someone with my enthusiasm and pleasure to work every single day, despite waking up at 6am everyday and taking two trains to do so. Maybe that was the key to it all – I felt so fortunate, so thankful, so happy to be there and being treated like an equal who offers valuable proposals and insight, so proud to be a name and not a number that the small annoying things didn’t even matter to me. And I want to feel like that again, for the rest of my professional life.

There’s an EPSO competition to pass, and damn right if I won’t go to hell and back to pass it all and get back to the place where I was once happy. But it is a one-year process and in the meantime there is a job to find. Let’s pray and hope that I am allowed to find it soon.