Traineeship at the European Parliament

To just let you know right off the bat, this traineeship has been one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far. I started the traineeship in March 2017 and will finish at the end of July 2017, and since the very beginning it has been a blast. It is not just the work that makes it the experience that it is, but also the city itself and the people that I meet. I feel it actually closely resembles the Willy Brandt school experience, a diverse group of people all together for a period of time, and all preparing to do great things afterwards.

If I had to be honest, what I enjoy the most would have to be the work I find myself doing. I am in the Visitors and Seminars Unit of the Parliament. The main task that we preform is giving presentations to visiting groups on the background, functions, and history of the European Parliament. We also organize thematic seminars for school groups on topics anywhere from migration and economy to digital society and security. This great because we have direct contact with citizens delivering the message of the Parliament. Plus, you never know what kind of people you’ll get, it could be a group of young university students to a group of pensioners, and it makes for many interesting conversations.


However, I don’t want to sugar coat things. It is not all planning events and meeting interesting visitors. There is a lot of tedious work as well, such as data entry, directing guests, and event preparation, as well as some uninterested visiting groups. While it may be tedious I do appreciate it none the less because I get to be involved in all levels of the unit. From the most cerebral to the psychical, it makes for a well-rounded experience and I can really see what make this unit tick.

My time at the Willy Brandt School has definitely helped me during this traineeship, specifically our policy brief training. While I am not writing policy briefs I do write many internal reports/briefs. I have come to understand that possessing the skill of taking large amounts of information and condensing it into 1-2 page brief (that is simple to read and understand) is a must.


I have also realized the importance of giving feedback. My unit is heavily dependent on visitors and colleagues feedback in order to improve their presentations and seminars. After every event I submit a small report of what can be improved and it is always greatly appreciated. But of course you need to know how to properly give and react to feedback. I learned this at the Brandt School, specifically in our project group. In our project group we were constantly responding to client feedback as well as giving it to our fellow members to improve ourselves, this has helped me greatly.

The biggest problem now that I am facing is coming to the realization that this traineeship will soon be coming to an end. It closely reflects my overall Brandt School feelings as well, both will soon be over. The friends that I have made will move on and the academic mentality will soon be replaced by a career driven one. It is quite sad sometimes to think about it, I always knew that these where just moments in my life. However, it brings me great joy when I realize that these experiences helped make me the person I am, and thus I will always carry these moments with me.

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Casey McKenzie is a second year student at the Brandt School, specializing in European Public Policy and International Affairs. He holds a BA in Political Science from Lewis University and a MA in International relations and European Studies from Central European University. His main research interests are European Integration and Citizen Engagement policy.