The European Parliament Office in London - a trainee's insight
"A traineeship at an EPIO is varied: one minute you could be creating a Tweet and the next telephoning an MEP's office informing them about an event we are hosting. You could be on a video call with Brussels or taking notes at a talk in your city."
Whilst searching for jobs last autumn, a friend sent me a link to traineeships for university graduates at the EP. As a keen linguist and politics enthusiast, I decided to apply and in December was delighted to learn that I had been accepted as a trainee at the Information Office in London for five months in March.
It was great to have social media training on day two with the director of Electionista, which stood us in good stead. Over the coming months, my task was to research for Tweets and Facebook posts and create material to post online as part of our go-to-vote campaign. Weeks in the run-up to the elections were themed in order to drum up public interest and included "business", "equality", "freedom of movement" and "the environment" as well as information about MEPs and candidates. Social media has been a huge aspect of my role and I definitely feel I have become more creative and passionate about its importance since starting this traineeship.
I quickly learnt that this is a very active office which regularly organises a variety of events. In my first week, there was one event to celebrate International Women's Day and in my second, I was sent on a "mission" to Swansea as we were hosting an event on Welsh culture and whether EU immigration has enriched it. Following the EP Elections, we hosted an election results night on 25th May and a post-election evaluation on 29th May. I was involved in preparations which included inviting guests, liaising with MEPs' assistants, creating invitations and programmes as well as ensuring that the events went to plan. I thoroughly enjoyed them and hope to continue coming after my traineeship is over.
I had the opportunity to do some media work too, including liaising with press officers, writing articles and press releases as well as carrying out a daily press review. Having had little previous experience in this area, it was refreshing to pick up new skills and I hope to be able to demonstrate these in my future career.
A key highlight is the opportunity that all stagiaires have to attend a plenary session in Strasbourg. I attended the first of the new parliament, which was incredibly interesting as I got to see the new MEPs taking office, and watch the group leaders, including two British MEPs, Syed Kamal (ECR) and Nigel Farage (EFDD) giving their opening speeches. I also saw the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi speak on the day Italy assumed the presidency of the EU Council. We also got to compare notes with stagiaires from EPIOs and attend press conferences and other DG Comm meetings whilst getting lost in the maze that is the European Parliament!
It has been an incredibly positive journey and I want to say a big thank you to the EPIO staff for making me feel so welcome and an integral part of the team. I will endeavour to continue building on what I've learnt and would certainly encourage graduates to apply.
By Samir Dwesar
Samir Dwesar was a trainee at the European Parliament Information Office in London between March and July 2014. Prior to interning at EPIO London, he studied Politics and French at the University of Bristol, spent two years teaching English in France and interned at the Houses of Parliament. He hopes for a career in politics/public affairs.