Christiaan Boiten

MSc International Political Economy, 2013
Independent Consultant and Writer, Boitengewoon - Advisory and Strategy

Why did you choose LSE, and why did you choose your programme of study?

I applied for LSE because it was the most widely esteemed alma mater for a career in European Affairs in Brussels. My keen interest in policy issues affecting the international economy led me to choose the MSc in International Political Economy, which enabled me to further deepen my understanding of international trade policy and economic diplomacy.

Naturally, I was also drawn by the opportunity of living for a year in one of the world's greatest cities, London.

Overall, how do you look back on your LSE experience?

Not only did LSE help me build my desired career in Brussels, I also learned so much from (intercultural) exchanges with fellow students from all over the world. I consider the ability to develop meaningful working relationships across different cultures as one of the most valuable skills I have learned at LSE. Intercultural sensitivity is an invaluable skill on which I rely on a daily basis in my business and I cherish the international friendships that resulted from it.

How has completing MSc International Political Economy affected your career path? 

Combined with a previous MA in European Studies, the MSc in International Political Economy facilitated my entry into the Bluebook Traineeship of the European Commission. I was fortunate to land a prestigious post at DG Agriculture: for five months I provided analytical support to the unit dealing with, among others, the TTIP and CETA trade negotiations.

I managed to put these skills to good use in my follow-on job as a junior consultant at a Brussels-based public affairs firm where I focused on economic dossiers ranging from trade and investment policy to finance and energy.

Why did you choose your current job?

As a self-employed consultant I was able to draw upon a new set of skills when I got the chance to work with an international strategy consulting firm in London. Integrating these skills enables me to offer a more refined set of public affairs strategies to clients in Brussels and beyond. My London client put a premium on my LSE degree and language skills, which - along with my previous work experience - allowed me to make this partial career change.

What does your current job involve?

For my current client, I assist a bluechip multinational food company in developing its sales and market strategy in the Benelux region. By drawing on the stellar research and analysis skills I developed at LSE, I am able to deliver on providing state of the art market research for the client.

In the near future I seek to expand my client range by offering public affairs services to clients in the Benelux. Making your own business a success relies on relentless networking, sound research and analysis, good intercultural skills and a bit of luck. It also requires frequent travel: I divide my time between Brussels, London and Holland.

What advice do you have for LSE students who are looking to enter a similar profession to you?

For current students wishing to work in European Affairs, I would suggest to engage in networking. Whether this is organising activities with like-minded fellow students on campus, coming to Brussels for an internship fair or other networking events, or contacting LSE Alumni already in Brussels. It will help you get used to networking - a necessity in Brussels - and enable you develop your own network in Brussels.

Another method is to contact organisations/firms where you would like to work directly. The private sector (lobby firms, NGOs) is particularly open to unsolicited applications.

Publishing opinion articles is also a good way to improve your personal branding

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