"I cannot recommend working in the cabinet of a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) enough for recent graduates. In the first place, it's the perfect mix between politics and policy, great to get you started in both fields if you are unsure of which you like best. Secondly, it's a very fast-paced and dynamic work environment, which will help you develop a great range of soft skills that will be useful in later stages in your career. Finally, the work you undertake for a Member of Parliament varies by the hour, which in my experience, has allowed me to discover my professional preferences through practical experience. Just to give you an idea, a day in an MEPs cabinet can include writing an intervention for a Parliamentary Committee Meeting, writing a newspaper article on a pressing policy topic, engaging in a political negotiation with MEPs from other political groups and drafting amendments to a legislative text - all in the same day. As a bonus, you will get to travel with your MEP through Europe and be invited to attend seminars and events on a daily basis!
I would recommend students to aim for a traineeship in an MEPs cabinet right after graduation. MEP cabinets are extremely busy and the competition for traineeships is fierce: be proactive, do your homework and reach out to cabinets yourself. You can find every MEP’s email, and the names of their cabinet members, on the webpage of the European Parliament. Top skills to be successful in the selection process include demonstrating you are a good problem-solver, a good team player and that you work well under stress and tight deadlines. Cabinets in the Parliament are very dynamic and career progression is excellent: once you are inside the institution, if you build a strong network and prove your worth, I am certain you will land a full-time position in a matter of months!
Feel free to reach out for career advice anytime!"
Olalla Benito Rodriguez (Class of 2021, MSc in Political Economy of Europe)
Head of Cabinet for an MEP, European Parliament
Olalla is happy to talk further via LinkedIn and email.
"Working for a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) brings together the best of two worlds for me: in-depth policy making and fast-paced politics. For instance, I enjoy the combination of speaking with experts on specific articles of banking legislation, while also having to understand the impact of the Spanish elections on your MEP’s work.
As an assistant of an MEP in the ECON Committee, I advise my MEP on financial, economic and monetary files. This includes drafting amendments on legislation, writing speaking points for your MEP and speaking with relevant stakeholders. An example of my current work is briefing my MEP on the review of EU fiscal rules before negotiations on this file with MEPs from other political parties, in order to establish the position of the European Parliament.
The European Parliament is a very dynamic workplace, full with young and ambitious staffers and inspiring politicians from all across the EU. If you are interested in European politics and policy making, I can definitely recommend working here.
Most parliamentary assistants have found their job either by being active in a political party or because they have built up expertise on topics in the remit of their MEPs. Therefore, if you would like to work for a MEP, I would advise to first find out for which political party or MEP you would like to work or which topics you would like to work on. It is not uncommon to start with an internship at the MEP’s office or political party.”
Cees Jan Geuze (Class of 2016, MSc in Political Econoy of Europe)
Economic and Monetary Policy Officer to an MEP, European Parliament
Cees is happy to talk further via LinkedIn.
"Working in an MEP’s cabinet is unbelievably rewarding at its best and incredibly chaotic at its worst – but no week is ever the same and I would recommend the experience to anyone wanting to see how the sausage is made. The work offers a front row seat to the informal practices of EU decision-making beyond textbooks and provides an unmatched stepping-stone for further career development in Brussels from the institutions to consultancies to trade associations to NGOs.
Although there is no set path to landing a job in an MEP’s office, the most common ways are personal activity in a political party or work experience in a specific policy area. My own path followed the latter, as I spent four years in the private sector in Brussels working on energy and climate policy before starting in my current job. Meanwhile, two of my closest colleagues joined the office following an internship in the Council and from the secretariat of a national European Movement branch, respectively.
Much like career paths, the MEP cabinets are not all the same. The parliamentary offices are essentially 705 small enterprises where tasks, roles, and the number of staff members vary depending on the responsibilities, activity, and interests of each individual MEP. Thus, an assistant’s experience is always dependent on the MEP they work for. National conventions matter as well, and with national stakeholders and constituency work playing a role, some MEPs may choose to hire only from within their own language group or nationality. This is good to keep in mind when preparing to apply for a job in the EP.
Considering the sheer number of internship applications sent to the offices every week, the EU Bubble can be an intimidating and difficult realm to enter for any new graduate. The competition is relentless and it pays to have contacts which to leverage. Yet, it is good to keep in mind that beyond the MEP offices, the EP offers opportunities also with the political groups and the administration (Directorates-General). These paths are separate, as each political group is responsible for recruiting their own staff, while administrative officials and contract staff are hired through competitions organised by the Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). Putting your name out for the official traineeship calls is never a bad idea. I, for example, started out in Brussels as a Schuman trainee in the Parliament’s DG for Communication."
Otto Laird (Class of 2017, MSc in EU Politics)
Energy and Climate Policy Advisor to an MEP, European Parliament
Otto is happy to talk further via LinkedIn.