Interviews with Ukrainian EU Trainees - Issue No.3 - Alexandra Marynets, European Parliament

Updated: Oct 15, 2019


This time Brussels Circle reached out to Alexandra Marynets, a former Robert Schuman trainee in the European Parliament


Name: Alexandra

Surname: Marynets

Age: 27

Country of origin: Ukraine

Educational background (university and degree):

- BA in transport engineering and logistics – National Transport University in Kyiv in Ukraine;

- MA in sciences of education (Expertise, engineering and international projects) – Université Paris Est Créteil in France

Modality of your traineeship (name of your programme, type of a traineeship, etc.): Robert Schuman traineeship

EU institution where you have/had your traineeship: European Parliament

DG or agency (when applicable): DG COMM

Any hobbies? Traveling, meeting different people, hiking, kayaking, reading and personal development

Brussels Circle: So, how did you find out about the traineeship? What is your backstory, so to speak?

AM: The backstory is too long to speak. Firstly, I have discovered about the traineeship at the EU institutions when we worked with the European Commission (EC) within the Youth in Action programme. I was about to graduate from an university in Kyiv and I even created an online application to apply for the Blue book traineeship at the European Commission, but did not manage to submit it back then. I thought that knowledge of only one European language, though one of the most widespread (i.e. English), was simply not enough to get me inside the Commission.

Secondly, coming back to the period of my life when I decided to apply (almost two years ago), I was studying at the university in France and it was obligatory to do a traineeship. For international MA students it is obligatory to do a traineeship abroad during the second year of studying. So I decided to think about something which was impossible for me to get in – a traineeship at an EU institution (especially given the existing limitations for the non-EU applicants).

During my first year, I did a traineeship at the French National Agency for the Erasmus+ Youth & Sports and it goes without saying that it was number one on my priority list at the time. This is why I became really worried about the second year and possible traineeship options at my disposal. Around the same time I took part in a conference about European issues at one of the local universities. Among many participants of the conference, there was a president of a local association, and he suggested me to apply next year for a traineeship at the EU institutions. I was a little bit skeptical and hesitant about the whole idea of applying, after all the competition is real. I did not think that I stood a chance to get in, but I kept it in my mind…

Brussels Circle: Did you manage to get your traineeship on the first attempt? If yes, then share the secrets of your success with our readers :)

AM: Yes, I did. Another backstory, not to make the first one too long :) I do believe that everything happens for a reason whether it is something good or bad. Actually, I wanted to apply to the EC, but it was too late as there were a few days left until the deadline… Around the same time I’ve noticed that an open call for the Robert Schuman traineeship in the European Parliament (EP) was open until mid-October. I started to think about the 2nd traineeship before I even started the second master’s year. In September 2017, my friend from Portugal with whom we spent almost a year during EVS in France, visited me on her way moving to Guadeloupe. She told me about the European Youth Event. I have heard about it before, but I did not have a chance to participate. Since that moment and onwards, I knew that my motivation letter would be focused on the EP’s unit that organises this event.

Honestly, since I started my second year, I had quite a busy schedule: classes every day from 9:30 AM to 16:30 PM, coupled with part-time work and need to do my homework. At the same time, I had my lunch breaks and two hours in public transport every day. Therefore, I used that time to complete my application form. I remember whenever my group mate went to a canteen, I used to say that I had something important to do. “Something important” led me to our library or computer class to work on my motivation letter. Now I can say that it was definitely worth it. Another important thing, you should find someone who would proofread the letter for you. I do think that it is of critical importance as sometimes you cannot notice tiny mistakes that can absolutely make a difference for you and your application’s success.

Brussels Circle: Did you have any other international experience (volunteering, traineeships, project activities etc.) before applying for the traineeship in the EU institutions?

AM: Of course, I did. I have started with international projects in the frame of the Youth in Action Programme now better known as Erasmus+, when I was a board member and project coordinator at the NGO “Ukrainian Youth Centre”. During summer holidays, I led volunteer workcamps in Germany and coordinated an international group of 15 – 30 young people who came from all over the world. Further, a nine-month traineeship in an international logistics company during my studies in Ukraine. And to crown it all, a one-year EVS in France. Since 2014, I have lived in France, so it could also be considered as an international experience.

Brussels Circle: Were there any legal, bureaucratic or organisational difficulties related to your relocation to Brussels? If there were any then how did you overcome them?

Answer: Yes, they always exist, but it was not a huge problem for me. As I live in France (it is very bureaucratic country, and those of you who live here would absolutely understand me, especially if you are from a non-EU country), I got used to such hurdles so there were no difficulties for me.

As you might have heard, there are several stages of competition and if you are shortlisted, the EP will ask you for some documents. I would say when you are applying you should be very careful with the information you are providing as they will check it in any case.

Brussels Circle: How would you describe the first day in the office just in one word?

AM: Discovering

Brussels Circle: And why is that so?

AM: Everything is new for you. You are becoming a part of such a big EU institution. When you are in the EP’s hemicycle for the first time, it is something breathtaking. You are in this huge building and you do feel rather lost. We were kidding with the other trainees that we need to leave some of our belongings behind us in order to find our way back.

Brussels Circle: How did your typical day in the office look like?

AM: As we were moving to a new building during our traineeship, I would say there were two parts of daily trainees’ life. Before moving, we were close to our team, so it was very easy for communication. For example, the office of my supervisor was just in front of mine. By the way, I was super lucky with my supervisor – the acting Head of Unit, EYE project coordinator as well as a powerful and organised woman and a team member of the Youth Outreach Unit. My role was to support the unit in the on-site organisation of the European Youth Event 2018, updating some key documents, recruiting and coordinating the volunteers (EP trainees and EP staff), making some research for the unit.

After moving to the new building, we worked in an open space with other EP trainees, so it was better to connect with them, especially when I had to ask or answer something about the EYE. Our open space was just near the beautiful terrace. After the EYE 2018, our unit was a part of the election campaign “This Time I’m Voting”, so I participated in different meetings, trainings on engaging young people to go to vote and build the “youth network.”

Brussels Circle: What was the biggest challenge for you during your traineeship?

AM: Well, just a few weeks before the EYE, all members of the unit were super busy, and we had to work sometimes outside of our normal working hours. Nevertheless, when you realize that you are a part of such a big event (almost 9,000 participants gathered at the European Parliament in Strasbourg for two days in June) it’s worth it.

The other challenge, I would say was the end of the traineeship. When you do not know what to do and where to go. Especially when trainees from the EU countries apply for the CAST or EPSO competition and you know that you are not allowed to do it because of your nationality (Brussels Circle: – CAST and EPSO are modalities open only for the EU citizens).

Brussels Circle: What can you tell us about the traditional Thursday gathering of EU trainees at the Place du Luxembourg?

AM: “See you at Plux” – that’s what you usually heard on Thursday :)

I didn’t go there every week, but when I went I enjoyed it.

Brussels Circle: In your opinion, how did the traineeship help you in your professional and/or personal development?

AM: It helps a lot in developing and gaining new skills, building new connections – network, better understanding of EU institutions and of course, it enhances CV. With that being said, I am just starting my job hunting.

Brussels Circle: What advice would you give to the future trainees and those considering to apply for the traineeship?

AM: I think it would be great to know where exactly you want to work and in which unit. However, as far as I know, the application process had changed and now you have the positions with descriptions for the traineeship.

I would suggest learning new languages and to live abroad before you decide to do a traineeship at the EU institutions. Be proactive once you get in. Finally yet importantly develop yourself, travel, expand your network and keep applying.

Brussels Circle: Thank you for this pleasant conversation!

AM: Thank you for asking me to share my experience. It was a big pleasure to reminisce these nice moments of my Brussels life. I hope my little story would inspire and motivate young people to apply and to do this traineeship.

European Parliament trainees

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