Looking for a career that combines language skills and politics? We interviewed British graduate Jack Keevill about his experience of working in EU affairs. Jack read Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford University and has an MA in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe (class of 2012).
Why did you wish to pursue a career in European affairs?
I’ve always found the idea of living and working abroad interesting, hence my decision to study languages. As I’ve grown up, I’ve become more and more interested in current affairs and politics. Working in European affairs is more or less exactly where the two meet.
Tell us about working as a stagiaire (trainee) at the European Parliament. What did it involve and how did you use your language skills?
I was working in the office of one of the senior officials in the Parliament’s administration. I did a bit of speechwriting – in fact, one of my first tasks was compiling a presentation to be given to the Italian Chamber of Deputies (despite the fact that I don’t speak Italian!). My work also included responding to requests for analyses and information from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), among other things. Being a trainee taught me a lot about the Parliament’s procedures, politics and the personalities involved.
Language-wise, the administration is a very flexible place. The three working languages are English, French and German. It was not uncommon for a meeting to switch from English to French and back again. Most of the work I did was in English, but it’s important to know French and useful to have some German.
Tell us about your current role as a researcher at GPlus Europe. Why were you interested in working for this company? Can you describe a typical day's work?
We advise our clients on their relations with the European institutions and the media. While my title is ‘researcher’, that doesn’t mean that I spend my days researching. I’m involved in monitoring the media, sending our clients political analyses and recommendations, organising events, writing speeches, and all sorts of other things.
I was interested in working for the company as it gives you the chance to work with a variety of clients and some very challenging cases. Often the things I am doing are related to front-page stories – it’s pretty cool seeing things unfold as you work on them.
What's the most interesting thing about working in European affairs?
The best thing is the people. It’s a cliché, I know, but the atmosphere here is unique; there are people from all over the world. The European quarter in Brussels is rather like a small village, so I constantly bump into friends.
What are the best and worst things about living in Brussels?
Easy! The best thing is the amount of good restaurants and bars and the friends I can go to those places with.
The worst thing is that unlike Flanders, Brussels is not very cycle-friendly.
If you were to learn another language, what would it be and why?
At the moment it would be Russian. It’s good to move beyond purely western European languages and it’s a huge country, with a fascinating history.
Written by Laurence Clayton-Trotman, Community Manager.