One of the great but perhaps as yet untold success stories of Ireland has been the fantastic achievements of Irish people who work for the various EU institutions. The more well-known names who might come to mind are Pat Cox who was President of the European Parliament or Catherine Day who led the European Commission or former Taoiseach John Bruton who served as EU Ambassador to the United States of America. Behind these public figures are the many other Irish people who work at the range of EU institutions in Brussels and elsewhere, establishing a reputation for hard work and excellent networking ability.
As well as pursuing a dedicated European career, hundreds of young Irish graduates also apply each year to undertake temporary contracts which may lead to permanent work at EU level or may instead be an important step in a career in their chosen field back in Ireland or elsewhere.
The EU institutions and agencies manage one of the world’s biggest ‘Traineeship’ programmes. More than 2,000 young Europeans move to Brussels or elsewhere to complete a 3 to 5 month long ‘Stage’ which is the French word for traineeship. Although temporary, most of the positions are paid, with trainees typically taking home between €1,000- €1,200 per month.
It is important to note that the institutions are not focused on one type of candidate but are looking for an array of talent across all sectors, including: administration; communications; development; language; law; policy; statistics; and project management, just to name a few. So, whether it is the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Court of Justice or a European agency, they all provide working opportunities of all types at all levels.
In Ireland, European Movement (EM) Ireland provides a weekly ‘EU Jobs’ listing where all of the ‘Stage’ opportunities are listed. We also include graduate roles at a variety of international agencies, public relations firms and NGOs. You can sign up to receive it free every week by email. Anyone considering a move to Brussels or who has been accepted for a ‘Stage’ there can also get a copy of ‘The Green Book’ which is available on the here or in hard copy from our office by calling (01) 662 5815.
For permanent or longer fixed-term contract roles, the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is the recruitment service for all of the EU institutions and agencies and the best way to access it is online. The website provides detailed profiles of vacancies, audio from current EU officials, and very useful ‘mock tests’ to give applicants a good sense of what’s involved. Requirements usually include a degree from a third-level institute and the ability to speak two officially recognised EU languages. Our native Irish is a recognised as one of those, and so if your Gaeilge is good enough to pass the language test, it can be used as the required second language, along with English.
For more information which is specifically aimed at Irish applicants for all EU opportunities, the European Affairs section of the Department of the Taoiseach webpage has a dedicated site. The Department also provides occasional sessions for specific recruitment drives or for more general advice on EU careers. It is really worth checking the site regularly. With support from the Department, EM Ireland and Careers Portal also developed a dedicated section for job seekers, ‘Irish Voices – EU Careers’ which was launched by Minister of State for European Affairs Dara Murphy TD and is accessible via the Careers Portal site.
Universities and Institutes of Technology here also run Careers Fairs where there is usually an expert on ‘EU Jobs’ in attendance. Finally, the Irish offices of the European Commission and the European Parliament are excellent resources for information and general advice. They are both located at Europe House in Dublin.