Lobbying: to do, or not to do? That is the question.
Everywhere the traineeships are being discussed, the lobbying issue raises. In my opinion, don't hesitate, do it! I have done it during the selection process for the European Commission traineeship, everyone else commenting in the internet forae that I have consulted during that time was doing it, everyone I know who did this traineeship in the past did it... so, don't think too much about and just accept that you have to do it too. It's inevitable!
As for the European Commission traineeship, here's a step-by-step description of what I personaly have done:
1st step: once you have sent your application, there's not much you can do until the selection phase approaches. But you can prepare the lobbying which you are supposed to do once you know you have been pre-selected.
2nd step: go to the EC website and check all the DGs that exist and, within them, all of its Units. As you you will see, there are plenty of them, so check the organizational chart for each DG that appeals to your interest.
3rd step: choose the Units that interest you and find the contacts of their Heads of Unit / Deputy Heads of Units. In the organizational chart for each DG you will normaly find these persons' names and then it's easy to find their e-mails (even though they are not displayed online). All e-mails from the EC are construed the following way: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also google the person's name followed by @ec.europa.eu and usualy you'll find an official document from the EC which will have their complete e-mail address among the results.
4th step: prepare an e-mail adapted to each Unit, to be sent the persons mentioned above. The e-mail that I sent had the following wording:
Dear Mr. *,
I was pre-selected as a Blue Book trainee for the traineeship in the European Commission starting in March 2013 and am very interested in taking part of it in the * Unit. I am a * years old *, with interest in *, having worked in that area of practice for the last * years in *. As such, a traineeship in your unit would be of great interest for me and I believe I can contribute to it with both my academic knowledge and my previous professional experience, both of which perfectly suit the work there performed.
Please find enclosed my CV for your reference and let me know if you need any further information. I am available for a phone or Skype interview, as you may deem convenient.
My contacts are:
Candidate number on Blue Book: *
I really look forward to hearing from you, as it would be a privilege for me to work in your team.
Thank you and best regards,
5th step: attach your CV. In this case, I have made a shorter version of my CV (just one page), I didn't send it in the European format.
6th step: have all those e-mails saved in the "drafts" folder and ready to be sent immediatly after you receive the confirmation from the Traineeship Office that you were pre-selected. It is quite important that you are fast to send them after being pre-selected, as many Units are very quick on choosing their trainees (and you have to imagine that hundreds of other candidates are doing the same as you).
7th step: wait :) for answers and phonecalls. In case you don't get an answer from an Unit within the first or second weeks, you can insist with an e-mail of this type (I did so):
I wanted to confirm that you received my e-mail below and ask you to consider my application for the selection process, in case your Unit is hosting a Blue Book trainee for the next session. Do not hesitate to contact me regarding any clarification you may need.
Thanks and best regards,
Et voilá, that's it! With some luck in the middle everything will work out and soon enough you'll have some contacts and interviews. But, if you don't, do not despair and start thinking you're not going to be chosen: there are many Units that don't do interviews or reply to these e-mails, yet they read them and choose you without telling you anything about it. So you may even receive a great surprise in the end!
As for me, I selected several Units in which I was interested to lobby and 4 of them told me I was on their selected list (with 3 I had phone interviews and one only an e-mail reply), but that I should wait for the official confirmation from the Traineeship Office. Apart from that, I got many nice answers from other Units, either saying that their Unit was not going to host any trainees this season, or that they had already picked another trainee. I would say I got a reply from 90% of the Units I lobbyied to and everyone was quite nice, so I haven't got any single bad reaction to the lobbying.
In the end, I was selected by the first Unit which interviewed me (just one day after I got the confirmation that I had been pre-selected, so also just one day after I sent the lobbying e-mail). The rule here is "first come, first served", so whichever Unit reserves you first on the Blue Book, that's the Unit which will "take" you.
Good luck to everyone who is applying!