Thursday, 21 February 2013

Filling the application

Every twice a year, when the period for submitting applications for the EC traineeship opens, lots of people eager to get a trainee placement will log in to try their luck. Here's my experience about this moment and how I have handled that process.

First, you should simulate you're going to apply, just to get a look at how the application form is, to then plan how to fill it. You should then think carefully at what parts of your CV are more relevant to this traineeship opportunity and plan to include them in the form. Also, regarding the questions you can elaborate on, you'll have limited characters for your answers, so you should better draft your answers first on a Word document, correct any mistakes and compose an answer already fit for the space limitations you're imposed.

Nevertheless, as for the motivation itself, I wouldn't worry so much about it. I have been told that those sections of the application form are just for the EC staff who is assessing the applications to see if the candidates have a good level of English and if they can articulate their ideas right. The pre-selection for the Blue Book is made by nationals of each country, that assess all applications coming from that country and that will rank them based on academic background, languages and professional/international experience... not caring so much about what you wrote as motivation. This part may only have some relevance once you're in the Blue Book and are being searched by the Units (it may happen that they search for a word that comes up in your motivation answer... or that they find your profile any other way and want to read what you wrote there). 

During the application phase there's not a lot you can do, except putting most of your CV into the application and hope that you can be among the "best" of your nationality in that session. Once you are pre-selected and get into the Blue Book, you can increase your chances by following the lobbying tips I suggest.

As a reference only, I am posting below my answers at the time (August 2012) to the questions you can elaborate on (bear in mind these made sense giving my profile).

General reasons for applying 
Currently, I am preparing my admission to the Portuguese Bar Association, which I expect to successfully conclude in the end of 2012. During my lawyer’s traineeship I have been working in one of the leading law firms of Portugal, where I provided legal assistance to several international companies and dealt with the daily issues that arise from their business practice. In several operations and activities I participated in, I had to deal with European issues (namely, while drafting contracts, performing research, analyzing documents and advising clients) and that is an area in which I would like to focus more and improve my knowledge. Through my previous international experiences and given my love for traveling, I always learned something new from the contact with a different reality and with people from different backgrounds, always feeling I was being more challenged in those situations than if I had stayed at home in the environment I am already comfortable with. So I would certainly enjoy the opportunity to live abroad again and gain work experience within and European institution, related to my field of study and work, but that would allow me to have a change from what I have been doing professionally over the past two years, so as to broaden my horizons while enhancing my career profile and improving my language level. This would be an opportunity for me to explore different working methods, dealing with different people from various nationalities and practice the knowledge I gained at university and at the work experience I already have, improving it in all possible ways. Plus, I am very fond of the European Union and the ideals inherent to its creation, so it would be a honor to work in one of its “hearts” – the European Commission – and be able to participate in some way in one of the centers where everything happens and where the “bricks” for a more united Europe are set upon each other everyday by everyone involved, with me being one of those persons. 

Type of traineeship 
I am applying for an Administrative Traineeship 

Preferred employment area: 

Motivation for the choice: 
I have a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in law and have been working in the past two years in one of Portugal's top leading law firms. Currently I am preparing my admission to the Portuguese Bar Association, which I expect to finish in the end of 2012, so when the traineeship starts I will already be a qualified lawyer. So, given my academic and professional background, I understand the Legal area of the European Commission is the most adequate one for me to perform this traineeship. 

Suitability for the profile: 
I have a solid academic background achieved in Portugal's top Law Faculty, with an one year experience in a Spanish Faculty as well. I have relevant professional experience in the area by working in a law firm. Additionally, I have great soft skills such as good communication and ability to present my ideas in a fluent and confident manner. I relate to people easily and am able to adapt quickly to new surroundings and situations. I have learnt to work towards, and achieve my aims with great commitment and perseverance. I am very organized and able to handle multiple projects at the same time. I feel comfortable both working within a team environment and on individual tasks

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