Internships: Bridging the gap between academia and the professional marketplace
In European universities, internships are increasingly becoming an important part of pre-professional training. Brussels, a city unique in its location and in its role in European politics, offers students a host of outstanding opportunities for challenging, high-quality internships. Furthermore, the presence of the European Union has contributed to the city’s attractiveness to a diverse, motivated and international crowd of young people, all hoping to obtain high-level professional positions as a result of their Brussels internship experience.
These factors give the town, and particularly its European quarter, a very special flavor: it’s a place where a cosmopolitan community of young people meet, work and and, in practice, cooperate to construct a new Europe. Add to this the presence of other international institutions, like NATO, numerous international NGOs and a thriving and equally cosmopolitan business community, and it’s clear that Brussels is an ideal place for students to make this important first step towards a high-level career.
The Internship Programme at Vesalius College, the prominent English-language undergraduate college in Brussels, offers its students a unique opportunity to become part of this community of young interns for one semester, while at the same time continuing their studies and receiving academic credit for their internship. The Vesalius Internship Programme offers internships in Business, Communication and International Affairs at important firms such as Citibank and MasterCard, at EU-related media centers such as the European Journalism Centre and the weekly New Europe periodical, but also at key European political organizations such as the European Parliament, NATO, Missions to the EU, lobby organizations and advocacy groups such as the European Youth Forum.
The internship experience in Brussels provides student interns with the unique opportunity to be actively involved in a high-level professional environment, regardless of their field of interest. Working at the European Parliament or with advocacy groups, for example, gives students the opportunity to participate at a critical level in the policy-making process. It can include participation in plenary groups or committees of the Parliament, and in meetings with high-ranking officials from the European Commission or member states.
Internship positions can give students experience in any field of European policy-making, but frequently expose the student to a global perspective. For example, in the case of NGOs, student interns typically work with the relations between European institutions and the world. In their internships, students are also commonly offered opportunities to travel with their sponsoring organization. For example, many students working in EU organizations have been given the opportunity to travel to Strasbourg, the other seat of the European Parliament, but some have even found themselves involved in missions to African countries, or other locations where European involvement is key.
Internships can provide students with an invaluable high-level professional experience and can give them the opportunity not only to test their acquired knowledge and skills but also to build a professional network. Vesalius College’s global internship experience in Brussels offers its participants a crucial head start, a winning card for the beginning of a professional career in Brussels or anywhere else in the world.