Options for students: Career booster for the EU

28 Jan 2022

LMU student Helena Arndt doubles up as an EU Careers Ambassador. She advises students on applying for internships or jobs at the EU.

Helena Arndt, EU Carreers Ambassador at LMU. | © LMU

Helena Arndt took up the post of EU Careers Ambassador for LMU in the current winter semester. First and foremost, the 23-year-old law student wants to share information about career opportunities at the European Union. In the interview below, she outlines the benefits of having the EU as your employer and discusses how young people can gain a foothold in the European world of work while still studying.

Helena, starting this semester you have taken on the role of EU Careers Ambassador at LMU. How is it going so far?

Helena Arndt: I am really motivated! Above all because I believe that lots of students toy with the idea of an international career at some point, be it with the EU or some other institution or company. But many of them have no more than a vague, abstract notion of what that entails. I want to try to give them a clearer picture.

The EU is an attractive employer

So, how exactly do you do that?

As an EU Careers Ambassador, I advise LMU students of any discipline on career prospects and opportunities for internships within the EU. I believe many people simply don’t know how to start a career with the EU. Also, many are of the opinion that the EU is an attractive employer only for legal professionals or political scientists. But that is not the case, which is why I try to encourage students of all subjects to get informed and apply.

And how can students start a job at the EU after finishing their course?

Well, there is the Generalist Competition, for example – a selection procedure that is probably the most interesting channel for many people, because if you get through it you are employed permanently as an EU official. That gives you a secure future.

Are there other ways to work for the EU?

Internship opportunities are the most attractive option for students, just to get a first impression. Internships usually last from three to five months. And there are all kinds of ways to complete internships across all the EU’s institutions. But when you’ve finished your bachelor’s or master’s course, you can obviously apply for the Generalist Competition.

Let’s stay with internships: They have a fairly international flavor to them, don’t they?

Brussels and Luxembourg are obviously the main locations, but there are others besides. The EU Commission has a representative office here in Munich, for example. Having said that, you should generally be willing to work away from home.

Doing an internship alongside your studies can be really tough. How well can the two be combined?

That depends. Most internships are full-time, so sitting five exams at the same time is barely feasible. But I also know of degree programs that include a practical semester: An EU internship would be ideal in such cases. On the other hand, even if there is no practical semester planned in for your studies, you should still apply – for shorter internships in the summer vacation, for example.

Keep the deadlines, be fluent in several languages

And what do you need to make sure your application is successful?

If you want your application to be accepted, the first thing is to keep to the prescribed deadlines. If a student approaches me, I discuss their resume with them and look at which internships or subsequent career prospects are best suited to their abilities.

Languages are also important, of course. You should be able to speak at least one of the three languages German, English and French. And because a lot of people speak English, it is obviously great if you have another language as well. But you don’t have to be fluent in eight languages to get a job or internship at the EU. In most cases, it is good if you are an EU citizen and have at least a bachelor’s degree. Even here, though, there are exceptions.

What is very important is that you stand up for the values and ideals of the European Union. Democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and freedom of the press should be important to you. You should also be very well informed about what is going on in the EU – especially with regard to climate change mitigation, the economy and the rule of law.

How can students who want to stand up for these values get in touch with you?

I have Facebook and Instagram accounts where I post job and internship vacancies, for example. And people can also contact me by e-mail at any time. There is also the option of sitting down with me to talk about individual career planning. Besides that, I also try to reach a wider audience at events such as careers fairs.

Working together

Apart from providing support for people who want to work at the EU, what do you personally expect from your work as an EU Careers Ambassador?

I mainly want to gain an initial insight into the way Europe works. There have been EU Careers Ambassadors since 2010. They are represented in all member states, which means that I work with people from 27 member states – an impressive number. There are twelve ambassadors in Germany, and we are constantly in touch with each other: We team up and try to organize joint projects and visit fairs together – in Berlin, for example. So we are not alone – it’s a lot of fun! Ultimately, beyond gaining initial insights into the work of the EU, I also hope to win many friendships.

That’s not so easy during the pandemic, is it?

It isn‘t. I was supposed to be trained for my work as a Careers Ambassador in Brussels. But because of the coronavirus, I attended the course online from home. I was given instruction in all relevant areas of my work, such as the proper handling of social media, the content of the internships on offer and how the Generalist Competition works.

There was also a kind of online speed dating arrangement with my colleagues in other EU countries. They were all sitting at home on the sofa, too, and everyone said a few words about themselves and their work. That is one way to meet new people, of course, even if being online obviously makes it a bit more difficult. But there are now 180 of us working together across the 27 member states. It is fascinating meeting up with so many people and getting to know other languages and cultures.

You will be EU Careers Ambassador here at LMU until the next winter semester. What would you say to students who maybe want to take over your position in the future? Is that a possibility?

Yes, of course it is! Part of my job is to find a successor who will take over from me. So just come and talk to me. I will probably advertise for a successor soon. And if everything goes smoothly, the new application process will begin in February. If you want to take part, you need to be enrolled at the university and submit your application before the deadline. I will be here to help you.

And what goals do you want to reach with your work in the meantime?

I hope I will be able to help and motivate people to begin their career path at the EU. The EU has the motto “Shape Europe together” – and that is exactly what I want to do. I see myself as a European through and through, and I am fully convinced of the European ideal. Advancing that ideal is the goal of my work.

To get in contact with the EU-Ambassador at LMU, visit Instagram or Facebook or write an email

The European Personell Selection Office informs about job-opportunities online.

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