Bo recommends everyone to do an internship during their studies
Bo Dohmen graduated from the Master’s programme in European studies in 2017. For her it was easy to find a job and today she works as Public Affairs Manager at the European Flavour Association (EFFA).
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is working with people from multinational and multilingual environments. I have regular contact with the members of our Association, our stakeholders, such as other European associations, think tanks, industry alliances or the EU institutions. Another thing I really enjoy is working with food & drink related policy and learning new things about flavourings.
I think having a Master’s degree is definitely an added-value and has helped me to get a job faster.
Describe a typical day at work, what does it look like?
Before COVID-19, there wasn’t really a ‘typical day at work’. Some days I have calls with an industry alliance, a Parliamentary Intergroup meeting, or an Advisory Group with the European Commission. Other days we have calls within the committees of our membership or with our Board of Directors. On a regular basis, I also attend webinars/events organised by key stakeholders or the EU Institutions. Monitoring EU legislation and preparing advocacy strategies are also part of my job, as well as drafting position papers, briefing notes, and writing articles for the website/newsletter, etc. There are so many different things to do, which is what keeps it dynamic.
What do you benefit most from your education?
The two things from which I benefit most are: the profound knowledge of the functioning of the EU I obtained and the practical part of developing my communication, language, and presentation skills, as well as project management. The combination of my Bachelor’s and Master’s was the perfect match for this.
Do you think it is an advantage to have earned a Master’s degree when looking for a job?
Yes, definitely. For most jobs, in Brussels or elsewhere, having a Master’s degree is listed as a requirement. Whereas for others it may not be a requirement, but then it needs to be compensated by more years of professional experience. Therefore, I think having a Master’s degree is definitely an added-value and has helped me to get a job faster.
Did you find it easy or difficult to get a job after graduation?
In my case, it wasn’t difficult at all. I started looking for a job in the summer and I started working in September, even before I presented my Master’s thesis and received my diploma. Maybe it helped that I already knew what I wanted to do, which is working in public affairs in Brussels.
Your three best career tips, what are they?
The first one is: if you have the opportunity to do internships while you’re studying, do it! I highly recommend it, as it allows you to already acquire some working experience. It also increases your chances of landing a job immediately after your studies, rather than doing another – often unpaid –internship afterwards.
My second tip is to focus on building and maintaining (!) a strong professional network. A very handy tool is to create a Linkedin profile and to connect with people you meet. It is also important to maintain the network and get in touch with your connections even if its just to have coffee or a quick call to catch up. It’s a small world and you never know if someone can help you in the future, or the other way around!
Finally, from the beginning of your career, try to aim for a good work-life balance. When you just start working, of course you want to show how motivated you are, and you might stay in the office after working hours to pick up some extra work. There’s nothing wrong with being flexible and staying longer from time to time, but I believe it shouldn’t become a habit. Good time management and setting your boundaries from the start is essential to having a healthy work-life balance.