Juan landed a job in the EU advocacy sector
Juan José Fernández Romero works as Policy Assistant at an European patients´ advocacy organization. Much of the knowledge he gained and skills he developed studying the Master’s programme in European Studies (MAES), he still uses daily.
What is the best thing about your job?
Every day is different. As my duties evolve parallelly to major EU developments on health policy, I always get to work on what is being debated and decided on. Accordingly, I get to influence those policy files as they get closer to their final shape – all in the representation of the interest group that I work for (i.e., patients living with chronic diseases).
The Master´s programme that I took at the University of Gothenburg meant everything to me – and still does today.
Describe a typical day at work, what does it look like?
The first thing I would do is check my agenda for the day – what meetings do I have, upcoming deadlines, etc. Immediately after, I would quickly review all emails I get daily from the EU institutions to see what is the state-of-play of the policy files that I follow, to see if something relevant and/or new has been published. Then, I would get to do my tasks as planned. These consist of channelling my organisation's members´ needs and expectations to the EU institutions via all advocacy channels available (e.g., public consultations, by drafting and disseminating position statements, and/or by liaising with EU Officials or Members of the European Parliament directly; among others).
What do you benefit most from your education?
The Master´s programme that I took at the University of Gothenburg meant everything to me – and still does today. It was a great and unforgettable personal experience. Career-wise, it provided me with the necessary theoretical foundations upon which I have built all the professional expertise that I have today. In addition, I feel that it was the Masters’ that gave me the necessary push towards pursuing a career in the “EU Bubble”.
Do you think it is an advantage to have earned a master’s degree when looking for a job?
Building on my previous answer, this Master´s gave me the necessary theoretical foundation upon which I have built my professional expertise thereon. It proved crucial to me to be familiar with all major theories of European integration, the functioning of the EU institutions and their legislative processes, as well as with some research methods. Much of the knowledge I gained and skills I developed I still use daily.
Did you find it easy or difficult to get a job after graduation?
It was a daunting and lengthy task, although I always knew that it was possible. It took me about six months after graduating to find an internship in Brussels, which was then followed by another internship in an EU Agency. After that, I finally landed my first job in the EU advocacy sector. I have been working uninterruptedly ever since.
Your three best career tips, what are they?
1. Be patient. Things do not happen overnight – but they do happen to those who pursue them with sufficient determination.
2. Apply to all jobs that interest you relentlessly. The job market is very competitive, and you are likely to get a lot of rejections. However, if you keep on trying hard for long enough, you will eventually land your first job. And from there, it is much easier to keep on growing professionally.
3. Think of what you like best, and find a job that is as close to that as possible. If you enjoy what you do, you are much more likely to feel personally and professionally fulfilled.