1.Where did you do your internship and what was your role?
From May to September 2017, I was a trainee at the Directorate General (DG) for Competition of the European Commission. Based in Brussels, the DG is in charge of implementing competition policy for the European Union, mostly through the analysis of State Aid and Merger notifications originating from Member States, and through antitrust regulation.
As a member of Unit H2 (State aid in the areas of Research, Development & Innovation, and Environment), I was assisting case handlers in their daily case work of analysing notifications of measures. I was assigned to the drafting of the acceptance decision of an employment measure providing tax incentives to employee share option schemes for innovative SMEs. I also worked on a measure’s notification aiming at allocating aid to support the activity of a large company in the car sector. Finally, I was entrusted with the task of coordinating the annual monitoring exercise within the unit.
2. How did your studies at TSE help you during the internship?
I did this internship at the end of a M1 “Economics and Law” at TSE. Working at DG COMP thus was an amazing opportunity to apply the theoretical approaches to competition we studied in class. Although my economics training was very useful to fully understand the reasons behind the European Legislation on State Aid, I mostly used the legal side of my academic background. DG COMP has a specific Unit responsible for the economic side of the other Units’ cases: the Chief Economist Team. The knowledge I gained through the Competition Law and Business Law courses were of particular interest. I knew most of the regulations and specific vocabulary used by my Unit before starting the traineeship.
The international aspect of the school and the numerous international students I met during my years at TSE also helped me to quickly bond to the European team I was working with.
3. How did you find the internship? What would be your advice for students looking for a similar internship?
I was very lucky to get this internship as I did not apply using the usual process. A friend of mine had applied for a traineeship at DG COMP but had already started another internship by the time she got accepted. Due to their urgent need for a trainee, the recruiters asked her for any other interested candidate and she forwarded my resume. I was contacted on the next day and started my internship two weeks later.
To find an internship at DG COMP, I would recommend applying to the Blue Book program that opens twice a year on the European Commission’s website. Although it is a very selective program, the Blue Book traineeship offers several benefits (interesting wage, refund of travel expenses…). The application for the spring round closes towards the end of August. Whether you miss the deadline or do not get selected for the Blue Book program, you can still apply for an “atypical” position. Such a traineeship is in fact an unpaid and unofficial version of the Blue Book. Less advantageous, it is also a less selective internship. The tasks assigned to the atypical trainees however are similar to the one of the Blue Book’s ones. To apply to such an internship, students should look for the Human Resources’ email address which can be found on DG COMP website in the “Visitor Scheme” section.