• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site
04
July

“Internship in the European Parliament – Welcome to the EU-Bubble!”

Mert Bircan, 2-year MIB student from Germany about his internship at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Mert, tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from, where and what did you study before MIB?

I am a Business Law graduate from Hamburg, Germany, and I obtained my Bachelor’s degree at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences Hamburg. As an elective course I specialized myself in M&A Law, which helped me in our international consulting project with Henkel AG, where as part of a potential acquisition of a Russian-based beauty care company, I calculated a purchase price and successfully identified cost-saving synergies. During my studies in Germany, I interned for an institutional real estate investment fund and worked for two legal tech startups.

You are a second - year MIB student and now doing your internship at the European Parliament in Brussels. How did you find out about this opportunity? How was the application process?

A public lecture by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on EU-Russia relations at the Higher School of Economics Moscow sparked my interest in Politics and International Relations. I started to follow more public lectures, for example from Markus Ederer, who is an EU ambassador to Russia. Moreover, I had an interesting visit in the State Duma in May 2018 and understood that International Business is more than Finance, Business Development or Marketing; International Business Lobbying is an important tool and therefore it is necessary to understand political mechanisms. After talking to friends, who also interned in the European Parliament, I wanted to know what happens away from cameras in the EU institutions in Brussels. To change that, there was only one way - to look behind the scenes. I applied to several MEPs as an intern and was really lucky to have received an acceptance because internships in the EU are in great demand.

Tell us about your experience at the European Parliament. What did you like and what were the challenges for you? What did you do and what did you learn?

On Monday morning, I met with a colleague of my MEP in front of the European Parliament (EP). Before you can enter, you must first be "accredited". You need to receive a special passport similar to the identity card with a photo, name and a job title. This "badge" is something like a ticket to the EU-world. You always have to carry it and you can use it to open the revolving doors in the Parliament to get inside - after a previous security check, of course. What I really enjoyed during my internship was the international environment. Every day you meet people from 28 different member states with different backgrounds and you are able to work with them together. One highlight was when I went to the Economy and Monetary committee meeting on behalf of my MEP and had a consultation with the Polish, Portuguese and Dutch Delegation regarding votings for amendments. It wasn’t world-shaking but you had the feeling that you are part of a big whole. Moreover, I enjoyed visiting some events that take place in the EP. EU-Russia relations, Robotics in Healthcare, 5 years after Ukraine crisis, a caucus of the European Peoples Party etc. Every Thursday evening is a highlight: Then it goes to the Place Lux. This is the Place de Luxembourg, which is located in front of the European Parliament. This is a meeting place for everyone from the "EU Bubble", especially for interns. It's a mix of fun and networking in business clothes. This is how it works every week. Quickly you feel like part of a big whole: You are in the so-called "EU bubble". This refers to the so-called expat community, meaning people working abroad, in this case in the EU institutions. People are talking about the latest events in the EU and you only have contact with others from the EU bubble. A major challenge was my lack of knowledge regarding politics and current political topics, but this changed immediately once you start reading political newspapers. As an intern you don’t write world-shaking speeches, negotiate with lobbyists or work on Amendments - usually, you get the task to answer citizen inquiries and to write endorsements on different topics. During my internship, I learned a lot about Brexit, EU-funding opportunities and developments in the agriculture sector.

How did your MIB skills help you during the internship? Which new skills did you get?

The course Political Aspects of International Business helped to understand the policy-making process within the EU and also how corporations are lobbying in favor of their interests. I definitely developed my networking and communication skills. I learned how to approach politicians and establish relations with them. For me this a valuable asset that universities or schools aren’t teaching you.

What are your future plans regarding the employment? Do you plan to work in Russia or in Europe?

Prior to coming to Russia, I promised myself to start a business in Russia. In January 2019 I started my online advisory business that I received funding for from friends. For now, it is important to become profitable and later scale that business in order to be financially free. Later, I will set the foundation for my venture in Russia – my own investment firm. During the internship in the EP, I researched a lot about agriculture and saw how much potential Russia and the Eurasian space have. There are still many things in Russia I want to complete – so I definitely want to stay in Russia after graduation.

What are your recommendations to MIB students re finding internships?

It is important to think big and think outside of the box – a marketing or finance department are not the world. Leave your comfort zone and try something new, but something where you can build a powerful network. Because it is your network that decides where you will work or if you will start your own business.