On Monday, 10th Feb, I attended the UCL’s European Careers Event 2020. It was organised for graduates, particularly of the UCL and others. Since I am not an institutionalised academic, I do not have a piece of first-hand knowledge to what talks are taking places in the European Studies Departments across the country about the prospect of the UK graduates in the EU. I used this opportunity to explore pathways to careers in Europe for the UK graduates post-Brexit.
Thus I treated the event as a training session about the concerns of the UK graduates concerning the impact of Brexit on their career aspirations, and in finding out what opportunities are still available to them in Brussels, as well as in the UK post-Brexit. The informative nature of the event was well appreciated; the event featured representatives from a range of sectors, including politics and policymaking, journalism, diplomacy, and public affairs and the think tank world. I like to share some of the observations.
First of all, some drastic changes are likely to take place post Brexit, but there is no cause for alarm. Since the UK only began to negotiate over her future relations with the EU, there are also many unknowns. This is something I cannot comment on; time will probably give us all a better perspective on what is to come. My overall observation is that: when one door closes, it is guaranteed that another opens for those looking.
If you are willing to live in Brussels bubble, there are many opportunities for those graduates from the EU MSs: internships, temporary and permanent jobs in various levels. Once you are there, you do move a lot between the Directorate-Generals (DG), and it is a lot easier than one would think, Marie Le Conte said. All EU law, across all policy areas, will still apply to and in the UK during the transition period; it is currently foreseen that the transition period ends on 31st Dec 2020.
However from what I found out is that pursuing a career in the EU institutions is no longer an option for the UK citizens, but traineeship opportunities are still there to explore post-Brexit. Naina Gupta said that the UK graduates would be treated as ‘International Students’, (Non-EU nationals sound better and right I think).
On the other hand, I was thrilled to meet to Dr Alex Wilson, Policy Analyst for the Members Research Service of the EP, who provided a thorough overview of his time working in different levels and departments in Brussels. He highlighted the shift in the use of English language in the EU institutions. While the staffs operating in the EU institutions remains to use the English language in their social settings, there is an increase in the official use of German, followed by French.
Since the Brits are not known for their language skills, one recommendation I could make to the UK undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates to learn a European language. This is particularly if you are interested in European affairs and politics; and if you want to pursue a career in this line. And this is taking me to my next point about the opportunities available to the UK graduates here at home.
Okay, it seems some doors are beginning to be closing on the UK graduates as far as job opportunities are concerned, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. At this event, I also met Jessica Davenport from the Foreign and Common Wealth Office, who presented helpful information about opportunities in the UK Civil Service.
During and after the transition period there will be post and internships available in Foreign and Common Wealth Office to the UK graduates with interest in Politics, Policymaking and EU politics. It will not be like Brussels, but at least there is still a chance for the graduates to have an experience of seeing in practice how politics work.
Whereas particularly after the transition period, depending on the kind of deal the EU and the UK will agree on, there will be many opportunities for people with expertise in policy and decision making at the EU level and in the politics of the individual MSs.
One other positive point about the UK Foreign and Common Wealth Office is that you can choose to learn a new language while working; your fees will be paid and the time you need to master that language will be granted.
By the end of the networking session, I thought: one should never focus on what they have lost, but what they could gain from the oncoming adventure. Yes, the door of the EU is closing, but the new doors are beginning to open in the UK, may be elsewhere too.