Kate Raynor–Scottish Parliament and Brussels EU Internships

Brussels EU Intern–Summer 2017

Scottish Parliament Intern–Fall 2016

If a student asked you about interning here, what would you say? Brussels is an amazing city.  It is the center of European democracy and feels vibrant.  On any day, you can walk down the street and meet someone from just about any country in the world. The internship program in Brussels is structured in a way that enables independent growth with a BYU safety-net.  Unlike many other programs, you aren’t meeting with BYU professors during your internship.  You are just living life in a spectacular city and being an adult everyday. However, if you need any extra support, there are usually a few other BYU interns in Brussels and a program coordinator reachable through email, phone, or Skype.  You are taking internship credits and working.  It is the perfect class structure to facilitate learning.

What is your advice to future interns to help them have a successful experience? My internship with Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l (a nonprofit) in Brussels is my second internship through BYU.  Last year, I interned with the Scottish Parliament.  Both of these internships taught me a lot about the importance of ambition and communication in the workplace.  For me, the most important advice that I could give to another intern would be to establish expectations early in your internship.  Some internship providers expect you to know what they want right away.  Unfortunately, interns don’t always know what employers expect, especially when the interns are adjusting to a new city, new country, and new culture. So it is really important to have that discussion early.

I’ve also really noticed that the success of internships depends on you.  Last year, I was surprised to see that out of a group of seven interns working in the same place, we all had extremely different experiences with different learning outcomes. Some did incredibly well and loved their internships, while others did not.  Success within an internship is not guaranteed, but through self-motivation and hard work, you can learn so much more than if you are just there to build your resume.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship experience? Internships are great at guiding you as you are figuring out future goals. I learned a lot about human rights law during my internship with Human Rights Without Frontiers.  However, the most rewarding aspect of my internship was coming to Brussels and realizing that working at a nonprofit was not what I want to do. My internship was great and I would encourage anyone thinking about going to Brussels or working in international law or global affairs to find a way to intern in Brussels, you will either love it or not love it.  It doesn’t really matter because you will have gained an experience that will guide you to your next step. I don’t want to work for a nonprofit, but my work at a nonprofit is what made me realize that I wouldn’t be happy there. Experiences like internships can save you from years of moving in the wrong direction.  

Additionally, while you are figuring out your future goals, you are in Brussels (or somewhere else) surrounded by amazing individuals who are more than willing to talk with you and tell you how they ended up in their current profession.  The networking system in Brussels is like no other in terms of international connections. I’ve met US State Department officials, international human rights lawyers, ambassadors, and so many others.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience? Regardless of the specific internship, the program here in Brussels is amazing as you get to experience so much on a daily basis. I feel like my internship in Brussels has made me a more well-rounded candidate for future employment opportunities and helped me make plans for my future. The hands-on experience of an internship cannot be supplemented by classwork, despite the strength of the BYU English faculty. The English+ program really facilitates learning and promotes professional development.

Just a side note to those that like to travel:  While you are interning during the week, you also have every weekend and holiday to travel in Europe.  Brussels in a super central location. You can be in most European countries within three hours for relatively cheap. Or you can just enjoy the attractions within Brussels, eat some fries or have a Belgian waffle.

Click here for more information about the Brussels EU internship.

Click here to learn more about the Scottish Parliament internship.