What do you do for a living?
I am a parliamentary adviser for a Member of the Romanian Parliament. My main tasks are: drafting political speeches, interpellations and questions, issuing reports, and preparing meetings or conferences. Besides, I have to keep track of all events which take place on the political scene, so that we can answer to various issues just as they are happening. Everything is done at a very high pace and therefore, time is my main competitor. My job asks for quick reactions, which can sometimes put a lot of pressure on one’s shoulders because of the responsibility which inevitably comes along. In many situations I have to act on behalf of a state official, so I always need to double-check all the information and make sure my decisions are appropriate for each situation.
One of the things that I find fascinating about my current job is the fact that it allows me to put into practice some of the things that I have learned during my university years. Another interesting aspect is that I have the oppertunity to meet important national political decision-makers and opinion leaders, which I have only read about in newspapers until then and which proved to be great sources of inspiration. And, overall, my job allows me to understand how different politics is in practice as compared to theory, without diminishing the latter’s importance at all.
How did you find this job?
I have benefited from a favorable national context. Just as I was returning back to my home country, Romania was going through national elections and politicians who won the elections were looking for young specialists in the field to help them with their activity. While being in Amsterdam, I maintained my connections from back home close and it proved to be very useful, as I was offered this position directly by the freshly-elected MP.
What aspects of your job relate to the Master’s programme you followed at VU University Amsterdam?
Much of the knowledge I gained during my studies in Amsterdam proved to be very useful in a lot of aspects. The strong theoretical background that I gained at the VU in fields such as comparative politics, political behaviour or European politics, has greatly contributed to my knowledge on the actual content of my work. In addition, because our classes used to put a lot of emphasis on individual work, the researching skills that I’ve developed at the VU helped me not only to create well-informed and well-structured working materials, but also organize my time efficiently in this sense.
Did having this Master’s degree help in any way to get your job?
My Master’s degree in Political Science: Comparative European Politics and the academic reputation of the VU represented an important advantage in obtaining my current job. Moreover, during my studies in Amsterdam I also worked as a trainee – scientific assistant for Kieskompas B.V., which helped me a lot in understanding the challenges of my current job. Overall, it’s not only the master’s degree that helped me, but it’s also the academic environment that one will find at the VU which allows you to focus on your areas of interests. I am absolutely sure that my master’s at the VU will also prove valuable for my future perspectives.
Why did you choose this Master’s, and what job did you expect to find with this degree?
I started being interested in both comparative politics and European parties during my bachelor studies. I heard about the VU during a conference I participated in and found it very interesting to see that the university offered a programme that combined my two major academic interests. I also had the chance of being granted a scholarship by the VU Fellowship Programme, which eased my stay in the Netherlands, so there were quite a lot of reasons to choose this Master’s. I believe that my current job fits perfectly with what I studied in Amsterdam and I am also confident that the studies and connections which I have developed in time will be useful in pursuing maybe even an academic career in the future.
What should (prospective) students expect of life after graduation?
Although obtaining a degree is a very important advantage, unfortunately graduates will not be offered a job just because they have a diploma. They should take advantage of the fact that they have studied (or will study) at one of the top European universities and therefore they should never underestimate the opportunities which come along. My advice for them is to meet as many people as possible in the field they are specializing in and try to create connections and build networks. The VU offers everyone the necessary environment to become as competitive as one wishes to, so why not take this enormous advantage?
Do you have any recommendations for (prospective) students for their education or careers?
Always be on the lookout for opportunities! The VU has a lot to offer, so has Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Students should definitely be aware of the importance of building a strong theoretical background, but also explore the means of practical output for the academic input.