Secretary General Officer for the Council of the European Union

"The things we work on are printed in the newspaper the next day"

pol_hadewych_hazelzetHadewych Hazelzet, aged 35 
Graduated in 1995
Secretary General Officer for the Council of the European Union

“You need to work hard, because it doesn’t come naturally” says Hadewych when asked about her career. She studied Political Science, specializing in International Relations, and completed the first year of Cultural Anthropology as a result of her interest in development cooperation. Today she works for the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, which provides continuity in the EU’s policy-making. There’s a need for that because the Presidency of the Council changes every six months. In Brussels, the Council Secretariat guides the decision making process up to the ministerial level and takes part in the representation of the EU internationally.

Germany held the Council Presidency at the time of this interview and Hadewych had been posted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin as an EU expert from the Council Secretariat, to support Germany in its presidency. “I’m engaged in the EU’s security and defence policy,” she says. “Say that the EU wants to send a large police mission to Afghanistan. In Berlin I negotiate with the other ministries involved to come to a German standpoint. Next, the German diplomats in Brussels represent that standpoint in the EU. It’s a very exciting job, as the things we work on are printed in the newspaper the next day.” 

To get to where she is now, Hadewych made some deliberate choices. During her programme in Political Science she did an internship in Brazil, with several development cooperation projects, for instance with street children and women’s groups. After leaving the VU University Amsterdam, Hadewych completed a Master programme at the University of Chicago in international trade relations, and an internship with the UNESCO in Paris. In 2001 she undertook a doctoral degree at the European University Institute in Florence. “Before I finished my dissertation, I did the EU Concours to be able to work for EU institutions. The Concours is an examination consisting of many rounds of tests and interviews. After I got through I started my job at the General Secretariat of the Council.”

Hadewych’s advice is to work hard, to specialize in a subject that motivates you, and to learn languages. “Sometimes you have to wait to be rewarded. International internships are very competitive and you need to be prepared to do it without getting paid. So start saving now.”