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Barbara, European Commission

“My name is Barbara, I’m originally from Slovakia and I have been working for the EU institutions for nearly 10 years. I had the opportunity to work for the department dealing with Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. DG ECHO is an expression of ‘EU solidarity in action’ for people in need. It’s a very enriching work to help the EU save lives in Europe and worldwide. Currently, I work in DG Migration and Home Affairs, leading a press team, and focusing on topics of migration, borders and security. 

To become an EU civil servant, I had to pass the EPSO competition with nearly 30.000 candidates for 147 posts. Practically speaking, this means 0.5% probability of succeeding or in other words, 5 out of 1.000 candidates succeeded. My advice for future candidates? Work hard on your knowledge, practice and train yourself. Don’t give up. Don’t forget to work on your mindset at the same time. Like with any sport – “practice makes the master” and overall, the experience will develop your skills, knowledge and grow further.”

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George, EEAS Sarajevo

Don’t wait for the perfect competition (it doesn’t exist!)

Keep an eye on the EU Careers website for upcoming competitions. If something fits your profile, give it a try! Each EPSO competition I failed taught me a lesson that I used in the next one.

Don’t get lost in the details

Remember, being an expert on a subject is one thing; demonstrating it in a limited amount of time and within a structured format is another. Take the time to understand the procedure, tests and expectations. Prepare yourself to clearly and concisely demonstrate your knowledge.

Be prepared for when you receive the ‘I am pleased to inform you’ letter

Passing an EPSO competition is just another step in your career. It is important to know what you want to do next, so that you have the first-move advantage. My target was to work in an EU Delegation, so having identified the position that I was aiming for and getting familiar with the process definitely helped me secure a position shortly after the publication of the results.”

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Andrea, European Commission DG AGRI

“An EU career seemed so unreal to me when I was a teenager, living in a nice Central European countryside. Fortunately, reality proved me wrong. A few years after completing an Erasmus Mundus Master programme, I managed to pursue my EU career. First as a Blue Book trainee, then as an interimaire, and later as a contract agent; eventually, I successfully passed a specialised AD competition in 2022. Patience was the most important quality in this journey. Thanks to it, I am now (7 years after my Blue Book traineeship), a team leader in DG Agriculture and Rural Development, dealing with a flagship report – EU Agricultural Outlook. And it is exciting for me to know that this is just the beginning of my professional journey in the EU institutions!”

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Andreia, European Commission DG RTD

“My journey within the EU institutions started 5 years ago with my Blue Book Traineeship at the European Commission. Not only did I experience firsthand the communication actions of the Commission’s Representation in Bucharest, but I also learned more about EPSO’s selection procedures and the opportunities for young people that EU offered. This was also the time when I applied to the Generalist Administrator competition. After many hours of studying and practicing interview topics, with a pandemic in between, I was finally successful and closer to my dream of working at the EU institutions and making a difference in people’s lives. As a policy officer at DG Research & Innovation in the European Commission, I am working on a challenging and very interesting file: the simplification of the Horizon programme. My advice for future candidates is to stay focused on every step at a time, prepare well in advance for tests and interviews, and, most importantly, remember that perseverance is the key.”

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Andreas, European Commission DG CLIMA

“If you want to work in an international environment, handling topics relevant to the citizens of the European Union and beyond, then joining an EPSO selection procedure is the right step for you. 

There are all sorts of myths and anecdotes about it, and for sure it can be challenging. But the opportunities that you have once you’ve passed a competition are definitely worth the effort. 

For the procedure, make sure to use all available sources to prepare; sometimes there is even dedicated preparation support by your Member State. Approach it smartly by being confident about your strengths and actively working on elements you need to improve.

 Within the institutions, I am now working on climate change in the international context, an area that I love to work in – made possible through the EPSO selection procedure. 

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Artur, European Commission DG ECHO

Perseverance, an open mind, and a bit of luck – these are to me the key elements of a successful journey through the EPSO selection procedure. Joining the EU civil service allowed me to not only be in the middle of political and policymaking processes, but also to challenge myself daily and appreciate the value of collaboration with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. And it is exactly this diversity - of views, personalities and opportunities lying ahead – that makes the work for the European Union exciting.” 

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Adriana, General Secretariat of the Council

"Upon graduating in economics and EU studies, I joined the EU Institutions quest, where I touched upon most areas of implementation of the EU budget. 

Passing an EPSO competition represents a significant milestone and a decisive turn in my long-term career path. 

In my current job in the General Secretariat of the Council, Directorate-General Economic and Financial Affairs I deal, as part of an outstanding team, with the adoption of the EU budget and related legislation. Supporting the rotating EU Presidency in finding compromises within the Council and with relevant stakeholders, taking part in negotiations in view of agreement reaching, is clearly a gripping experience. As a specific file, I was in charge of the revision of the Financial Regulation, the backbone of EU finances. 

Overall, it is a very dynamic environment, with its challenges, however definitively gratifying at the end of the day.”

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Edoardo, European Commission

“Joining the European civil service has been a challenging but rewarding path. Since I joined the Italian Naval Academy when I was 19 years old, I have been working for our seas and oceans in several different roles in the Italian administration and international institutions. 

Succeeding in the EPSO selection procedure allowed me to work in many central areas of EU policy making, from maritime safety to fisheries control, passing through marine research and international cooperation for healthy oceans. The opportunities an EU career offers are immense, in a fast-paced, stimulating, impactful, and truly international environment. 

My advice for future candidates would be to get deeply into the policy priorities of the European institutions, and prepare continuously over time, with weekly slots dedicated to study and preparation. I would also suggest engaging yourself in many different topics, as the more diverse your experience, the more chances you will have to succeed.”