Internship helped me understand what I like and what I don't
Why did you choose a traineeship in the SEAL program at EUIPO?
The aim of this comprehensive Intellectual Property scheme is to bring closer academia and the IP labour market. As a young university graduate, it gave a unique first-hand experience of the European Union in general and the Office in particular, working at the forefront of technology in an international and multinational dynamic environment. A unique opportunity to acquire experience in different areas of expertise, while enhancing my networking possibilities. Likewise, this opportunity provided me the basics of trademarks and industrial design and their impact on business, and added value to my IP legal background from a communicative perspective. Now I would say trademarks are an effective communication tool, since a single brand or logo can convey intellectual and emotional attributes and messages about your company’s reputation, products and services. Therefore, given the fact communication is an integral part of brands themselves, not just marketing veneer, thus a well-chosen marketing communication strategy plays a major part in disseminating the Office’s outgoing message and helping to develop EUIPO brand awareness, which means that consumers translate information into perceptions and impacts about the Office and its position within the larger market.
Was the application process difficult?
The bureaucratic applying process was not an issue itself, since every trainee applies through a designated person within their respective universities. Yet only a shortlist of the five best young graduates from each academic year is drawn up proposing potential candidates for the traineeship by each university that has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with EUIPO, therein lay the challenge: being the best high-end alumni.
What did you do during the traineeship?
I consider myself an enthusiastic communications professional, with a legal background. My core strengths lied in external communications, drafting and creating content such as speeches, letters, articles and interviews for external audiences. Among other tasks, I was involved in the creation of media evaluation reports, the development of public relation strategies and the diffusion of corporate material. I also contributed to the annual communication report, supporting the team in their day to day activities. Testimonial of a Pan European Seal Program trainee in the EUIPO (2016/2017) SAMUEL ALONSO CERVERA - Communication Service 1.
What was the most interesting and the hardest task for you?
The most interesting task was the daily creation of an IP Newsletter on a technical level, as well as its editorial content. This IP Newsletter is more than just a monitoring tool; it allows EUIPO staff to get a sense of what’s going on in the world of IP beyond the walls of the Office. Thus, it handed me a sense of the media agenda as far as IP is concerned in a broad definition, not only including trademarks and designs directly related to the Office, but also geographical indications, patents and copyright. And more importantly, it touches on policy; what the EU is doing or thinking of doing in terms of IP, what is happening at Member State level and what role IP plays in international policy. In short, it allowed me to inform yourself about the world of IP, to learn about the IP stories that really make news, to immerse yourself in the IP specialized media and to get a sense of how important IP is as a driver of the news agenda. The most difficult assignment was to undertake the draft of a common statement in the name of the Pan-European Seal and Young Professional trainees of the EUIPO, expressing our common vision of the European Union, from our personal experience and in respect of the diversity that characterize us. Particularly challenging if considering there were so many interesting stories in Europe that I wouldn’t necessarily have exposure to, which made this a fantastic, mindbroadening experience for myself and I feel that it was the same for everyone, regardless of their academic background.
What did you learn at EUIPO?
Overall, this traineeship has provided me with enlightening experiences and know-how. It has helped me gain a better understanding of my likes, dislikes and wants for the future. It has also given me valuable hands-on experience and allowed me to apply what I learned in school to my legal career field, improving attributes such as motivation, leadership, problem solving, efficient communication, experience and interpersonal skills. Besides, as part of the Communication Service, I have come to realize how communication skills are very much sought-after, particularly in the modern world of business jargon, complex technologies and saturated markets. This communication encounter has allowed me to build awareness of how to communicate information to diverse audiences effectively, with specific business goals in mind. Plus communications teams are invaluable in order to provide meaning and resonance to the companies’ aims, and to present the company and its services or products in the best and clearest possible way to consumers, clients and colleagues. I still enjoy every minute of it. Testimonial of a Pan European Seal Program trainee in the EUIPO (2016/2017) SAMUEL ALONSO CERVERA - Communication Service 2
Does every trainee have a tutor in the department where they is being trained?
Workplace supervisors play a central role in the success of apprenticeships. In that sense, all EUIPO trainees have had the opportunity to benefit from on-the-job coaching by staff; someone who provides regular feedback, encouragement and motivation, integrates learning tasks into work activities and contributes to a safe and supportive workplace. On the personal, my tutor was both professional and personable, and I admire her for being able to juggle both aspects of his personality in such a high-pressure working environment. She became my role model and a workplace coach, both at the same time, the person to look for guidance and help in learning how to do my job, who made me allowances to carry out my assigned task in my own way, provided that the job was completed to the required standard.
How did you spend your time outside of work?
Alicante is otherwordly, if you know where to look. Of all Spain's mainland provincial capitals, Alicante is the most influenced by tourism, thanks to the nearby airport and resorts. Nevertheless this is a dynamic, attractive Spanish city with a castle, old quarter and long waterfront. During the week life is rather quiet and homelike, where the weekend come to life. The eating scene is exciting and the nightlife is absolutely legendary, whether you're chugging pints with the stag parties at 7pm or twirling on the dance floor with the locals seven hours later. On a weekend night it's impossibly busy and buzzy year-round. No doubt it helds a different type of party: all services are provided in the epicenter, the following morning can be enjoyed relaxing in the perfect weather, which is why the activity is getting increasingly popular. The “tardeo” is held in the Central Market of Alicante, San Francisco and Castaños streets, all areas surrounding the Alamo, where various customers stay the night to continue enjoying the alternative afternoon offered by. An unusual weekend to unwind and relax all at once; perfect as well for the many stag & hen parties in Alicante that enjoy the “tardeo”. When the good weather begins, the terraces prepare to host the party in the afternoon. And if you fancy exploring more, Alicante celebrates the coming of summer with the bonfires of San Juan. In a spectacular display of music, color and fireworks, thousands of people throng the streets to experience this fiesta which pays tribute to fire. Alicante is otherwordly, if you know where to look.
Is the trainee's salary sufficient?
It is no secret that no one gets rich from an internship. However, trainees are paid more than the minimum wage set in Spain, which ensures same training opportunities were available to all, not just those with the financial resources to allow them to work unpaid; and while “learn before you earn”, it helps to make a living in Alicante, and perhaps save a little cash for whims and trips. All in all, the traineeship provides an incredible opportunity to learn from and experience life at one of the more dynamic and vast European Agencies. The biggest win for me undoubtedly was the critical on-the-job skills I developed on my career.
Did the traineeship help you to find a job you were interested in?
Most importantly, the traineeship has given me a better outlook into what I would want to pursue in the future. It encouraged me to apply for a postgraduate study after spending time with the press & media team and realizing that my desired career requires different knowledge and skills. An opportunity to realign my education with my goals or even re-boot my career. It made me appreciate learning more than when I was an undergraduate, I felt entitled to learn more about the subject I'm passionate about, which was a threat. Therefore, I enrolled myself in a postgraduate program that specialize in the keys to production, sales strategies and the relationship with publishers and users, through the management of a video game project, while liaising with a video game publication on upcoming releases, previews, reviews and witty blurbs.
What would you say to people who would like to apply for a traineeship at EUIPO?
This experience has been a turning point in my career. The traineeship is perfect for young professionals seeking international experience that helps them grow professionally and as a person. It gave me the opportunity to learn from amazing people who work passionately to enforce the respect of Intellectual Property Rights. I found supportive and talented individuals with drive and determination to defending genuine business assets that may be integral to the core services of the business and overall long-term viability. Much is need to be done that initiatives are well accepted, thus making my experience greatly enriching.
Interview by Agnieszka Góralczyk