A step to the next level
Why did you choose a traineeship in the program at NSC?
First of all, this traineeship represented for me a significant leap forward in terms of professional and personal growth, in continuity with my previous steps. Indeed, my profile brings together two Masters in International Relatons and European Studies with the professional experience in communication acquired while working in European institutions, newspapers, TV news bulletins and think tanks. Thus, I thought that working at the North-South Centre could give me an invaluable insight on the work of a Communication Unit of a prominent international organisation addressing crucial issues such as human rights, education, youth and gender equality. Moving to an amazing city such as Lisbon facilitated this idea.
Was the application process difficult?
The application process was one of the very few revisable aspects of my experience at the North-South Centre, as it took some months, renounces from other candidates and two interviews to receive the final traineeship offer. However, it was not particularly complicated. I also had the chance to speak with my tutor in person and everything agreed during the meetings was then respected during the traineeship.
What did you do during the traineeship?
In detail, the main tasks undertaken while working in the Communication Unit of the NSC can be summed up in:
• Editing content for the North-South Centre’s websites and newsletters, managing the social media channels
• Assisting the tutor in the migration of the North-South Centre institutional website
• Realizing graphic material for promotional and informational documents
• Covering the communication of the main events
• Following and assisting in the organization of the Lisbon Forum 2017 and the North-South Prize ceremony
However, I tired not to limit myself to carry out my daily tasks and assignments, but I exploited the chance of being at the Centre by contributing to the planning of more long-term communication strategies, with the objective of enhancing the reputation of the Centre.
What was the most interesting and the hardest task for you?
The most interesting task was to organize and follow in first person the entire communication and media coverage of important international events such as the Lisbon Forum and the North-South Prize ceremony. I was lucky enough to liaise with and then interview politicians, activists, journalists and other personalities. The hardest but most challenging task was being asked to structure the new NSC website taking into account the thousands of already existing webpages and documents.
What did you learn at NSC?
First, the traineeship still represents a great ‘business card’ for my future, as I proved myself that I am capable to adapt to a type of work that requires high professional standards, plus a lot of flexibility and creativity. Moreover, the organization of the big events allowed me to learn how to manage their entire process of communication and media coverage, before, during and after they take place. The job also gave me concrete and marketable technical experience in the communication sector, as I could reach a proficient level in web content editing and social media management, also thanks to the use of professional CMS and through the process of migration to a new website. I have also improved my SEO/copywriting and graphic skills.
Does every trainee have a tutor in the department where they is being trained?
Yes, every trainee is followed by the assigned tutor and is directly involved in their work and responsibilities, gaining experience as an assistant de facto.
How did you spend your time outside of work?
Apart from devoting time on extra-work projects such as the 1989 Generation Initiative, I tried to make the most to enjoy life in one of my favourite cities in the World apart from Rome: Lisbon. A perfect place to live, combining high quality of life, amazing views, lovable people and great cultural events. Portugal inspired me to the point where I turned my interest for photography into a proper passion.
Is the trainee's salary sufficient?
Unfortunately, the Council of Europe’s policies do not allow trainees to be paid. This is the only real negative aspect of this experience. However, this does not depend on the North-South Centre itself.
Did the traineeship help you to find a job you were interested in?
I would say yes more than no. After the NSC I moved to Dublin for some months in order to work at Google with a temporary contract as Account Manager. Now that I just got back to Italy, I hope that the competences acquired will ideally help me to find similar opportunities and then set up my own business here in the long term.
What would you say to people who would like to apply for a traineeship at NSC?
The experience at the North-South Centre has been outstanding in terms of professional and personal achievements and Portugal will change your approach to life, so I would encourage them to apply. Not by chance, this was my last traineeship before ‘raising the bar’ and taking a step to the next level. In addition, I have to underline that my feelings towards the whole North-South Centre’s team has been entirely and extremely positive. The colleagues welcomed me since day one and helped me to feel at home in a place where I had never lived before. My personal impression is to have had the unique opportunity to work in full trust, mutual support and co-operation, a situation rare to find somewhere else. In general, I can also speak very well about the work conditions. While it is not easy to find situations where the trainee is fully involved in the activities and in the dynamics of the organisation, the Centre offers the opportunity to become a crucial actor of the team and learn a profession from first-hand experience. Nevertheless, I consider the workload, the rythms and the times in the office completely adequate. Finally, just remember before applying that the traineeship is unpaid: this could represent an understandable material and ethical deterrent.
Interview by Agnieszka Góralczyk