Former Intern Testimonials

2016 interns

Rohan Varma, France: May-July 2016

My tasks were very diverse and I was asked to do things that I never did before, or that I knew very little about, such as establishing contact lists, brainstorming for an online campaign, translating specific texts and even playing the role of an interpreter for a short moment. Hence, I believe that my own goal of diversifying my skills and knowledge was attained and I now feel very enthusiast to have these experiences because they gave me confidence in my capacities, and in my ability to adapt to new and different situations.

I was also able to use skills I developed during my studies, as I had to do research on a lot of different subjects. This research aspect had focus on issues concerning the Roma and gave me a lot of details and information about the community and about new tools that could help to achieve a better integration of the Roma community in Europe, such as social entrepreneurship or education through arts and music. My knowledge about situations in countries or regions I knew little about was also enhanced and strengthened. I learned a lot about the political and social situations in Eastern and Central European countries, through the tasks I was asked to do and through my fellow interns who were half Polish and Slovenian.
Jessica Dinstel, France: May-July 2016

I learnt about how an NGO like ERIO is working with EU institutions and grassroots organizations and how it lobbies on anti-discrimination and social inclusion issues. Moreover, I learnt about the importance of researching, reporting and sharing key knowledge, as an important part in NGO’s work. Finally, my internship was a chance to gain first-hand experience and knowledge of the day-to-day work of an advocacy organization. Another interesting part of my internship was the opportunity to assist with different events such as meetings, conferences, roundtables. I have attended conferences and hearings organized by the European institutions in Brussels. It was the opportunity to learn how the EU works on Roma issues, what their competencies and limits are.

My internship at ERIO was a great opportunity for understanding the work achieved for improving the Roma situation and the range of challenges faced at the European, national and local levels. Moreover, it was the occasion to meet key actors working on Roma issues as well as Roma representatives. Ambitious and resourceful, I believe, they really deserve to be known by everyone. Through their stories, I got inspired as the intern I was but also as a citizen and as a woman. I am convinced that this internship is a great opportunity for those who want to learn more about NGO’s work and Roma issues.  It is an enriching experience on both professional and personal levels.
Nejc Kebe, Slovenia: March-June 2016

My internship at ERIO introduced me to the world of EU decision making, human rights advocacy on the EU level and the intricate and complex relations between the international institutions, national governments, NGOs and the civil society. I got an inside look at the work of Brussels-based NGOs and levels of cooperation in the field of EU policies. As Roma are facing hurdles on all levels of public life, work in ERIO includes a diverse and interconnected range of topics ranging from discrimination, poverty, hate-speech and racism on all levels of public life.
Throughout the internship I was given a range of different and interesting tasks, which provided me with a new set of skills; from writing a final report about a EU funded project, researching various issues connected to human rights and drafting the relevant documents to a more practical experience such as organising conferences on the EU and local level. My work included both individual tasks and team-work and the helpful ERIO staff have actively guided me through the challenges of their complex everyday work. The internship provided me with extensive knowledge of the situation of the Roma community and the complex relations between the various fields of social and economic policies, political activism, human rights law and EU decision making. Studying about Roma issues has also made me reflect on my own identity and the complex ideas of nationalism, democracy and fundamental rights.
Kondylia Pavlou, Greece: February-April 2016

The different assignments I completed during my internship have given me the opportunity to acquire a wide range of work experience, which I find to be highly valuable for my future career. Moreover, one of the most fascinating parts of this internship was the opportunity to assist to a number of meetings and conferences organized by the European Parliament and other NGOs about Roma, the state of democracy in Europe, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The internship has been incredibly enriching for me as it enabled me to get an inside look at the field of human rights advocacy in Brussels and how an NGO like ERIO operates as a bridge between the European Commission and grassroots organizations across the EU. I believe that this internship constitutes a great opportunity to learn about the problems the Roma face and to contribute to the advocacy work for the Roma communities.

2015 interns

Yasmin Hegazy, Spain/Egypt, October 2015-January 2016
During my work at ERIO I gained in-depth knowledge on the hate speech facing the Roma, and their inability to exercise their European Union citizens’ rights. At ERIO the working environment was extremely supportive, and the team was willing to share their experiences and advice on how to be a better Roma rights advocate. Working at ERIO was a great opportunity for me to learn about what advocacy is and to be a part of the advocacy process.

Some of my assignments included updating ERIO’s social media, writing reports, and being part of their online campaign against Roma stereotypes. Moreover, I actively participated in various conferences, and workshops organized by EU institutions and other NGOs. Having different assignments provided me with a wide range of work experience, which I found to be highly valuable for the rest of my career. I found all of the events to be very interesting, as not only did I learn about different aspects of Roma rights, but also I got to interact with members of the Roma community that provided very interesting perspectives on how to advance their rights. I would urge Roma activists and young graduates interested in furthering the rights of the Roma to apply to be part of ERIO’s team. It is a great opportunity to learn about the problems the Roma face, and also to be a part of taking a step forward in the realization of their rights.
Ruth Whittle, Ireland, September-December 2015

My experience with ERIO has helped me to gain a practical understanding of advocacy at EU level and in particular, how ERIO operates as a bridge between the European Commission and grassroots organisations across the EU. It has also opened my eyes to the issues which effect Roma across Europe.

This internship provided me with an insight of how an NGO like ERIO is working with EU institutions in order to ensure better conditions for Roma, whether that be tackling hate speech, highlighting forced evictions and their poor socioeconomic conditions. It was great to work with such a dedicated and close-knit team. The tasks given were always interesting and worthwhile: I really felt that my time and work was always valued. I particularly enjoyed research and drafting relevant material, developing ERIO’s social media strategy and participating in the advocacy training. This internship has deepened my knowledge of the Roma issue at an EU level. It has prepared me for a career in research, at an EU institution or at an NGO which works on non-discrimination, minority rights or migration. Above all, I am happy to be more informed about the Roma issue and I hope to continue to break stereotypes and negative attitudes against Roma widely held by the general public.
Sarah Marinova, Bulgaria, September-October 2015

Thank you very much for allowing me to spend two months to get work experience at ERIO. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with you and found the experience interesting and rewarding. The best parts of my experience were the events as I learnt much and had the opportunity to meet with different people. Working at ERIO has given me more experience on the Roma issues and I also learnt a lot on how things work.
Sean Nolan, UK/France, December 2014 – July 2015
During my internship I was put in charge of a wide variety of tasks, ranging from translation to helping organize an educational project in a school in Brussels. This experience has been incredibly enriching for me as it enabled me to get an inside look at the world of human rights advocacy in Brussels and made me discover the Roma cause. The most fascinating parts of this internship were the opportunities to assist to high level meetings and conferences between NGOs, European institutions, local authorities, Roma organizations, and various experts. Another highlight was my involvement with the Smile project. I participated in the elaboration of a web platform intended to help teach students and teachers about Roma history and culture, Roma language and pro-sociality. I was also involved in the organization of a series of trainings for teachers in a school in Brussels.

Although I witness great efforts in the fight for Roma integration, this internship also made me aware of the shortcomings of European level advocacy. For a start, whilst statements and engagements can be quick to be achieved, tangible progress is painfully slow. Even though the process of European advocacy is a slow and uphill battle, in the current context of the rise of far right parties Roma advocacy is more important now than ever and I was very grateful to ERIO for giving me the opportunity to help in this struggle.
Monika Šamová, Slovakia, February – June 2015
As a law student with previous mostly legal experience on national level I came to ERIO with expectations to extend my knowledge about the situation of Roma in different EU countries and learn more about EU policies on this matter. Within my first weeks at ERIO I have learned about the development of EU policies on Roma socio-economic integration and anti-discrimination as well as about the monitoring mechanism of the European Commission.
The strategic location of ERIO in the heart of the European Union allowed me to experience the life within the “EU bubble”. I attended conferences and meetings organised by EU institutions and other NGOs and saw how civil society can reach EU officials and lobby for different causes. As a part of the ERIO team, I was involved in advocacy activities on European level. This allowed me to view the problems of Roma from a policy perspective, what was extremely beneficial to me as a person with mostly legal background. I realised that the problems Roma have to face in Eastern Europe are similar all over the continent. During my internship I also experienced the organisation of an event – our hate speech in media conference. Considering all the tasks I conducted I cannot say I had only one, which I liked the most. Therefore, I would like to encourage others to apply. Internships at ERIO are a great opportunity for students or young professionals, who would like to enter the world of European affairs and contribute to fight against anti-Gypsyism.

2014 interns

Anna Defour, France, September 2014-March 2015

My internship has been and will remain one of the most interesting and beneficial experiences for me, both in terms of professional and personal development. I will always be grateful to the staff for the knowledge and skills they have enabled me to develop, and for the opportunity they have given me to contribute to their daily work, offering me a great insight into EU advocacy and Roma related projects on the ground. I was involved in a variety of activities but what I mainly draw from this experience is the trust that they give to their interns who truly are integral parts of the team.

When starting my internship, I would not have expected to be involved in the drafting of a project proposal on the Roma and Sinti Holocaust for the European Commission neither to have my name as a collaborator to an ERIO’s publication nor to deliver a speech on behalf of ERIO at the European Economic and Social Committee. I also had the opportunity to meet many representatives from civil society, Equality Bodies, states representatives, EU officials. But the moments that I will always keep in mind which definitely impacted my way to think and see life, are when I met Ms. Rita Prigmore and Mr. Zoni Weisz, Roma and Sinti Holocaust survivors. This is what an internship at ERIO offers: the chance to grow professionally and humanly in a leading organization doing such a critical work to promote Roma inclusion and equality in Europe.
Gianluca Cesaro, Italy, December 2013-June 2014

I spent six months at ERIO for an internship that I believe it was my first valuable professional experience in the European NGO sector. This is for several reasons. Firstly, the small size of the team is a great opportunity for the intern to easily join the office workflow without fearing the complexity of a bigger organisation; at the same time, it allows for a greater involvement in the office activities. Under the supervision of the team, the intern can indeed take the lead on some small projects thus enhancing both his/her skills and own self-confidence. I remember with particular satisfaction when I got to organise and participate in a workshop on the remembrance of the Roma holocaust. At the end of the day, it felt as that was also my own success.

Secondly, the staff strives to tailor an internship experience that suits the intern's interests and aspirations to the greatest extent possible. At the time, as a university student writing my Master thesis on the European Roma policy, I took pride in presenting the evolution, results and shortcomings of this policy before the staff. Moreover, I could enjoy a full-hour interview with the director for my thesis. Finally, working at ERIO will boost your knowledge of Roma affairs and will give you a privileged insight into the strategies and challenges of a human rights organisation. It’s also a valuable field to test your skills in different domains: in my case, I gained experience in as many fields as organising a workshop, drafting a policy paper, assisting with the implementation of EU-funded projects and taking care of the communication outputs (e-news, social networks, brochures…). Experience in such wide range of tasks is highly appreciated in the world of NGOs and can be easily exploited to build up a policy, communication or administrative profile.

2013 interns

Emma Townsend, Australia, September – November 2013

I interned with ERIO for approximately two months in 2013. During that time, I carried out a number of tasks, including researching and writing reports and statements, taking the minutes of meetings and reporting on events, and assisting in the organisation of conferences. I also attended a number of meetings and hearings held by various EU bodies (European Commission, European Parliament, etc.), as well as an ERIO conference.

My time with ERIO was invaluable. It provided me with the opportunity to gain insight into the workings of advocacy groups generally, as well as specifically into the field of Roma rights. During the period of my internship, I was able to develop and/or strengthen my research, editing, proofreading, organisational skills, and communication skills (both written and verbal). I also had the opportunity to work alongside both interns and ERIO employees with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences, as well as to meet other like-minded people at ERIO and EU events. This allowed me to explore and develop my own ideas and understandings. The team at ERIO always encouraged me to participate in its workings, as well as to attend all relevant outside events and conferences. Overall, it was an educational and enjoyable experience and opportunity.
Jonas Pors, Denmark, February - June 2013
This was a both insightful and rewarding experience for a number of reasons. First of all, ERIO as a relatively small organization lets you participate in and be responsible for a variety of tasks such as drafting proposals for press releases, doing research on anti-Roma discrimination and taking part in planning events and conferences.
But perhaps the most rewarding is the time and energy ERIO and its staff invested in me and my fellow interns to acquire knowledge about Roma related issues, the inner workings of the EU-administration and issues related to anti-discrimination legislation and the personal experiences of discrimination which the Roma endure. Thus it was not uncommon for the staff at ERIO to enlighten us and to discuss these issues with us, just for the sake of us learning about these issues. Furthermore ERIO granted us access to meetings, conferences and similar events in order for us interns to get a first-hand experience of the barriers that Roma advocacy sometimes encounters and how the EU administrative systems operate.  
Catherine Boyd, UK, December 2012-March 2013
I had a very interesting 4 month internship at ERIO. As ERIO is a small NGO I had the opportunity to get involved in lots of different types of work and to see the use of my work in practise. My principal piece of work was researching and writing a paper on high level cases of discrimination against the Roma in the EU the previous year which was later submitted to the Directorate General for Justice at the European Commission. I was also involved in communications, writing pieces for ERIO's newsletter and helping to update the website. For KeyRoma, a project that ERIO helped to manage, that aimed to improve the skills of Roma women, I  helped to draft learning modules on topics such as migrants rights.
In general the experience provided me with an understanding of the functions of a campaigning NGO and showed me how an NGO could raise the profile of the issue they worked on. I was also introduced to ERIO's management functions and saw how a project, managed by various partners was run. While I was at ERIO I was provided with a thorough understanding of the issue of discrimination against the Roma and made to feel like part of the team, a thoroughly positive experience.

2012 interns

Savin Koc, UK, June-December 2012
During my six-month internship with ERIO, I was able to gain first-hand experience and knowledge of the day-to-day work of an international advocacy organisation, as well as that of the various NGOs and EU institutions with which it worked very closely. As ERIO was the chair of the European Roma Policy Coalition during the period in which I interned, I was also able to learn about the responsibilities carried by a chairing group and the administerial management of such coalitions.

Joining ERIO upon immediate completion of my bachelor’s degree in the field of social sciences, I had formerly looked at matters of social inclusion and human rights from a heavily theoretical perspective. Working within an organisation lobbying for the inclusion of a group of people so heavily disenfranchised was an important opportunity to witness the actual process of fighting for the recognition and formalisation of such rights, as well as understanding the limitations that are often faced in the process. An important part of ERIO’s work during the period of my internship was the reviewing of the recently submitted National Roma Integration Strategies by the individual Member States, as well as the observation of efforts made at local levels to implement them. Both processes involved several meetings with representatives from the European Commission as well as other EU institutions, NGOs, and municipality level actors. Accompanying the ERIO team to several of these meetings and drafting the minutes and reports that followed contributed to the skills that I gained and training that I undertook during my time at ERIO.
Valeria Venturini, Italy, September-November 2012

I had an internship at ERIO after I completed the Master’s degree in Human Rights and Conflict Management. Although at that time I already worked in project management in various NGOs in Italy, I was looking for a European-level experience to gain a deeper knowledge of the EU system and its mechanisms. This internship turned to be even better than I expected.

During the time spent working in Brussels, I performed different tasks, including research on current Roma issues (such as the case of France’s evictions of Roma), drafting information programmes and documents (such as e-news drafting, newsletters), assisted with advocacy work, book cataloguing. I also had the opportunity to conduct a research and draft a paper on the European Commission’s achievements on Roma Inclusion: it has been a particularly challenging task but I discovered a true passion for writing. Definitely what I enjoyed most of the entire experience was taking part in EU-level events, conferences and meetings with representatives of embassies and institutions. It definitely taught me how to deal and react to different stakeholders and it gave me a deep overview of the interactions among institutions and stakeholders. ERIO is a truly precious working environment for everyone interested in working in an international context being fully engaged in every part of the work, and I am glad I had the chance to be part of the team.
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