Online application

EC Traineeship – Online Application – NEWS!

what is new from TO


What’s new from the Traineeship Office? It seems that 2013 is the year of refreshments. A new website and now new online forms and… surprise, surprise… no more paper file to be sent by post to the Traineeship Office. Yes, you read that correctly! As from the March 2014 application session, it is no longer required to mail your application by post to the Traineeship Office.


But don’t get excited so fast! You will still have to mail copies of your diplomas, language certificates and other proofs later on, if and only if you pass the pre-selection. Once you pass the pre-selection, you will be required to mail them to the Traineeship Office.


Let’s just say that now the process has become easier for you as you’ll have more time to collect all the proofs you need to justify whatever you declared in your application. And it’s all written on the Traineeship Office website.


I decided to fill in a mock application to see how it goes. First things first, you’ll have to create an account with an ECAS password where you save your personal data and application. The first menu is the one related to “personal data” (full name, birth date, nationality, etc.). Not so much different from before.


As you save your data, there will be a button just below that says Click here to access the application form. Click on it and you will be further taken to a page where you have to choose the type of traineeship you apply for. It’s either “administrative” or “translation”.


After the selection of your traineeship, you are redirected towards a page with a very intuitive menu. The structure of the former form has remained virtually the same. You have: contact details, educational background, professional experience, languages, skills and motivation.


I noticed though that the Skills section has a “communication and organisational” sub-section where you’ll have to describe “your main strengths in terms of communication and organisational skills” (obviously). Now, not all of you may have such skills as not all of you may have had a previous work experience. Even so, assuming you didn’t work at all in an “institutionalised” environment, you still must have contributed to a group assignment during your university studies, or maybe you volunteered somewhere, or maybe you were a member of the student union, examples are countless. Think about it and try to twist those experiences to your favour.


The Motivation section is also slightly different. There’s still a general motivation part, where you have to explain “why you are applying for a traineeship at the European Commission, what your expectations are and why you think that you are a good candidate.” I’ve already discussed about this in my previous posts and comments, so browse through.


Then, you have to select an “area of interest” from a drop-down menu. This area of interest is pretty much related to what you studied and the field you wish to work in as a Blue Book trainee at the European Commission. There is also a list that can help you get a better idea, which I am pasting here, but it’s also available right on the motivation page.


Please note that you will have to motivate your choice of “area of interest”, but also you’ll have to describe why you consider your profile suitable for this area. These are two different motivations related to your “area of interest”. Make sure you know exactly what you want to do in terms of professional career and make sure you know how to put that into words.


Once you filled in all the fields of the online form, I suggest you save the form and you let it rest for a day or two. After that you can come back and re-read it, ensuring yourselves that there are no mistakes (spelling-wise, or simple data entries for your studies, etc.). Maybe you get inspired more if you let it rest and then you can improve your motivations with fresh ideas. And even if you don’t have time to let it rest, then still re-read it and when you’re sure it’s all perfect, click the submit button. That’s when you’ll receive a registration number and when you’ll be able to keep a pdf copy of your application. Keep that registration number as you will refer to it in the future.


Please see the Traineeship Office website for more technical details about the submission of your application.


If you have anything to add or if I’ve missed anything, please leave a comment. I’d appreciate it. Bonne chance! 😉


The Breakthrough



So now that you’ve mailed everything, what’s next? A few automatic e-mails.


When the envelope with your application file arrives in the Traineeship Office, you will receive the first automatic e-mail: the acknowledgement of receipt. Make sure you have the filters of your e-mail account set properly, otherwise, you’ll receive everything in the trash/bin section and you may not be aware of it.


From now on, you should follow the calendar posted on the website from the Traineeship Office.


It concerns the 3 major steps before becoming a trainee: eligibility, pre-selection and selection.


The calendar on the website breaks down these steps. 


Basically, in a few weeks’ time from the acknowledgement of receipt e-mail, eligibility should take place.


In the case of eligibility, you will only receive an e-mail if you didn’t pass it. From what I know from friends of friends of friends… very few applicants fail at this stage. 


They usually fail because they missed to prove things they declared in the application form. So if you read my previous posts and considered my tips, you should should be fine. 


Then, following the calendar, the pre-selection boards meet to examine the files. Pre-selection itself takes a few weeks, but you’ll only receive the automatic e-mail from the Traineeship Office in about 2 months from eligibility. Hopefully, you’ll receive the positive one.


If you received the e-mail saying you passed pre-selection, then that’s when your application goes to the Blue Book database and the Commission services can view your profile. And yes, that’s about when they start contacting you, on condition your profile is good enough to match the profile they need in their unit for the trainee position.  


If you make a good impression during the interview or whatever other form of contact, you might as well be selected. But don’t forget you need to receive another e-mail saying that you passed the last stage, selection.  


To resume, at each step of the application process you should receive an automatic e-mail, informing you if you did or did not pass that stage (eligibility, pre-selection, selection).  


If you don’t receive these e-mails, check the trash/bin section of your e-mail account. If no e-mails there at all, then contact the Traineeship Office. There’s a Contact section on their website where you fill in a form and submit it. They do get back to you. 


Now I’ll remind you something I already wrote about in my post about Blue Book trainees: the contacts you may have with officials during the selection stage are no guarantee you will become a trainee. The ultimate guarantee will be the offer you receive, yet again, by e-mail. So, do not take promises for granted and wait patiently to receive the contract (aka the offer) by e-mail! Only then you can be sure you have succeeded.


In the meantime, all I can do is hope that as many of you will breakthrough.


Summary of the online application



Mailing your application file



Mailing your application file, after all the hard work to fill in and submit, is the next mandatory and logical step. It may take just as much time or even more. But let me ask you, how tidy and disciplined are you? It is now time to gather all the pieces of the puzzle, put them together in an envelope and mail them to the Traineeship Office. So here’s what you have to do:


  1. Print the online application (if you haven’t already), sign and date.
  2. Make a copy of your passport or identity card (if you’re an EU national). If you have double citizenship, make a copy of the passport showing the nationality you put on your application form. Do NOT provide copies of your driver’s licence.
  3. Make a copy of your diplomas + transcripts. (Your final grade depends on this too.)
  4. Make a copy of your language certificates. If you studied languages, there’s no need for extra language certificates (unless you already have them). 
  5. Make a copy of any other training certificates you may have, exchange studies abroad, etc.
  6. Make a copy of your former work contracts (if any).
  7. Get a couple of letters of recommendation (if you have any). 
  8. Update your curriculum vitae + list of publications if any.


I hope I haven’t missed anything else, but if I have, make sure you add it to your application file.


When you have all this together, arrange it in order mentioned above or follow the checklist on the last page of your printed application and make an extra copy of everything, which you will keep to yourself.


Why follow a specific order instead of mixing everything inside? Well, that wouldn’t leave a first good impression of your application, would it?


Put the first copy with your original signature in an A4 envelope.


Do not fold any piece of paper inside; leave everything in A4 plain format.


You can now mail your application file to the address displayed on the last page of the application. I recommend you do it by registered post and don’t forget to keep the receipt too.


Even though it’s a bit more expensive, in case your mail gets lost, with the receipt you can always prove you sent your file (that’s why I said earlier you should keep an extra copy of the file). A friend of mine sent his application as a simple letter and it got lost in the mail. He couldn’t prove he had actually sent it, so he had to wait till next session to be able to re-apply. That was a frustrating experience. But he learnt his lesson and next time applied everything went smoothly. He actually succeeded in becoming a Blue Book trainee.


In brief, filling in the online application and submitting it is just not enough. You need to print it, sign it and mail it. In addition, you need to send copies of all the documents you declared in your online application. If you don’t have them already in a drawer somewhere, you might be running from pillar to post to get them. So, depending on how fast a runner you are, allow yourself a couple of days at least to have the full package ready.


And one last important tip: EVERYTHING must be sent in one single package. Do NOT send anything separately. Anything that is sent separately from the original application file will be automatically cast off. Here’s an example, though there may be plenty others out there:

  • Do not ask your professor or university or employer to send a recommendation letter to the Traineeship Office on your behalf. Better pick it up yourself and enclose it in your application file (envelope).


All the things that I have been explaining in this post are also explained on the website from the Traineeship Office. Some simply choose not to read them carefully and that costs them an entire application.


Time to wish you GOOD LUCK with your application!


EC Traineeship – online application



Filling in the online application for an EC traineeship should be your next step after determining you have met the application criteria. The Traineeship Office website is opened twice a year for online applications. Although I’ve said it before, I’ll still repeat it: the periods for the submission of the online applications are January and July + August, respectively. Always look for latest updates on the Traineeship Office website as these periods may slightly change and you wouldn’t want to miss the deadlines.


At first, you have to register (just like on any other similar website). Since you’re all computer savvies, I’ll spare you the technical details. After registration, you’ll get your own login and password, which will enable you to edit your application as you please within the specific deadlines. Of course, on the D-Day at NOON Brussels time, you’ll no longer be able to sign in or submit.


But coming back to editing you application, that is a very important thing to take into account. You don’t have rush to fill in the online form and submit it at once. That might be a bit reckless. Some of the fields require comprehensive information and deep  thinking. You can save the draft and come back to it the next day or whenever you feel more inspired. But again, make sure the inspiration comes within the deadlines and not after.


I’m sure that many of you have already registered with different recruitment websites and you are  familiar with how to fill in online forms with personal information (I am personally not their greatest fan). The online application form for the EC traineeship is no different; the fields are already defined, but maximum attention must be paid to the:


» Motivation for each of your preferred  Directorate General (or shortly DGs);

» General motivation;
» Language section;

» Studies, work experience (if any), certifications and trainings of any kind.


Why? There will be a jury who will grade you for virtually each section in your application.


UPDATE: I just found out that the Traineeship Office made a major change in the online form (and some minor ones). As of now, you will no longer have to choose up to 3 DGs and motivate why you want to work there. You are now supposed to select an area an interest and motivate why you want to work in that area. If any of you in the process of currently registering could confirm it, by leaving a comment on this page, I’d appreciate it. The explanations below on how to write the motivation remain valid, although now there’s only 1 instead of 3. So much less work and relief!


The sections I mentioned above are basically the only ones that would enable the jury to get a better understanding of the quality of your application as compared with the other applicants.


If you really want to distinguish yourselves and gather as many points as possible, make sure your motivations (both general and specific) are coherent, pertinent and slightly “spicy”.


You need to catch the jury’s attention, you can’t just simply say… “I want to apply because I believe in the European dream.” (a silly example, but I’m sure you caught the drift)


There’s no need to write a novel, but don’t be too thrifty with words either. (You are allowed to choose up to 3 DGs where you want to work. For each of them you’ll have to write an eye-catching motivation.)


As for the languages, some people are more gifted than others. Remember that you’ll receive a very good grade for this section if the level of the languages you speak is very good. Of course, the more you speak the better. If, for example, you added French as your mother tongue, then German as second language (intermediate level), but you’re proud you can say a few words in Spanish, then don’t mention Spanish as it’ll be of no help to you. Mention only those languages you’re fluent in, including your mother tongue.


Then, sure if you studied abroad (e.g. did an Erasmus exchange), worked abroad, you have recommendation letters, or even certifications of all kinds, you wrote papers on EU related topics, etc., then don’t forget to mention them (all of them). They could add a few good extra points to your final score. You don’t need to check all things I mentioned, but at least a couple would be good. A copy of your diploma from Sorbonne is just not good enough, as prestigious as Sorbonne is.


On the technical side, it might happen that when, let’s say one day you get more inspired and you want to get back to the online application and write a beautiful motivation to knock the jury off their socks, you get an error message preventing you from accessing the website, the trick is to delete the temporary history of your browser, then close the browser and open it again. Again, I learnt this trick from a friend who freaked out one day and actually contacted the Traineeship Office who advised her to do so.


Anyway, once you have filled in everything, checked everything and you’re absolutely positive that’s the final version you will send, click the Submit button and you’ll get a 6 digits registration number starting with 4xxxxx and preceded by the name of the session you apply for, for example, M10/456789 (M10 from March 2010). You can then either print your application right away or save a .pdf copy on your computer to print out later. I suggest you save a .pdf copy either way (you might just need it, who knows?!). I would also strongly recommend you to check the .pdf copy you saved. Open it a couple of times to make sure it works (technology can be unreliable sometimes).


Oh yes, one friendly piece of advice is not to leave the filling of the online application to the last minute (like I did -> I’m a bad example). The website (and server) may crash due to the heavy use by so many applicants. You could just miss the deadline and then you’ll have to wait a few good months till you can try again.


I know, filling in the online application for an EC traineeship may sound like a bit of nightmare, but I can assure you that it’s not quite so scary. Stick to the tips I just wrote about and your chances will definitely increase.