Traineeship at the European Union: Alumna Elena Assenza

Alumna Elena Assenza, originally from Ragusa (Sicily), graduated cum laude in International Affairs in 2017. She is currently a trainee at the Council of the European Union (EU) in Brussels, Belgium.

Elena Assenza

Elena Assenza

What is your current role at the EU Council?
I am about to complete a traineeship at the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, more specifically, in the Directorate-General COMM’s Information and Outreach Unit. My main responsibilities and tasks include assistance in the research, editing and drafting process of the Council’s Think Tank Review (TTR), a monthly selection of EU-related papers published by think tanks across the world. Each month the TTR team and I research, select, and assess publications that are most relevant to the policy developments and decision-making processes of the Council and the EU. I also draft analyses and bibliographies for internal and external audiences, as well as online content for the Council Library Blog.

Can you tell us about your Master’s project at the University of Oslo?
I was admitted to the Master’s Programme in Human Rights at the University of Oslo upon graduating from JCU. The programme focuses on human rights in theory and practice from an interdisciplinary perspective. International human rights are analyzed from a legal, political, historical and philosophical point of view and human rights law is approached as part of public international law at global and regional levels.

My MA thesis analyzed the role that human rights practices adopted by businesses and effective accountability for corporations involved in human rights violations play in sustainable development and peace. My thesis was later published in the #12 Occasional Paper Series by the Norwegian Centre on Human Rights (NCHR).

What is the best part of your job?
Working in the heart of Europe and being in constant contact with European politics and policies covering all Council configurations. During the European Summits that took place in October and December 2019, I had the opportunity to assist the Council’s Press Office by covering Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s press conferences and briefings. This has undoubtedly been one of the most invaluable experiences of my traineeship!

What inspired you to study International Affairs at JCU?
I was curious about the curriculum in International Affairs as it provides a deep understanding of international politics and institutions, combined with economics and history. When I first enrolled in 2014, I knew I wanted to pursue graduate studies and a professional career with an international dimension and the International Affairs major turned out to be the first step towards my career goals.

What advice would you give to graduating JCU students?
Make the most of every opportunity you have in life, both at a professional and personal level! You never know what can happen. And most importantly, trust your instincts: deep inside you, you already know what you need to do to pursue your goals!