Thursday, 30 July 2009


It's not that I am popular, just that there are a great many young graduates looking to climb the first rung of the Brussels ladder.

The unexpected departure of my (Portuguese) parliamentary assistant - lured away by the offer of more money to work for a Portuguese MEP - forced me to look for a replacement at short notice. An e-mail notice did the rounds of the Brussels' networks and the applications came pouring in. And poured. And poured. Seven days later 755 had arrived. At one point close to the deadline the monitor screen was showing them arrive at a steady rate of one per minute.

Piles of CVs and cover letters were sorted by my team, who speedily eliminated all those who hadn't followed the advert instructions, whose English was poor, or who hadn't bothered to tailor their letters to reflect my interests, but that still left a few dozen excellent candidates to be trimmed to a shortlist by little more than subjective impressions. A few were mature and looking for a career change, but most were doing the rounds of internships in Brussels.

A day of interviews, a final choice made between outstanding people each offering a very different approach to the job, hours of dilemma and debate about which course to take, then one very nice phone call to make and a whole series of "with regret" e-mails to write.

The winner? A 24 year old French woman with degrees from both Lancaster and Manchester Universities in my region, a strong interest in environmental causes, and loads of personality.

No comments: