Skip to main content
© J. Kelly Brito, 2017 © J. Kelly Brito, 2017

Tips to write a motivation letter for traineeships at the EU institutions

Síðast uppfært Mánudagur, 15/11/2021

Applying for traineeships may become a tedious and stressing task, yet we will help you to get closer to that letter that will make you land your first experience in the EU institutions.

There are different programmes to obtain a traineeship in EU institutions: Blue Book Traineeship in the Commission, Schuman Traineeships in the European Parliament, funded traineeships in EU External Delegations, traineeships at the Council, the European Ombudsman, or experiences at any of the Agencies.
To demonstrate your interest and display your qualifications you will have to carefully write the application form in each case. The format to submit your candidature may differ between a dedicated tool - such is the case of the Blue Book - or emails with the required documents. 

A work-experience in the EU institutions is the best way to understand how the EU works from the inside and get you started in a fruitful career in EU-related affairs. That is why there are thousands of applicants across the continent for each call, nonetheless, we will give you some tips to make your application stand out and increase your chances to be selected.

1. Take into account the space and character limit

It may sound obvious, but this is one of the first things you should consider when you are going to draft your motivation letter. Usually, the range is between 1,000 and 2,000 characters, depending on the application, and this will affect what information you put in and how detailed it can be. 

2. Be selective

Having in mind the space you allocated, you should select very wisely what you are going to write. It’s likely that you have had various work-experiences (like summer jobs or part-time jobs in combination with your studies) or volunteering activities before, but you should only consider them if they relate to the position you are applying for.

3. Link your achievements to how they can contribute to the position

You certainly have achieved many things throughout your academic and personal life which could be an advantage to the position, but so have the rest of applicants. Hence, you shouldn’t aim to send a list with all your certificates since primary school to prove that your candidature excels among the rest. Instead, your experiences can serve the application if you elaborate on what you learnt in a way that explains how they can contribute to the position you are applying for. Put in a different way, the best way to highlight your background is to show how this will help you to carry out the duties related to the position.

4. Get familiar with EU jargon

Thanks to its diversity, during a traineeship in the institutions you will be able to come across many EU languages on a daily basis. However, you will be most likely using English and you should know that some words appear more often than others. This could help you to insert some of them in your motivation letter because it is a subtle way to demonstrate your interest and knowledge of the area where you will be involved. For example, some of these are worth having in mind: cooperation, fairness, development, integration, solidarity, diversity, sustainability, growth, or potential. Make sure you also understand the basic functioning/structures of the EU in order to use the correct vocabulary. Indeed, in the motivation letter, you will have to explain why you want to apply to a specific DG, unit or Agency.

5. Your personal touch

Last but not least, don’t forget that you should feel comfortable with the letter you send and that it should reflect what you want to highlight for the position. Make sure to follow a specific structure that serves to organise what you want to express about yourself, but don’t make it too difficult for a reader to get to know you.
You may be sending that letter to your future colleagues!

Read more about traineeships in EU institutions in the section Traineeships.

This content is currently not available in Íslenska