Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Paul Harding from Civil and Public Service Jobs to give some advice for people considering this job:

Paul Harding

Prison Officer

Civil and Public Service Jobs

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Paul Harding
Go for it. If you feel you may be suitable, then you probably are. An ability to not take yourself too seriously would be an advantage!
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Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Economic Analyst - European Commission

"I suggest you speak to as many people as possible beforehand to learn how the process works and what skills and competencies the EU places an emphasis on." Alan Monks, Economic Analyst - European Commission 

I undertook a BA in European Business in Dublin City University and subsequently an MA in Economics in University College Dublin.

After completing the MA, I secured a traineeship to work at the European Commission – a great experience which has really stood to me professionally. I then returned to Dublin and worked for several years in the Central Bank of Ireland, which gave me important insights into policy making within the euro area.



In 2013, the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) ran a competition seeking to recruit financial economists. I found out about it from an information session held in the European Commission’s office in Dublin.

When I passed the initial selection stage, I got in touch with the EU Jobs team in the Department of the Taoiseach, who provided me with invaluable advice on how to prepare for the various stages of the assessment centre.

Working in the Directorate-General 

In March 2014, I got the good news that I’d passed the interview stage. I started working in the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) of the European Commission the following September. I work on the country desk for the Czech Republic in DG ECFIN and my day-to-day work is centred on macroeconomic analysis of that country.

Some of this work can be quite short-term, such as responding to briefing requests from senior management or more long-term, such as undertaking research projects. The diversity of the work is extremely enjoyable. So too is the high degree of interaction it involves with other people, be they colleagues on the country desks, senior management, or contacts in the national administration in Prague.

My Advice

I would advise a person interested in working in the EU institutions to explore all of their options for doing so. In addition to EPSO competitions, there are a wide range of options, such as contract agent positions, which you could consider applying for. Completing a traineeship at the European Commission was an important career step for me and something I’d recommend graduates to consider.

It provides an excellent opportunity for someone in the early stages of their career to get to know the work of the EU – whether or not you go on to work in the EU institutions, you’ll find the experience will stand to you. For anyone undertaking an EPSO competition, I suggest you speak to as many people as possible beforehand to learn how the process works and what skills and competencies the EU places an emphasis on.

You should definitely also get in touch with the EU Job team at Department of the Taoiseach – they’re there to help you secure an EU post, so take advantage!

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Article by: Alan Monks