One year later (or EPSO is making a fool of itself)

In case you ever wanted to work for any European Institution (European Commission, European Parliament, …) you should know that the whole application process is carried out by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). The idea is to centralize all public calls in a single institution to optimize resources and, of course, to minimize unfair recommendations.

With things as they are I decided last year to apply for one of these calls (CAST27) to become a Contractual Agent (limited term contract). I did the first test by the end of July, and by mid-September I knew I had passed the exam.

Then I was invited to participate in a second exam in mid-December, with results expected to be published by the end of March (2008). As you see the process is pretty slow, what is understandable, we’re thousands of candidates applying for many different positions, and everything has to be done properly and transparently.

The problem is that unfortunately these dates were never met. The following text is a summary of the communications we have got from EPSO during the last months (everything is publicly accessible here, except few personal communications I got through the EPSO system for registered candidates).

  • 15 November 2007 (exam announcement): “Competence test on 14 December 2007.”
  • 16 January 2008 (expected results): “Scientific Adviser (all specialisations), Translator, Graduate Engineer (all specialisations with exception of Civil engineers who sat multiple choice questions test): end of March 2008.”
  • 14 February 2008 (first delay, 1 month): “Updated indicative dates for publishing the results for the remaining CAST27 profiles: […] End of April 2008: Graduate Engineer, Scientific Advisers and Translator (FG IV).”
  • 29 May 2008 (second delay, 2 months!): “The marking of the competency tests for the profiles “Scientific adviser” (FG IV) and “Graduate engineer” (FG IV) is taking longer than expected due to the complexity of the marking process […]. We apologise for the additional delay in communicating the results of these remaining profiles. Further information regarding the results will be announced via our Latest News by the end of June 2008.”
  • 3 July 2008 (“ehem, we have no news”): “Regarding the results of the competency tests for the profiles “Scientific adviser” (FG IV) and “Graduate engineer” (FG IV) we regret we do not have any additional news at this stage. As soon as the marks for these profiles are available, candidates will be informed of them through the Latest News.”
  • 1 August 2008 (“ops, we still have no clue”): “The marking of the selection tests for EPSO/CAST27/4/07 in which you took part has not been yet fully completed. Several tests still need to be corrected. As it is EPSO’s intention to publish the results for all candidates within your profile at the same time, I would like to inform you that the results will be communicated to you by the end of August / mid-September.”

One year after starting the process we still don’t have results for the second test (initially expected for the end of March), and all we know after two delays and two “no-news” announcements is that the “results will be communicated to you by the end of August / mid-September”. Do you want to bet? Oh come on, this is ridiculous.

All in all I’m a lucky person as I’ve got a great job and by no means I plan to move to the EU if one day I finally discover I passed the exam — the funny thing is that after passing these two tests you normally need to do lobbying to get a position! As a potential EU worker I feel unmotivated, as an European citizen, embarrassed.

Meaningful lectures

Empty, by Shaylor

How many lectures, conferences, speeches … do you attend during a year? Dozens? You go there, you take some notes, and you forget about it forever.

However, there are rare exceptions. You go to the lecture, you take some notes, and for one reason or another, you remember and review the notes once and again. That is a meaningful lecture; the guy had something to say, and fortunately you were there to listen.

I attended one of those meaningful lectures several months ago, during the stage at the Commission. We had two senior speakers: DG Research Director General José Manuel Silva Rodríguez and the Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik. They both said interesting things in a variety of topics, but I particularly remember Potočnik’s part.

He decided to give us, the young newcomers, some wise advices for a successful professional career (he is the former Slovenia’s Minister for European Affairs as he’s not yet 50, so we may say he had a successful one –ah, and he has a blog–). During his speech he pointed out the following items (please note this is not a transcription but just my notes):

  • Learn fast.
  • Be with the right people.
  • Do not go too high too quickly.
  • Do not be in a hurry for earning much money.
  • If you want to work for the Commission (*), get some years of experience outside. Both parties will benefit.

Maybe it’s not rocket science, but they definitely should be in the first chapter of every hitchhikers guide for the EU galaxy!

(*) You can probably apply this for any international organism.