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Persönliche Erfahrungsberichte

Agnieszka Wendel, linguistic assistant at the Polish Translation Unit

I have been working for the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) Polish language department in Luxembourg for 15 years.

I studied Spanish Philology and American Studies in Poland, at the Jagiellonian University. Before working at DGT I was an official at the American Consulate in Krakow and wanted to continue my work path in an international environment.

I like my job because:

  • I feel part of the European society,
  • it’s never boring,
  • it helps me develop as a professional.

Working at DGT gives me lot of satisfaction. I can feel I am doing something that really counts in the world. Dealing with everyday problems and world issues lets me see and understand what EU means for all of us. The job of the linguistic assistant gives me a lot of opportunities because it is developing along with the world. When I started 15 years ago it was a completely different kind of work. Everything developed, skills, software etc. I had the chance to acquire new computer skills, to learn German and French, to develop my social skills. I also had the chance to work for a few months in the European Parliament, which was one of the most exciting experiences for me.

The biggest challenge for me is to reconcile the professional and private life. I am a single mother with two young children, so I really appreciate how DGT lets me organize my working time (e.g., part time) to manage life in a way that is suitable for everyone.

I moved to Luxembourg in 2007, which was a big change for me, as I left a big city of almost 1 million inhabitants for a much smaller capital. Luxembourg welcomed me with rain, low traffic and its internationality. I really liked the efficiency of the public transport, which offered me many options to get to work smoothly and usually on time. Living in Luxembourg opens your mind. You can hear so many languages in the street, you can make friends from all over the Europe, you really feel you are a part of the world.

Linguistic assistant at the Polish Translation Unit at the European Commission (Directorate-General for Translation)

Ann De Wachter, linguistic assistant at the Dutch translation unit

My name is Ann, I am Belgian and I speak Dutch as mother tongue as well as English, French, Spanish and German. I joined the European Commission in 2003 with a temporary contract and became a permanent official in 2005. With good preparation and determination, passing an open competition is certainly not a mission impossible!

Working for the EU has been nothing but a positive experience. You work with enthusiastic, dedicated and competent colleagues. You can constantly develop your professional and personal skills through a large variety of courses. The institutions promote job mobility, so you can acquire experience in different positions throughout your career.

I worked in four different positions before I joined Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) Dutch language department as a linguistic assistant. I like the variety of my tasks and the independent way of working. I can put my language knowledge, eye for detail and practical approach to good use. Good word processing, prioritising and communication skills are also important, as well as a proactive attitude.

In my work for DGT, I deal with different types of texts related to all domains in which the EU is active. I will never forget the process leading to the Brexit-agreement. It took a whole team of translators and assistants to ensure timely delivery of the translations involved. International crises, such as the war in Ukraine, also have an impact on your work. Events like these, both foreseen and unexpected, show how much our work – that of assistants included – is subject to the ins and outs of EU-politics.

I also love working in an international and multicultural environment. When you walk through the building, you see posters and newspapers from different countries. In the elevator or cafeteria, you hear different languages. When you socialize with your colleagues, you learn a lot about their culture and habits. Even though my direct colleagues, from the Dutch language department, all speak Dutch as a mother tongue, comparisons between Flemish and Dutch from the Netherlands can lead to amusing and animated conversations.

Linguistic assistant at the Dutch translation unit at the European Commission (Directorate-General for Translation)

Goran Lucic, lingustic assistant in the Croatian-Slovenian lawyer-linguist tandem team

I started working for the European institutions in 2014, moved around a lot as contract/temporary agent in the Council and the European Commission, before finally joining the Quality of Legislation Directorate (DQL) in 2019 as assistant to lawyer-linguists.

Working in the DQL is quite challenging and interesting at the same time, as we are the final instance before something gets published in the Official Journal of the EU, so we have to be very attentive and have an eye for eventual typos and/or other kinds of mistakes.

The thing about working here that I like a lot is that, although we are in a multicultural environment, in our rather small tandem teams we are in constant touch with our mother-tongue.

Another very important aspect is that, on the one hand, we are not at all micromanaged by the hierarchy, while, on the other hand, managers do take care of their staff's needs by empowering them to get adequate training to guarantee the best possible service.

Lingustic assistant in the Croatian-Slovenian lawyer-linguist tandem team at the Council of the European Union

Ingrid, Estonian Language Unit

I studied to be a primary school teacher in Estonia, but became instead an assistant in the Estonian Language Unit of the Translation Service of the Council in Brussels for 13 years, from where I have now progressed to become a Local Resources Manager in the same unit.

I never really planned to live and work abroad, but life decided otherwise. I came to Belgium almost 17 years ago and have been working in the Council for 14 years. The Council is a multicultural and multilingual working place. The Estonian Language Unit (as are other language units in the Council) is special because most of my colleagues are Estonian. Working here gives me a chance to stay in touch with Estonian culture and my mother tongue.  After so many years living in Belgium I have grown to love this small and peculiar country, mostly known for its chocolate and beer. But those who are willing to search further will find that there is much more to it.

Estonian Language Unit of the Translation Service of the Council

Jana Zhvanko, linguistic assistant at the Estonian Translation Unit

I decided to participate in an EPSO competition for translation assistants; I passed it, and joined Parliament in 2008! Being an open, active and communicative person, I made the most of it and enjoyed every single day of my working life here – and I still do.

My work involves the use of a range of both linguistic and technical skills, which makes it very dynamic. Given that we use a variety of different tools and working methods, and that our technical instruments are always being developed further, there is always room to grow personally and broaden one’s knowledge.

For me, working for DG TRAD at Parliament is like building a linguistic bridge between the political world and the citizens of each member state. The EP’s newest projects bring us closer to people, and help us to connect and interact with them. I see myself as part of a big structure: as it is the case with all complex, multi-faceted mechanisms, every single part of the system is important. Only together do we make it work!

Linguistic assistant at the Estonian Translation Unit at European Parliament (Directorate-General for Translation (TRAD))

Maja Vuksan Knežević - Translation assistant at the Croatian Translation Unit

I joined Parliament in 2017. Previously, I had worked as a translator in Croatia and my linguistic background helped me to master various tasks involved in this job, but it was not a prerequisite. I work with colleagues from diverse academic and social backgrounds and I am happy to say that I have learned a lot from them, as the work of a translation assistant is very diverse and dynamic.

What I enjoy the most about my job is the feeling of belonging and contributing to the European project – especially given the essential role that the EP's multilingualism policy plays in protecting the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Union. It promotes transparency and understanding – values that are also highly respected in our work environment.

With its wide variety of training opportunities and emphasis on professional development, the EP is a great place to learn and develop. The work environment is welcoming and allows you to take initiative and use your skills and expertise for the greater good, while its multicultural nature gives you an opportunity to meet incredible people from all over Europe who share similar values.

Translation assistant at the Croatian Translation Unit, Directorate-General for Translation (TRAD), European Parliament

Renée Idzerda, linguistic assistant for the Dutch Translation Unit

After gaining 15 years of experience in the private sector (mainly in internal and external communication), I joined the European Commission in 2013 and took up my current position at Directorate-General for Translation (DGT).

As a translation assistant at the European Commission, you are always in the middle of the news. Whereas in other Directorate-Generals the focus is on one policy area, at DGT all possible themes are covered. And we receive all types of text formats, such as legislative proposals, decisions, speeches, press releases, letters, etc. We are therefore always involved in current EU policy.

As an assistant you are at the service of others: translators, the head of unit, other assistants, etc. There is always someone who needs your help. Moreover, translators work to strict deadlines. Being able to quickly assess what is important, i.e. recognising priorities, is therefore a must. Especially as these priorities can change. In order to deal with unexpected twists in the planning, you need to have talent for organising. Good teamwork and communication with colleagues are also crucial.

As a translation assistant, you have many diverse responsibilities. It is therefore a plus if you like multi-tasking. Moreover, you work very independently: each assistant handles (every aspect of) the translation requests within his or her portfolio. The work is therefore varied. Translators count on you to spontaneously jump in where you can, so that they can focus on their work.

When I started out as a translation assistant, I had a lot to deal with. Fortunately, DGT provides all the necessary training. Moreover, during your induction period you are coached by experienced colleagues, either from your own or from another language department. Continuous training is encouraged. And this is very welcome, because the translation world quickly evolves, also from a technological point of view. Only if you master new applications quickly you can offer the best possible support.

Dutch and Flemish people work together in our department. The working atmosphere is surprisingly informal, more than you might expect from an EU institution. There is a lot of collegiality. This not only ensures that we deliver high-quality translations as a team, but also that it is a pleasure to work here, even in periods of heavy work pressure.

The official language in our department is Dutch, our mother tongue. That is quite special in such an international environment. It makes working together comfortable. We also use other languages - mainly English and French - on a daily basis in our contacts with colleagues from other departments.

As an assistant, you work with people at various levels within the organisation. Strong language and communication skills are therefore essential!

Working as a translation assistant at the European Commission means, above all, helping to steer the work of translators, the head of unit and your fellow assistants in the right direction. In this way, you contribute to the communication with EU citizens.

Linguistic assistant for the Dutch Translation Unit at European Commission (Directorate-General for Translation)

Sílvia Feliciano, Council of the European Union

My name is Silvia and I have been working for the Council of the European Union for almost 10 years. I started my career in the institutions in the Legal Service of the Council, in the Department of Quality of Legislation — DQL. Here I learned how to work in an international and multicultural environment, where respect for others and cooperation prevail. In DQL our mission is to check the drafting quality of the Council’s legal texts and to ensure that all texts, in the 24 official EU languages, are legally and linguistically consistent. Ensuring the quality of legal acts is about safeguarding that they will be applied equally across the EU. Over this time, I have also had the opportunity to participate in various projects and to be an in-house trainer. In the Council we have the necessary tools to pursue our professional and personal development. At first, coming to Brussels was a real challenge. I quickly discovered, however, that Brussels is a very lively city, with a great cultural offer, with lots of parks and gardens, where you can stroll, do sport or meet with friends for a walk or picnic. Here we find all the opportunities an European capital has to offer in parallel with the quality of life of a “small” city.

Tessa Pouels González, lawyer-linguist assistant in the Dutch team in the Directorate Quality of Legislation

My name is Tessa, I come from Spain and I work as a lawyer-linguist assistant in the Dutch team.

When I finished my master's degree in legal translation, I thought that my next step would be to work as a freelancer, but I am proud to say that the European institutions offer opportunities to motivated young people eager to be part of the European project.

Working at DQL – where we check the drafting quality of legal acts of the European Council and of the Council – is both challenging and rewarding, as you get to participate and gain an insight into the process of adopting legislation. It is most motivating to be part of a multicultural team with colleagues from different academic, professional and social backgrounds where you are constantly encouraged to continue growing personally and professionally, while benefiting from good working conditions, a wide range of training opportunities and the possibility to change jobs between services and institutions.

If you always wanted an international challenging and interesting career, I highly recommend working for the European institutions. Besides, life in Brussels is enriching and interesting with many activities and events to enjoy.

Lawyer-linguist assistant in the Dutch team in the Directorate Quality of Legislation (DQL) at the Council of the European Union

Zinaida Ankova, linguistic assistant for the Italian Translation Unit

I joined the European Commission 13 years ago, and I am currently based in Luxembourg. I am from Bratislava, Slovakia and since my childhood I was convinced that I would one day be working and living abroad.

Before passing a competition for assistants and joining the EC, I worked in different international organisations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent in Hungary and Switzerland, United Nations in New York.

I am currently working at the Italian Translation Unit as a Linguist Assistant. Being Slovak of Hungarian origin, this perfectly matches the ‘’United in Diversity’’ slogan of the EU and I am proud of that.

The Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) is an attractive place to work, for both translators and assistants. An excellent knowledge of Italian (or any other EU language, depending on the language department) at a native speaker level is mandatory.

My everyday work consists of supporting the translation and terminology work of the unit and the department, handling translation requests, preparing translations and other language products, handling outsourced assignments, screening originals and pre-processing reports for references to background documents linked to translation, document alignments, checking their quality and correcting them, finalising documents from the point of view of typography and page-layout and maintaining translation project memories.

This kind of work, varied and exciting, keeps me mentally fit, challenged and gives no room for procrastination or boredom.  

EC and DGT offers to the newcomers numerous trainings that are remarkably well done, helping to quickly get familiar with job requirements. On top of these, I am very lucky that in my Unit I could benefit from an excellent coaching of my assigned mentors. My team and hierarchy provide support, recognition and daily contributes towards an outstanding working environment.

For me working for the EC, an organisation that represents the interest of 450 million EU citizens, is a huge responsibility, commitment and source of pride and personal satisfaction.

Linguistic assistant for the Italian Translation Unit at European Commission (Directorate-General for Translation)