We present you our exclusive interview with Elena Perez, former Development Intern at Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) from March to May 2021.
1. Describe yourself in three words: resolute, committed, resilient.
2. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Spaniard who loves engaging in countless projects and bringing people together to work for a common mission. Thanks to my family and my determination to live new adventures, I have had the chance to live a fairly broad international experience where I discovered many places, peoples and cultures. Academically, I am a Business Administration graduate from Loyola Andalucía University (Spain) and Loyola University of Chicago (USA); and I am finalising my studies in International Relations, thanks to which I am currently enjoying an Erasmus exchange programme at the University of Namur (Belgium).
3. Can you give us a brief description of your work (main tasks) at JESC?
At JESC, as a development intern, I had the opportunity to serve in a wide variety of projects. On one hand, I assisted with’ prospective research for corporations, foundations, and individual donors. This involved updating and maintaining the fundraising database and ensuring accuracy and consistency across the records, while mapping these opportunities in the framework of Europe.
I would like to add that during my time at JESC, I had the opportunity to work with other staff and discovered the European Leadership Programme (ELP) that, if I may say, is one of the most holistic and complete programs that I have seen for young professionals (in this case, based in Brussels) as it really focus on the person’s leadership in a truly deep and reflective way.
On the other hand, I provided support in data gathering for proposal writing of the European Solidarity Corps Quality Label, assisted at conferences and webinars to become an JESC tutor, assisted information sessions on the JESC programs and on the Quality Label process itself.
Moreover, as the JESC project is organised in collaboration with the Loyola International Office, I was one of the main members involved in the liaison between Loyola University and JESC. I also conducted market research on volunteering, community building, spirituality and meditation, and designed online applications to support and guide a pilot project at JESC.
4. How does this internship relate to your career goals (or how can this experience help with your future career)?
Personally, I believe that all experiences mark and help us to develop as well-rounded people with a greater self-knowledge of who we are and what we want. I started this internship with a strong desire to learn about the impact of an organisation such as JESC in the EU framework. Indeed, the truth is that I feel very grateful because it has made me realise all the actors that influence the EU, the processes that exist, the programmes and, most importantly, to discover the great community that is willing to be part of it, to go further in the design of the EU and to work to keep it alive, responding to the needs of today and of the future.
5. What are the essential skills you have learned at JESC?
Doing this internship at JESC in the midst of the pandemic has helped me develop a good sense of responsibility and time management. More precisely, making presentations of the research analysis that I have carried out in various projects has helped me to develop a critical thinking skills so as to synthesise the most important aspects.
In addition, I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to engage in interactive webinars in English and French, which allowed me to enhance my communication and social skills in both languages.
Lastly, the contact collaboration with Eleonora, the director of the Development Department and my supervisor, has allowed me to experience the organised work and development behind multiple parallel projects in an impressive way. Without a doubt, this has helped me to perceive those capacities that are so necessary in any organisation to grow envisioning a future according to the needs and opportunities.
6. Can you tell us about a project or accomplishment you did at JESC that you are proud of, and why?
One of the projects I am most proud to have been involved in is the ESC’s Quality Label. I think it is a very beneficial project for future volunteers and students, which will provide a very positive professional and personal experience. In addition, I was delighted to be able to participate in training courses with other organisations also involved in JESC. This showed me other types of organisations and the great work they do to provide a meaningful, in-depth and multicultural opportunity for volunteers in such diverse fields.
7. What do you want the future to look like, professionally?
Even though I am still in the process of learning and discerning, I can say that I have developed a deep passion for Public Policy and the European Union. I would love to be part of this wonderful project that is the EU, and to help create efficient policies that ensure the well-being of every single person. Whether in the heart of one of the institutions, in a lobbying organization, research centre or an organisation attached to the EU, I do not know yet; but I am absolutely sure that, wherever I end up, I will put everything I have received at the service of others to achieve a more just and caring society.
8. Share your final thoughts here.
I feel truly blessed to have been able to have this experience. I am deeply grateful to the people at JESC for trusting me before and during the internship, and for welcoming me on the team since the first day; and to Universidad Loyola Andalucía for collaborating with organisations such as JESC in order to grant us such high-quality opportunities. In addition, I would especially like to thank Eleonora Vitale for sharing with me her expertise and the passion she has in everything she does. She is definitely an example that I will always remember and strive to follow.
Elena Perez, Former Development Intern at JESC
Interview by Soraia Ribeiro
JESC Communications Officer