The apprenticeship option at the School of Public Affairs

  • © Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock© Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

The possibility of doing an apprenticeship has been offered at the School of Public Affairs since 2016. Approximately fifty students were first attracted by this option when the program was launched; this year, more than 130 students (about  20% of M2 students) chose to complete the second year of their master’s program that way. 

Who has access to the apprenticeship option at the School of Public Affairs?

The opportunity to complete the second year of the master's program with an apprenticeship is open to all the School of Public Affairs students under the age of 30 and with a sufficient proficiency in French (B2 level at least), whichever their master’s degree and policy stream is.

Why complete the second year of a master's degree with an apprenticeship?

The apprenticeship offers several advantages: on the one hand, it allows students to acquire solid professional experience and to apply without any delay their theoretical knowledge as well as the professional skills they developed during their studies, while benefiting from the support of a "maître d'apprentissage" (mentor within the host structure) and a "tuteur d'apprentissage" (who creates a link between Sciences Po and the host structure). On the other hand, it enables concrete financial benefit: tuition fees are paid by the host structure and the student receives a salary. Lastly, once they have graduated, trainees enter the job market very quickly. 

The School of Public Affairs students are recruited as trainees in both private and public organizations. They are currently working at Canal +, Ariane Groupe, Microsoft, Chanel, the Fondation Hermès, Edf or Engie... but also at the French Senate, the Paris City Administration, the Ministry of Health and Solidarity, the Ministry of Culture or the Musée d'Orsay. The apprenticeship is therefore intended for both students who wish to join the private sector once they have graduated and for those who plan to prepare for the administrative competitive examinations; the experience acquired enables them to have a deep understanding of how the administration system works, its strengths as well as its constraints, which students can put to good use during the competitive examinations.

How is the M2 apprenticeship year structured?

The student spends 3 days in the workplace (Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday) followed by 2 days of classes at Sciences Po (Thursday-Friday), with a total of 35 hours per week, for a full year. The student does not benefit from university breaks, during which he/she is in his/her hosting structure, but the trainee status gives him/her 2.5 days of paid vacations per month (or even more, depending on the collective agreement) and 5 revision days per year.

What courses does the apprentice take every week? 

Apprenticeship students benefit from a curriculum which is adapted to their particular program and schedule. In addition to the courses related to their policy stream, they have a reinforced offer of practical courses: they attend computer and management tools workshops during the fall semester; in the spring semester, they attend management workshops that allow them to take a step back from this long professional experience and to equip them for their future responsibilities. They are also required to write a thesis which they defend at the end of the academic year. 

How do I find an apprenticeship contract?

The student is in charge of his/her apprenticeship search, but has many resources at his/her disposal. Offers are regularly posted on the School of Public Affairs’"Infos Carrières" newsletter, on the Sciences Po Careers website and on dedicated platforms. The job offer does not necessarily have to be related to the student's policy stream, as long as the missions are in line with his or her professional project. 

 

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Read the testimony of students who have chosen the apprenticeship option: 

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Promoting professional equality within the Banque de France

Clémentine tells about her experience as an apprentice in a gender diversity network
  • Clémentine Buisson à la Banque de France ©CBClémentine Buisson à la Banque de France ©CB

Clémentine Buisson is in her second year of the Master in Public Policy in Apprenticeship. Every week, she alternates between her courses at the School of Public Affairs and managing communication for the gender diversity network of the Banque de France. She looks back on her career path and tells us about her daily life.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE APPRENTICESHIP PATH?

I felt the need to gain professional experience, but I didn't want to take a gap year since I wanted to finish my studies in 2021. Apprenticeship allows me to meet this need for experience while at the same time ensuring a relatively comfortable material situation.

YOU WORK WITHIN THE GENDER DIVERSITY NETWORK OF THE BANQUE DE FRANCE. WHAT ARE YOUR MISSIONS?

Yes, I work within the Talentu'elles network: it is a network whose main goal is to promote professional equality and the recognition of all talents within the Banque de France. My missions therefore fall within this framework. I am in charge of the network's internal and external communication, notably via social networks. I also work on the organization of events - I contact the speakers, am in charge of logistics, etc... These missions lead me to participate in the development of the network.

YOU OBTAINED THE CERTIFICAT ÉGALITÉ FEMMES-HOMMES ET POLITIQUES PUBLIQUES LAST JUNE. DOES THIS TRAINING HELP YOU IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES?

Yes it does! Even if I was already informed and aware of the salary and professional inequalities before obtaining the Certificate, the courses and meetings offered in this framework have allowed me to have a more in-depth knowledge of these subjects and therefore to be a source of proposals in the context of my work-study program. During certain sessions we were able to discuss the influence of cognitive biases on the professional environment, team dynamics, hiring and promotion processes for example. Thanks to this, I was able to propose the setting up of a working group on "nudge" and the fight against stereotypes in companies as part of my work-study program.

HOW ARE YOUR WEEKS ORGANIZED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE HEALTH CRISIS?

I work at the Banque de France headquarters on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then I have distance learning via Zoom on Thursdays and Fridays. As soon as I started working again I realized how lucky I was to be able to work on site: it allows me to balance the week with the distance learning courses, which is undoubtedly more reassuring and stimulating when taking up a new position. I'm a bit apprehensive about the academic reporting times as my weeks are already intense. But it's also this rhythm that makes the experience of the apprenticeship so stimulating!

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

Professionally, I would like to continue working in the field of gender equality, but I have not yet decided on a type of structure. I'm just starting to map the players in this field whose missions interest me. I am also very interested in ecological transition issues, especially because I had the chance to participate in a project of the Policy Lab of the School of Public Affairs on the theme of reducing the use of phytosanitary products in agricultural practices in France. To be continued.

Article origically published by Presage

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Great year for the School of Public Affairs' Competitive Exam Preparation!

  • Ministère de l'Europe et des affaires étrangères © Petr Kovalenkov/ShutterstockMinistère de l'Europe et des affaires étrangères © Petr Kovalenkov/Shutterstock

The latest results have just come in: with laureates in all the administrative competitive exams and 60% of ENA admissions (École Nationale d'Administration), Sciences Po’s Competitive exam preparation (PrépaConcours) gets a remarkable track record for the year 2020.

60% OF THE STUDENTS ADMITTED TO THE ENA COME FROM SCIENCES PO

Admission results for the external entrance exam to the École Nationale d'Administration (ENA) were published at the end of 2020: out of the 40 admitted students, 23 came from Sciences Po, i.e. 60% of the laureates. These results are the culmination of quite a satisfying year for the Sciences Po Competitive exam preparation. Over the past twelve months, Sciences Po students have passed competitive exams in all areas of the senior civil service: 

  • Hospital Director: 29% of those admitted
  • Senior Manager at the Banque de France: 56% of those admitted
  • Senate Administrator: 50% of those admitted
  • Adviser to the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs: 100% of those admitted
  • Territorial Administrator: 45% of those admitted to INET - National Institute of Territorial Studies (Institut national des études territoriales)
  • Social Protection Executive: 17% of the admissions to EN3S - National School of Social Security (École nationale supérieure de la sécurité sociale

According to Yann Algan, Dean of the School of Public Affairs, "the laureates of the 2020 edition of the competitive exams deserve to be congratulated twice: first, because they have passed particularly demanding exams, second, because they have managed to keep their motivation and degree of involvement intact in a very difficult sanitary crisis context, to which they have been able to constantly adapt. We are very happy and very proud of them". The Dean does not forget those who did not succeed in this year's competitions: "whether they have decided to follow other paths or to try their luck again, they deserve all our admiration and congratulations". Lastly, he acknowledges the commitment of the teachers, who were also able to adapt their teaching to a new situation: "We express our deep gratitude to them: these great results are also theirs".

A REFERENCE PREPARATION OPEN TO ALL

Since the start of the 2018 academic year, the Competitive exam preparation department has been providing courses adapted to prepare for fifteen different administrative competitive exams and has been issuing an Advanced Certificate of Preparation for Senior Civil Service Professions: 164 students obtained this certificate in 2020. This teaching has now become a benchmark in France to join the senior civil service.

The School of Public Affairs Competitive exam preparation welcomes Sciences Po graduates as well as Master 2 students and candidates with excellent academic backgrounds from other institutions: Instituts d'Etudes politiques, Écoles normales supérieures, universities, as well as business and engineering schools.  

Article initially published by the Sciences Po editorial team

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Tony Brando, Class of 2019

Technical advisor and parliamentary collaborator, graduated from the Master in Public Policy, Public Administration stream, in apprenticeship
  • Tony Brando © Max BouteilleTony Brando © Max Bouteille

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?

I believe I am part of the panel of "atypical profiles" to whom Sciences Po gives a chance every year. At a very young age, I worked in various jobs - store clerk, cleaner, stock handler, waiter - in parallel with my schooling. I applied to Sciences Po one year after I graduated from high school and dropped out of law school which, in many ways, didn't suit me when I was 18 years old. I arrived in Paris in 2014 and the cost of living in Paris pushed me to do various internships in parallel with my studies. I started with an internship at the Sciences Po Alumni Association where I was able to learn codes that were foreign to me and develop my first skills in networking and communication. I was then lucky enough to be able to work in structures where innovation was at the heart of the design process. First of all, the Centre des Jeunes Dirigeants d'entreprise - Centre for Young Business Leaders - (CJD) where we observed the projects of inspiring and committed entrepreneurs. Later, I joined Lab Pareto where I was leading a project aimed at improving relations between large groups and VSE/SMEs with the goal of creating jobs in the different regions of France. Finally, I interned at the start-up "Fempo", created by two former students of the school, which marketed the first French menstrual underwear. 

After Sciences Po undergraduate studies ("Collège Universitaire"), I chose the Master in Public Policy because the public sector seemed to be in a state of reorganization and restructuring, and this would  allow me to be in a strategic position to move freely within the field. I wanted to do my second year of the Master's degree in the apprenticeship program and I was hired by the Direction Interministérielle de la Transformation Publique (DITP) as Public Innovation Project Manager. During this year, which was a key year for me, I was able to take responsibility for projects that aimed to "break out of the silos of the Administration" and to lead the "Future Publics" community, ie. the community of public innovators.

Following this experience, I was admitted to the "Egalité des chances" (Equal Opportunities) preparatory class at ENA (CP'ENA) where I was able to deepen my knowledge of French administration and obtain a Master's degree in "Public Administration" from the University of Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. During this year, I also carried out consulting missions for public services and I was contacted to speak at seminars on public innovation at the ENA and within several Regional Institutes of Administration (IRA).

After exploring the field of Administration and being driven by a real desire to transform the way public policies are conceived, I wanted to discover politics from the inside (because politicians take the final decisions at the end) and I was recruited by the Deputy and former Secretary of State for Digital Policy, Mounir Mahjoubi, as a technical advisor on subjects of participatory democracy. 

WHAT WERE THE MAIN STAGES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL PROJECT?

My first professional experiences in jobs far removed from what I am currently doing have been fundamental for me. Being at the end of the management chain allowed me to understand the behaviors and processes that lead a team towards the same goal...or, on the contrary, that develop a feeling of mistrust and favor avoidance strategies. My schooling at Sciences Po opened me up to the world and to disciplines that I would never have explored. It helped me understand that my professional project would take place in the public sector and that it would be driven by a desire to innovate and "do things differently," particularly on subjects on which public policy has stumbled for decades. My year in the apprenticeship program was also very important in my career because it allowed me to develop expertise and to meet inspiring and unique personalities with whom I am still collaborating today. 

HOW DID THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS FOR DEPUTY MOUNIR MAHJOUBI GO AND WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR POSITION AS TECHNICAL ADVISOR TODAY?  

At first, I simply sent an application following a LinkedIn post, but there were more than 500 candidates, so I wasn't too hopeful. Thanks to my internship at Sciences Po Alumni, I had been able to exchange with the Deputy for an article a few years ago and I took the liberty of sending him a short email to explain my strong motivation to join him. I then wrote a more formal cover letter before being contacted. I had a first interview of more than an hour with the Deputy and then a technical interview with his collaborator. Finally, I had a final interview with my employer to put me in a professional situation.

The Deputy recruited me to create bridges between our national action and the reality of the inhabitants of Paris's 19th arrondissement, who we try to represent and support as best as we can in their daily struggles. I feel like I change jobs every week! Some weeks are fully dedicated to solving the difficulties of the district, as was the case in December following a major internet failure in some neighborhoods. During the November lockdown, we launched a participative platform to help the inhabitants to better live through the lockdown by providing them with information from the "last meter", verified by us, regarding the Covid test procedures in the 19th arrondissement's laboratories or the bookstores that offered click and collect. We also produce parliamentary notes to shed light on the debate on digital transformation issues and lead a group of MPs looking for levers to spread "Sustainable Eating" in France, i.e. food that is respectful of the planet, of farmers and of the health of individuals. My work is thus characterized by flexibility: you have to be able to do everything, be able to understand the CAP reform, while organizing a virtual parliamentary meeting every week on social networks. I have learned a lot. 

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF YOUR STUDIES AT THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS TO THE POSITION YOU HOLD TODAY?  

The School of Public Affairs has allowed me to acquire theoretical skills and a transdisciplinary approach that are essential to my current job. I use my courses in public law, political economy and public finance as much as those in the "Apprenticeship" year, in which I learned how to produce quality communication materials. Courses on major digital transformations (I am thinking of Gilles Babinet's or Barbara Ubaldi's Open Government course) are very useful to me in all my work on these subjects. 

My schooling at Sciences Po has above all stimulated my curiosity, which today allows me to find resources in a myriad of disciplines. My apprenticeship year also led me to develop the interpersonal skills and adaptability that make me the young professional that I am. I would also like to mention the Sociology of Organizations seminar given by Henri Bergeron, which was a real revelation for me. It helps me enormously today to better understand power games and strategies within organizations. I mobilize this knowledge in all my speeches within the IRAs (instituts Régionaux d'Administration) in order to provide levers for change management to the future executives of the French state. 

WOULD YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR A STUDENT WHO WISHES TO WORK IN FRENCH PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS?

Above all, don't limit yourself to theoretical knowledge as it will not be sufficient in your future functions. The public service is reinventing itself and is recruiting more and more profiles capable of transforming concepts and ideas into operational realities. Be curious and don't hesitate to discover sectors or occupations that seem at first glance to be far removed from your professional project. Then, never consider your knowledge as acquired and definitive. The users of the devices you will create often have keys to improve them and enable them to achieve their goals in a constantly changing society. Finally, read some articles by the sociologist of organizations Michel Crozier! It's all there! Both the reasons for the ills of our institutions and their remedies. 

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International Organisation Career Fair (online)

February 15, 17 & 19, 2021
  • © Alexandros Michailidis© Alexandros Michailidis

On February 15, 17 & 19, 2021, Sciences Po will gather over 25 IOs for the International Organisation Career Fair. 

Students will learn more about their missions and openings, their recruitment processes and internship programmes.

All days long, students will be able to attend panel sessions, presentation sessions with representatives of various organisations and Meet&Greet with Alumni who work or have worked in international organisations. 

Dear students, prepare your forum well in advance, find out about international organisations beforehand with the resources made available to you on the Sciences Po Careers website, register for each session that you are interested in and come with your questions!

More Information and Compulsory Registration

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Watch the video of the 2020 edition (January 25, 2020)

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Exploring the “French-German motor” at Sciences Po and Freie Universität Berlin

Looking back at the January 2021 joint seminar
  • © DesignRage/Shutterstock© DesignRage/Shutterstock

Can one measure the existence of the “French-German motor”? Which impact will Brexit have on French and German policy preferences? These are some of the questions students of the dual master’s degree between Sciences Po and Freie Universität Berlin discussed during the joint seminar that was held in digital format on January 21-22, 2021 under the title “The French-German Motor and Europe”.

Taught by Dr. Anja Thomas, researcher at the European University Institute, the seminar is one of the cornerstones of the dual degree. First, it is the occasion for all students to meet, as each follows a taylor-made degree at Sciences Po and few share the same subjects. Second, it is the occasion to debate current dynamics in French-German relations. Esther Beaufils, French-German student, points out: “As a French-German dual citizen, I usually have a very critical perspective on either country. The seminar taught me to see things from different perspectives. For example, how Germans see the French education system.”

Johannes Grimmelt, dual degree student from Germany, adds: “In European Studies, one often focuses only on the EU level. This seminar showed how important it is to look at domestic processes as well. We gained insights into French and German politics and how they impact Europe.”

Students of the dual degree spend their first year at Sciences Po, where they choose between the Master in European Affairs and one of seven masters in International Affairs. The second year is spent at Freie Universität in Berlin, where students follow the Master in Political Sciences. Both Beaufils and Grimmelt are in their first year in the Master in European Affairs of the School of Public Affairs. Esther Beaufils explains: “France and Germany are two very different countries. The dual degree gives us the opportunity to be immersed in two different academic systems, two ways of teaching and of conducting research, and of course in two thriving cities, Paris and Berlin.”

In 2021, the dual degree between Sciences Po and Freie Universität Berlin celebrates its 30 years of existence. Since 1991, the two institutions have aimed to combine Sciences Po’s practical approach with Freie Universität’s more theory-based style in order to train future leaders of both countries in a spirit of European cooperation. Grimmelt concludes: “What I value most in the dual degree is the variety of skills taught. In particular, one learns to adapt to different academic and professional systems. I also really appreciate the exchange between French and German students. That has taught me a lot, both on an academic and a personal level.”

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Looking back at the 2021 SDG Certificate Leadership seminar 2/2

Testimony from a group of students working on Education in rural Colombia during COVID-19
  • © Osman Jimenez/Shutterstock© Osman Jimenez/Shutterstock

This year's SDG cohort began their program with the SDG Leadership Seminar, which took place from 19-22 January 2021. Student teams joined from all over the world, coming from the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, the Hertie School, Columbia SIPA, GraSPP University of Tokyo, and the LKY School National University of Singapore. Throughout the week, they participated in the SDG Innovation Lab and met with experts coming from different institutions including the OECD and the Agence Française de Développement. Below, one of our student groups selected from the School of Public Affairs shares their experience from the Leadership Seminar and their goals for the SDG Certificate.

Why did you decide to apply to the SDG Certificate and what do you hope to gain from the program 

By joining the School of Public Affairs for my Master’s Degree, I was looking for a project which would enable me to gain strong professional and practical skills. Also, I wanted to devote myself to a project which would be beneficial for my home region, Latin America, and which could answer some of the main structural problems it is facing, especially regarding wealth inequalities or lack of good quality primary education for many children still today. These two reasons which led me to apply to the SDG Certificate have allowed me to meet schoolmates, even though online, and to work all along the first semester on a primary phase of a socially innovating project. Eventually, we have come up with a project focusing on granting primary education to children living in the remote areas of Colombia through both radio and a tutor system based on teachers and basic phones. 

During the second semester, my team will have the chance to deepen and perfect our project through theoretical and practical workshops about SDGs. Moreover, it will be for us a great opportunity to pursue the international experience started during our exchange year, since we will be participating in seminars organized by the other schools of the Global Public Policy Network and to simultaneously work in cooperation with other students who are also part of the Certificate. 

Ana Sofia Torres, School of Public Affairs, Politics and Public Policy stream

What were some of the key highlights from the SDG Certificate Leadership Seminar in January? Key takeaways that you have learned?

I think that for our group, one of the key highlights of the seminar was definitely the chance we were given to exchange views on our project with other students who also work on education matters, but also to receive precious advice from experts and students who are working on a completely different subject and who brought us a radically new view on our project. 

From a more practical point of view, I think we all realized the complexity but also the importance of our project when doing the workshops, when conceptualizing, thinking and mapping our project. During these workshops, we really took the time to think deeply about our project and to lay solid foundations to pursue our project in the next months in the best conditions. The experts’ advice have also allowed us to better understand and evaluate our own work, by highlighting some obstacles we did not necessarily think about previously, like, for example, the ability of the colombian government to help us financially, and by underlying some of our misconceptions or biases we could have had. 

Eventually, we all left the seminar keeping in mind that we would definitely always need this critical approach and spirit surrounding our project to carry it out at its best. Overall, we are really looking forward to deepening our bonds and solidarity with other students from the SDG Certificate, with whom we are in contact almost daily to exchange ressources, ideas and advice about each other’s project.

Alex Sinicki, School of Public Affairs, Security and Defense stream

What inspired you to work on the topic that you chose for your project? And can you tell us about your initial project idea?

From the start we had a broad idea that we wanted to work in the area of education. At the first stages of the creation of our group itself, we had in mind that we wanted to focus on Latin America. One of the reasons being that there are two Colombians and one Honduran in the team. When we met with Thawben and Alex, we pitched our idea and they were very receptive of it which quickly gave us the chance to start working on the project itself instead of deciding where and what. This pandemic has manifested its effects in various stages and in Latin America even before the pandemic, education has always been a weak spot. The fact that this situation halted educational opportunities to the youngest in the region is probably going to be one of the biggest “blows” with the most devastating consequences in the long run. 

Our initial idea wasn’t that far from the one we developed in our final draft. We had in mind a remote learning tool and some of us thought of TV or even adding a little more technology to it. We had several discussions and debates around it but we finally decided that radio and a basic cell phone would do it. The key aspect we wanted to keep in mind was the accessibility of the tools and to pitch a project with a low budget so as to facilitate its implementation. 

Ana Catalina Espinoza, School of Public Affairs, Master in Politics and Public Policy

How did your different backgrounds contribute to the team and coming up with your project proposal? 

Our team is composed of 5 students from the School of Public Affairs. Three of us come from Latin America and two from France. Therefore, we have a pretty mixed team. From the Latin American students we have two Colombians who will be able to provide us a critical insight on the reality of the country and who have several contacts in the country. One of our students has worked directly for the Vice presidency, thus the contact with the public sector will be assured. The other is studying the Social Policy stream with special interest in education bringing a certain expertise on the subject of the country.

Another of our students comes from Honduras and has lived in Brazil while studying in the North American Campus of Sciences Po. This will allow us to have a complete perspective on the whole Latin American continent, North America, Central America and South America.

Additionally, one of our team members studied in the Sciences Po Campus of Menton focused on the Middle East and North Africa, while other of our students did an exchange on Waseda University in Japan specializing in international studies. This proves also how our team has close contact with different regions from the East, and how we will be able to learn from these experiences specially on what has been done in other non-western countries. This team really represents an international cultural, academic and professional experience, and our own specific profiles mixed together will definitely allow us to deal with this complex subject and increase the possibility of succeeding on Radio education in Colombia. 

Sebastian Cortes Moreno, School of Public Affairs, Social Policy Stream

What are you most looking forward to this semester for the SDG certificate ?

I am especially looking forward to deepening our research on the topic, until we reach - maybe from next year - an empirical application of the ideas that allowed us to be selected for this programm. The two weekly sessions with Professor Atlani-Duault and Professor Cottle will definitely be essential vectors of the enrichment of our project. Benefiting from both Professor Atlani-Duault’s professional and academic experience and Professor Cottle’s methodological and practical knowledge in implementing public policies, I believe we will definitely bring our project to its best shape, and this, without neglecting the essential practical and local aspects of our project essential based on the very rural areas of Colombia. I thus believe it will be more than possible for us, through those very complementing weekly sessions, to start a very good dynamic able to overcome the tricky distinction between theory and practice.

Moreover, I am really looking forward to assisting the monthly seminars hosted by the other schools. Even if they may not be directly targeted to our own subject like the weekly sessions do, they will definitely be the best places to interact and gain knowledge from the other participants and actors of the Global Public Policy Network. This will certainly give us the opportunity to deepen our bonds with brilliant students from all around the world and to build a strong network, which is also one of the key elements of this program. Also, I really believe that these seminars will dramatically help us on our project, given that despite some projects being similar, each participant has taken a very specific approach which could benefit the group as a whole. The different views on our project and looking at how other students targeted theirs, could help us to widen our perspective. Of course, I could not forget to mention the incredible chance we will be given to interact, in the weekly sessions and the monthly seminars, the role of the experts, who will definitely help us bring our project to the next step. And this is exactly what we are looking forward to during this semester: bringing our project to a step closer to reality.  

Thawben Berka, School of Public Affairs, Public Administration stream

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Looking back at the 2021 SDG Certificate Leadership seminar 1/2

Testimony from a group of students working on African migrant integration in China
  • © Bo1982/Shutterstock© Bo1982/Shutterstock

This year's SDG cohort began their program with the SDG Leadership Seminar, which took place from 19-22 January 2021. Student teams joined from all over the world, coming from the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, the Hertie School, Columbia SIPA, GraSPP University of Tokyo, and the LKY School National University of Singapore. Throughout the week, they participated in the SDG Innovation Lab and met with experts coming from different institutions including the OECD and the Agence Française de Développement. Below, one of our student groups selected from the School of Public Affairs shares their experience from the Leadership Seminar and their goals for the SDG Certificate.

Why did you decide to apply to the SDG Certificate and what do you hope to gain from the program?

Shuo: The main reason why I wanted to apply to the SDG Certificate is that it is a hard-won opportunity for us to link the theories we have learned with practical cases. It provides us with a chance to bring the theories to life, which means maximizing the value of the theory. Also, living in the historical background of globalization, it is crucial to pay attention to some universal values, like the SDGs for example. Because of those two reasons, namely, the willingness to bring theories into practice, and to fully understand the Sustainable Development Goals, I decided to join the SDG Certificate. Furthermore, this program is also composed of outstanding students from all over the world, so it will be a great chance for me to meet more friends and to share our different points of view together. 

What were some of the highlights from the SDG Certificate Leadership seminar in January? Key takeaways that you learned?

Tian:First, what strikes me the most is that we could talk to the project experts directly, and that they were willing to share their first-hand experience. Drawing on their advice, we could modify our project and view our project from a more practical and detailed perspective. Second, we have learned some key aspects of design thinking, allowing us to include specific tools that broadened our horizons so we could further utilize  stakeholder mappings, and other elements to enrich our project. Third, we were inspired by other teams’ projects as well. Although they have focused on different SDG goals, we shared some similarities which we could shed light on. For instance, we learned from the group from Columbia SIPA to take advantage of technology to achieve the SDG goals, which helped us to think out of the box. We think it is a wonderful opportunity to learn from others who come from different backgrounds, knowledge and experience. 

What inspired you to work on the topic that you chose for your project? And can you tell us about your initial project idea?

Zixin: Actually after the pandemic lockdown, we four chatted a lot online and talked about our opinions on social inequalities in our home country which have been exaggerated during COVID-19. Therefore, when it comes to developing our project, we decided unanimously and firmly to work on that together. Regarding the topic of the African community, we choose it because minority issues such as misunderstanding, exclusion, and discrimination are fueled by this public health emergency, while scientific evidence demonstrates the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities, partly because of their limited access to healthcare services. This happens, unfortunately, in Guangzhou, in China, in Asia, but also in every other corner across the world where minority communities exist. Because of this, we’d like to build up a solid model based on territorial characteristics, from a very micro perspective and hopefully be able to apply the solution to more generalized contexts. 

How did your different backgrounds contribute to the team and to allow you to come up with your project proposal? 

Group: Our team is diverse, focused and cooperative. We had several rounds of intensive brainstorming and and plans for the distribution of work. Coming from three different policy streams, each of us tries to bring our best to the project. Tian already had experience in project management from the FAO in 2019 to develop an SDG solution, in line with her policy stream of Social Policy and Social Innovation. She pays attention to the inequality of access to social welfare, which serves as a foundation for her taking part in the project. Shuo has several internship experiences concerning government relations and European Affairs. She has also participated in the SDG public affairs analysis competition and has experience in quantitative analysis. She focuses on quantitative analysis and the government-related affairs in the project. Zixin comes from a human science background and has a particular interest in research on various historical, societal, and cultural factors. She is passionate about international development projects, where she can apply her multilingual communication skills and knowledge of public policy. Yuhong majored in international relations during her undergraduate degree and had two previous internships in government departments and NGOs, allowing her to gain knowledge about analysis methods in the social science field. She is quite familiar with analyzing, designing and evaluating policy from the angle of participants.

What are you most looking forward to this semester for the SDG Certificate?

Yuhong: The SDG Certificate program provides us an opportunity to solve practical cases that exist in our society. By doing so, we can put the theories of policy analysis, designing and implementation learned from the courses into practice, and gain a deeper understanding of the topic. In addition, solving a social issue requires the consideration of various factors, including economic, social, environmental, public-private partnerships, and more. Compared with analyzing a certain topic from an economic aspect in my own stream, participating in the SDG Certificate program in a group with teammates from different research backgrounds (culture, international relations, social policy) can help us dive into public policy more comprehensively and have greater insight into the SDGs and today’s challenges.

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Thinking of applying to the School of Public Affairs?

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  • All you need to know about the School of Public AffairsAll you need to know about the School of Public Affairs

On Wednesday 13 January 2021, a student from the School of Public Affairs and Yann Algan, Dean of the School of Public Affairs answered questions from prospective students during a live interview.

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You were unable to attend our past Open House Day?

 > Read the recap of our Graduate Schools' 2020 Open House Day

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Public Administration: A historic and a cutting-edge discipline

  • Administration Publique © Matej Kastelic/ShutterstockAdministration Publique © Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

What is the Public Administration policy stream?

The Public Administration policy stream is the most renowned course option offered at the School of Public Affairs. That’s undoubtedly thanks to it being the oldest programme at Sciences Po – what fewer people realise, however, is that it is also one of the most modern!

Every year, the Public Administration stream attracts a huge number of students from immensely varied horizons. Naturally, some are these are keen to launch their careers within the public sector, while others are more interested in the private sector or institutional relations. Others still decide to go into national, European or international politics.

The stream equips its students with a base of fundamental, multidisciplinary knowledge in French and European public law, public finance, economics, social issues and all aspects of public affairs. This complements invaluable professional skills in management, negotiation, project management, public innovation and design thinking.

It is primarily designed for students who wish to enter the senior French and European civil service, either through competitive recruitment exams or by applying to contracted positions. At the School of Public Affairs, we offer preparatory classes for 14 recruitment exams. But the stream also provides excellent training for a host of other professions: public affairs departments in French or international businesses, consultancy firms, or even budding start-up creators! Did you know that more than half of students in this policy stream go on to work in the private sector?

Graduate School, Master’s programme, policy stream: let’s break it down…

The Public Administration stream is a course option for students on either of the two two-year Master’s programmes taught at the School of Public Affairs: the Master in Public Policy and the Master in European Affairs.

When they join the School of Public Affairs, students choose one of two Master’s programmes and one of 11 policy streams, including the Public Administration stream. Choosing this option gives students access to a range of stream-specific courses relating to the field of public administration. The structure and breadth of teaching at the School of Public Affairs means that students can personalise the curriculum right the way through their degree, adapting it to their own career plans. The further students progress in their chosen programme, the more opportunities they have to personalise their studies.

What does one learn on the Public Administration policy stream?

All students on the Public Administration policy stream take the five core courses attached to their chosen Master’s programme.

These are grounded in concrete case studies, which give students in-depth, comparative and interdisciplinary knowledge within the broader field of public affairs. They blend economic, legal, ethical, historical, political, managerial and digital perspectives. Students also conduct a deep dive into one particular case study. By immersing them in a complex problem-solving situation, this study gives them real-life insight into decision-making and policy implementation processes across different sectors (both public and private).

Students then take five courses relating to their own policy stream: Public Law, European Public Law, Public Finance, Economic Policy and, finally, Social Issues.

The School’s Policy Lab provides a collaborative space for students to examine case studies, participate in simulations and design and implement public policy projects within the Public Policy Incubator. This is a chance for them to develop the practical skills they will need in their careers: teamwork, negotiation, change management and leadership.

This core learning is enriched by three additional elective courses, which students choose from over a hundred options on offer each semester. Students on the Public Administration policy stream also take language classes and two courses from Sciences Po’s Common Academic Curriculum.

Every semester, as in all policy streams at the School of Public Affairs, students on the Public Administration pathway can also choose to attend additional optional classes to prepare them for competitive civil service recruitment exams.

These optional classes cover general knowledge, international affairs, European affairs and advanced economic issues.

Students spend their fourth and final semester completing either an end of degree internship, an academic exchange at one of Sciences Po’s partner universities, a personal project or a master's thesis.

They may also wish to take a gap year between the two years of their Master’s to complete an internship or academic exchange. The other opportunities available to them include an integrated apprenticeship in the second year, the chance to get involved with the public policy incubator, a packed calendar of events, a long list of student associations and Sciences Po’s vibrant student life.

All core and elective courses offered at the School of Public Affairs are designed to open students’ minds to contemporary challenges facing politicians, civil servants and stakeholders across public affairs:  deontology, digital transition, inclusive and sustainable policy, democratic challenges. These are just some of the issues to which our students are trained to respond.

What happens afterwards?

The career paths unlocked by the Public Administration policy stream are as varied as its course options. 58% of graduates from the Class of 2018 went on to work in the private sector, 39% entered the public sector and 3% joined international organisations.

The public sector route

A significant proportion of students aspiring to enter the senior civil service in France or Europe choose to sit competitive recruitment exams. The School of Public Affairs offers preparatory classes for 14 of these, including those for the ENA, the INET, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the French Parliament, the Banque de France and so on. It also offers preparatory classes for the EU’s own civil service recruitment exams.

Every year, some of our graduates go on to careers in politics, as parliamentary attachés, ministerial cabinet secretaries, local government employees etc. Their workplaces include ministries, parliaments and the European Commission.

The private sector route

The majority of our graduates from the Class of 2018 now work in the private sector. They are employed in the public affairs departments of French and international businesses, at leading consultancy firms or else in the non-profit sector, think tanks, start-ups and more.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Key figures of the Public administration policy stream (from the 2020 Graduate Employability Survey asked to the Class of 2018) :

  • 88% of graduates are employed less than 6 months after graduation
  • 58% in the private sector, 39% in the public sector and 3% in international organisations
  • Job opportunities by profession: Public sector consultants, Parliamentary attachés, Institutional relations officers, Hospital directors, French and European public administration officials, Public law and regulation advisors, Consultants to firms, Managers of cultural institutions, Central administration directors, Development analysts
  • A few major employers: Ministries, Parliaments, The European Commission, consulting firms (EY Consulting, Capgemini, Accenture, Mazars, BCG, KPMG, etc), Public affairs divisions of major companies, etc.

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Students launch their start up following their participation in the public policy incubator

YOU ARE JUST LAUNCHING YOUR START'UP, PUBLIC +, HOW DID YOUR PROJECT COME ABOUT AND COULD YOU TELL US IN A FEW WORDS WHAT IT IS ABOUT?

Our project was born from a challenge launched by the préfecture of Ille-et-Vilaine for the Sciences Po Public Policy Incubator in January 2020. The project consisted of shaping and developing an "innovative" France Services system for the town of Châtillon-en-Vendelais in Brittany. The France Services policy makes it possible to bring together within hosting structures (town halls, prefectures, etc.) various public services, through two administrative agents capable of responding to the majority of citizens' requests. It is a system introduced by the French President after the Great National Debate, which revealed that only 52% of French people have access to the public services they need. 

Public + was born to respond to this reality, creating an amplifier of public policies with the ambition of a public service that is more human, more innovative and more efficient. During the project, we developed a double-entry portal to expand France Services. "Mon Espace France Services" provides better access to user information and support for the day-to-day work of staff. 

IN CONCRETE TERMS, IF I AM A PUBLIC SERVICE USER, WHAT CAN THE PUBLIC + SOLUTION DO FOR ME? IF I AM A PUBLIC SERVICE AGENT, WHAT CAN THE PUBLIC + SOLUTION OFFER ME? 

For users, the Public + solution makes it possible to centralise information, personalise and modernise the public service. For example, thanks to a geolocation tool, I can access information from the nearest France Services. A simple appointment scheduling tool and an automatic document generator allow me to prepare my appointment in advance. Lastly, video-conferencing and the France Services evaluation form make it easier to access France Services from your living room and to continuously improve public services.

Through a survey conducted among 250+ France Services multi-skilled agents, they expressed their desire to have tools to provide better support, better organisation and better training. In order to give them the means to carry out their missions effectively, we provide them with an appointment management tool, and a generator of "administrative reports" (a pre-filled document summarising the key points of the appointment, given to the user). Agent training is at the heart of our solution. In order to compensate for the lack of training felt by many agents, we have integrated a continuous training path through the centralisation of technical data sheets, online training on cross-functional subjects, and fun quizzes to test and refresh their knowledge.

HOW DID THE COACHING YOU RECEIVED DURING THE PUBLIC POLICY INCUBATOR WORKSHOPS HELP YOU SET UP YOUR PROJECT?

Our start-up is based on innovation and it was at the Public Policy Incubator that we really learned how to innovate. First of all, the workshops allowed us to discover the methods of design thinking in order to elaborate user paths, create personas... These methods of reflection took us out of our "academic" framework by conceptualising our ideas in a visual, anticipatory and agile way, in order to allow the shaping of a relevant and functional project. Starting from the field, listening and creating synergies between the actors are the keys to the success of all of our projects. In a way, at the Public Policy Incubator we have learned how to become the engineers of tomorrow's public services. 

STUDENTS AND ENTREPRENEURS, HOW EASY IS IT TO MANAGE?

We see it rather as a strength. The knowledge accumulated during our studies allows us to integrate theoretical elements into a concrete practical case and enrich it with our experiences. The idea is to put our Sciences Po backgrounds at the service of everyday life for the French people. Moreover, our profiles are different, but they are united in the desire to think about and improve the public services of tomorrow. Public + is the project of 5 young people who want to serve the common good. But we're not going to lie to you, it helps to be 5 co-founders when several appointments follow one after the other and one of us has a public law presentation to finish! 

AT WHAT STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT ARE YOU AT AND WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DEVELOP?

Public + has now been set up and is in talks with various institutional players in order to launch an initial trial of our digital tool "Mon Espace France Services". In the short and medium term, we hope to roll out our digital portal nationwide to enable the France Services system to reach its full potential. We are also initiating a diversification of our activity beyond the scope of France Services in order to improve other public policies. Our digital portal can be useful for other public policies and we are ready to work with stakeholders in the field to enhance their public policies. 

We don't want to leave the “house” any time soon and we are considering integrating Public + into the Sciences Po incubator to help us achieve these goals.

WHAT VALUES IS YOUR PROJECT BASED ON?  

The whole project is based on the ambition to make Public + service more human, more innovative and more efficient. To achieve this, we have committed ourselves to 11 points in a manifesto that guides all our decisions and helps us guarantee our freedom to innovate. We believe that innovation in the public sector is a result of this commitment, which has always created a relationship of trust with all our partners. This backbone will be the guarantee of our success as a full-fledged player within the ecosystem of public innovation.  

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Looking back at the Masterclass with Aloïse Sauvage

  • Aloïse Sauvage © Shelby DuncanAloïse Sauvage © Shelby Duncan

Last October, we welcomed Aloïse Sauvage in the framework of the Masterclasses of the Culture/Cultural Policy & Management stream. The students of this stream as well as other School of Public Affairs students had the chance to listen to the testimonial of the artist who excels in many fields. A few selected students had the opportunity to ask Aloïse Sauvage about her work as an artist, shaken by the health crisis, and wrote the article that follows. 

On 14 October 2020, within the framework of the Masterclasses of the School of Public Affairs specialising in Culture and Cultural Policy & Management, we had the opportunity to meet the artist and singer Aloïse Sauvage, accompanied by one of her two managers, Elodie Filleul. This was a real opportunity for the students of the policy stream to engage in a direct dialogue with the actors and creators of the music industry in 2020. 

Because of the health restrictions, Aloïse Sauvage told us about her career path and her rich experience in artistic circles from her kitchen, via Zoom. Indeed, the 28-year-old circus-trained singer and dancer has already appeared on the small and big screen and has released an album, Dévorantes. With multiple strings to her bow, Aloïse Sauvage is a complete artist who yet shows great humility about her success. She talked to us with enthusiasm about her artistic approach, her commitments, but also about the difficulties of artistic emancipation in the complex environment that is the music industry. Elodie Filleul, her co-manager (together with Melissa Phulpin), joined us in this round table to shed light on the "management" aspect of the creative process. She has been active for more than twenty years in the music industry and has worked with major labels while maintaining her independence, which is an important aspect for Aloïse Sauvage. Her experience also allowed us to talk about the profound transformations that the music industry has gone through, especially in the digital era.

We then discovered an artist whose music reflects a great vulnerability and who fully assumes it, even if this implies a counterbalance to the trends within the music industry. When the means of promotion, distribution and even production are becoming digital, our two speakers also expressed the need for proximity with the teams that surround the artists. This is especially important for a multidisciplinary artist, who asserts herself through both singing and rap but also through her body. She talked about her famous "magic microphone" which allows her to mix different disciplines on stage, especially circus and dance. 

The album Dévorantes talks about codes, norms, and stereotypes as well as the labelling that this new generation of musicians, including Aloïse Sauvage, is trying to break down. However, Aloïse does not present herself as an activist when she makes music, she shows what she is, without codifying or classifying herself. It is by assuming and asserting this freedom that she considers her art to become an emancipatory vector with a real societal impact.

Aloïse Sauvage lends herself perfectly to the exercise of presenting the daily life of a contemporary music artist, especially during the carte blanche of the School of Public Affairs students. She discussed new forms of the creative process (toplines, definition of musical genre, writing ...), as well as modern issues for an artist in the music industry. She discussed frankly the difficulties involved in signing with a major label, but also the complex relationship she has with the promotional system, addressing the question of interpretation and the sometimes irrelevant journalistic appropriation of her work. With simplicity and casualness, Aloïse Sauvage and Elodie Filleul enabled the participants of the Masterclass to understand the current issues facing contemporary music artists who are far removed from the process of creation, production and exploitation.

Article written by Amor Belhiba, Chama Squalli & Anais Velle.

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Gesine Weber, class of 2019

Program assistant at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, graduated from the dual degree Sciences Po Master European Affairs, Europe in the World / Freie Universität (Berlin)
  • Gesine Weber © GWGesine Weber © GW

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?

I have always been passionate about international politics and Europe. After three months in China following my high school graduation, a year of law studies and completing a French-German bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Freiburg and the IEP Aix-en-Provence, I wanted to focus my studies on European affairs and international relations without having to choose between these two disciplines. The Master in European Affairs at the School of Public Affairs was therefore almost a natural next step for me: thanks to the policy stream “Europe in the World” in partnership with PSIA and the dual degree between SciencesPo and Freie Universität Berlin, I could specialise in the field of European external relations and security while strengthening my French-German profile. 

From the very beginning of my studies, it was very important to me to complement my academic pathway with professional experiences. This is why I interned at the political affairs department of the German embassy in Paris during my Bachelor, and completed several other internships during my Master, for instance at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN in Geneva, the German Federal Press and Information Office in Berlin and at the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Kosovo. When I was writing my master's thesis at Freie Universität Berlin during the last semester of my studies, I also worked as a policy advisor in security and defence policy with a deputy at the German federal parliament. Although I could have continued to work in this function, I decided to take the unique opportunity of participating in a scholarship programme promoting expertise on China among outstanding young graduates, which is funded by the German government. After ten months of Chinese language classes and an interdisciplinary career-building programme, I worked as a consultant for Chinese geopolitics and domestic politics for the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Berlin and Shanghai and then joined the German Marshall Fund of the United states, a transatlantic think tank, in Paris as a Program Assistant. At the same time, I just started my PhD thesis on European security and defence cooperation at King’s College London. 

WHAT WERE THE MAIN STAGES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL PROJECT?

I grew up in a very rural region in Germany, but I have already considered myself a convinced European in high school and always dreamed of an international career - and my first long stay abroad in China, during which I contributed to several German-Chinese projects, confirmed this aspiration. A decisive stage was for sure enrolling for French-German academic programmes from the beginning of my Bachelor because this allowed me to internationalise my personal profile. Moreover, my previous internships were highly enriching experiences for me as they conformed my interest for a career in the public sector and made me become aware of the diversity of opportunities in this sector. At the beginning of my studies, I was completely convinced that I wanted to become a diplomat right after obtaining my degree, and this remains a highly attractive option for me on the long-term. However, I also realised that I highly appreciate the level of intellectual stimulation of working in a think tank thanks to the combination of a hand-on mentality for project management and in-depth research for publications and studies. Therefore, I decided that I want to start my career in the think tank universe. 

HOW WAS THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS AT THE GERMAN MARSHALL FUND OF THE UNITED STATES?

After finding the job offer on the career’s website of SciencesPo, I sent my CV and a cover letter to the GMF Office in Paris. During my first interview, the program coordinator and the office manager explained the thematic focus of the office and the working methods to me, which boosted my motivation for this job even more. The second interview with the director and the deputy director confirmed this impression - and that is why I accepted the job offer without hesitation.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR POSITION TODAY?  

As a Program Assistant, I am involved in both project management and research activities; consequently, the variety of tasks requires efficient multi-tasking and identifying priorities. Having joined the office in September during the COVID-19 pandemics, my daily work relies heavily on the use of digital tools because the projects that we are managing have, as in many other sector, been digitalised. Concretely, this means that I am organising virtual meetings and seminars with the other members of the team, which includes classical planning processes, inviting participants, preparing the agenda and the logistical setup. In addition to this work, which mostly requires organisational skills, I am also in charge of analysing current political events or conducting in-depth research, for instance for compiling background research for other members of the office or preparing publications. Another important aspect is the cooperation with our other international offices, as GMF is a truly transatlantic think tank committed to strengthening transatlantic cooperation and aiming at promoting respective knowledge in France and Europe, but also in Washington. An important characteristic of my daily work is that it is completely bilingual - that is something I personally enjoy enormously. 

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF YOUR ACADEMIC BACKGROUND AT THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS TO THE POSITION YOU HOLD TODAY? 

I benefit in many different ways from my academic background at the School of Public Affairs. First of all, the knowledge I acquired during my studies is very important for my daily work because especially my tasks relating to policy analysis and research require a good understanding of EU security and defence policy, French foreign policy and international relations in broader terms. With regard to the classes I took at the School of Public Affairs, especially the class in Culture Générale is a clear asset for my work. This class, which was probably the most challenging of my entire academic path, has allowed me to develop a better understanding of complex global and European challenges by assessing them from a broader perspective; for me as a German, understanding the French approach of reflecting on these challenges is very helpful. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary education at the School of Public Affairs has definitely contributed to my ability to quickly grasp new topics outside my domaine of expertise, which facilitates my daily work enormously. The same applies with regard to the methodological approach of the School of Public Affairs, as the different forms of the assignments - from classical research tasks to policy-oriented policy briefs - made me familiar with different formats of writing and publishing. Lastly, I highly appreciated the possibility to follow classes in English and French at the School of Public Affairs, so that both have become natural working languages for me - and personally, I really enjoy working in this bilingual context. 

 

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Tips for succeeding in european competitive exams

How to start a career in the EU: the EPSO admission procedure
  • EPSO © Encierro/ShutterstockEPSO © Encierro/Shutterstock

“Has working for the European institutions always been your dream? Are you interested in discovering more about how the EU officials are selected, which profiles are more requested and what it means to work for the European Union?” More than 800 people answered “yes” and 200 of them joined the online conference on Zoom “How to start a career in the EU: the EPSO admission procedure” organised on Tuesday November 10, 2020 by the Association of the School of Public Affaires of Sciences Po Paris (AEAP). 

The guest speakers were a great example of some future careers that the students would like to reach: Professors Luis-Planas Herrera, policy assistant to the Directorate General on Environment (DG ENV), Pierpaolo Settembri (DG MOVE for mobility and transport), Polina Khomenko (WTO policy and negotiations officer at the EU Commission) and Laure Baillargeon (policy officer at DG GROW for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and small enterprises). Together with Andras Baneth, strategic communication and public affairs expert, author of the book “The Ultimate EU test book” – a guide to EU exams -, the participants had the possibility to exchange on the EPSO and how the procedure of selection to the European institutions work. 

What does it mean to work for the EU institutions?

Luis Planas-Herrera (LPH): In a nutshell: a challenging job in an international environment. No risk to get bored with the same task over your whole career at all: the level of internal mobility is very high and since you have to remain constantly trained, you are offered continuous formation. However this doesn’t erase the difficulties of moving to Brussels, change your life and conciliate family and work, therefore great attention is put on well-being activities and life-work balance. 

Where to start?

Andras Banath (AB): First of all you have to decide whether you want to work for or with the institutions. In the first case, the procedure is the EPSO one (even though some Agencies have their own exam to pass). On the other side, if you’d like to focus on an external entity operating around the institutions, then you have to convince the employer with your CV and an interview. There are different career options in this case, amongst them the national diplomatic services based in Brussels, or working as a MEP assistant, or in an advocacy group within the EU organs. 

LPH: Regarding the admission to the European institutions, you’ll have to start from the EPSO website, that provides all information on vacancies, competition deadlines and inscription modalities, and the profiles needed. On a regular yearly basis some positions are opened and after the notice of competition, the phase of pre-selection starts. 

AB: The real obstacle is time and organisation: you have to understand the process and the method of evaluation. This is why preparing in advance is fundamental. And studying with some colleagues, too! Not just because you could exchange on the different points of view on the same topic, but also because it can be particularly stressful: the whole process lasts between 8 and 10 months, therefore caring for your mental balance is fundamental. 

Let’s say that I passed the first step, the pre-selection phase. What now?

LPH: After the computer-based test of the pre-selection, that will focus on verbal, analytical and abstract thinking, you will have an intermediate test in the second language that you indicated in the precedent phase: a fundamental requirement to work in the EU is in fact to know at least 2 European languages other than your mother tongue. Afterwards an assessment test based in Brussels or Luxemburg will be organised. This last step will be more specific: it will check your communication skills, you problem-solving ability, your public speaking capabilities and many other particular abilities. 

But then, it will be impossible to pass it! There will be a lot of people, much more prepared than me… 

AB: Not true, since there is no rule for the minimum (and even maximum) age when to do it! First of all, remember that the pre-selection is free of cost and there are no limits on how many times you can repeat it. Therefore you will find a big crowd of people trying to pass it, but don’t get too scared. 

Laure Baillargeon (LB): I must admit I saw a true “evolvement” of the test starting from the year in which I took it, in 2007, until today. It’s true, it has become stricter, nevertheless this means that when you pass it, then you’re sure you are exactly the right person for that job, and that you will find yourself at your ease in the institutions because your forma mentis is the appropriate one. The competences examined in the last stage are not chosen by chance: they really reflect what the employers look for in a candidate. This is why in Sciences Po we offer a course that focuses on that part of the evaluation. 

Pierpaolo Settembri (PS): The EU needs people prepared, like you are. As I entered the institutions it was a brand new world, everything had to start from scratch. On the contrary now, the EU has enlarged its power and its competences and therefore much more specialised people are demanded. Everybody will request a lot from you – not only in your office but also at the public opinion level! 

If I got it right: the sooner I try the test, the better!

PS: The EU offers plenty of concrete advantages – like social securities and internal mobility – but on the other side I have to admit that it is quite a rigid career, in the sense that once in, it’s hard to move out and find another job in a completely different field. Therefore my answer to this question is a nuanced one: it’s a long process so once you’re sure of your choice, then start. But if you want to try something different before, then the right time to do it is before trying the test. It will take you a lot of time and energy, better not to waste them!

Polina Khomenko (PK):  And we all absolutely recommend you to do an internship before! We had many interns which then had the opportunity to remain, or that on the other side understood that it was not their field. Moreover, the competences that you develop as an intern will be very close to what you will be asked for in the assessment centre in Brussels. 

In a nutshell: is it worth it to work for the EU institutions? 

LB: As I said I did the test in 2007. It’s been 13 years that I am in the Commission, even in the same DG. Am I happy with it? More than happy: it gets better every day. 

Interview conducted by Silvia Panini, student of the Master in European Affairs at the School of Public Affairs, representative of the Europe in the World policy stream in the AEAP

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Dual Degree GPPN Project made it to the semi-finals of the Geneva Challenge!

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

A group of Canadian dual-degree students at Sciences Po’s School of Public Affairs and the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy placed in the semi-finals of the 2020 Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students at the Geneva Institute. The international competition for Master students aims to present innovative and pragmatic solutions to address the challenges of social inclusion. Alessandra Cicci, Amelie Fabian, Jad El Tal and Sharika Khan’s policy proposal, “Project GAIN: Greenhouse Advancement In Nunavut”, focuses on reducing food insecurity in Northern Canada through the development of sustainable year-round greenhouse infrastructure. 

Summary of Greenhouse Advancement in Nunavut (GAIN):

Grocery shopping in Canada’s largest territory, Nunavut, is a significant financial burden to its population, which is predominantly Indigenous. Compounded with its low quality, consumer acceptability, and preferences, access to food is vastly limited in this fly-in territory. As a result, Nunavut’s level of food insecurity is three times more than the national average of 17.7%; more than 57% of the population is food insecure, and roughly 3 out of 4 kids go to bed hungry. Geographical isolation, climate change, high costs of importing nutritious food, as well as the long-lasting effects of colonial policies on Indigenous peoples’ way of life have led Nunavut to this breaking point. 

Our project, GAIN: Greenhouse Advancement in Nunavut, aims to reduce food insecurity in Nunavut by tackling the aforementioned issues through a community-driven business model that develops sustainable greenhouse infrastructure with Indigenous communities at the helm. GAIN seeks to provide greater access to affordable, healthy and nutritious foods that can be integrated into Indigenous dietary food culture. It aims to not only reduce food insecurity, but to also invest in the communities in Nunavut with the vision of creating jobs, empowering communities to be self-sufficient, and fostering social inclusion. 

What inspired you to work on the topic that you chose for your project? 

We considered a number of social inclusion issues, but felt that it was important to bring to light a pertinent issue in Canada. One of our group members, Alessandra, had always thought about food insecurity as a major societal issue. As a child, Alessandra would help pack lunches for her mother’s students as many of them lived in food insecure households and didn’t have access to three meals a day. Furthermore, we were all shocked to find out that the food insecurity rate in Nunavut is three times higher than the national average. We fear that this rate has been accepted by governments and the media as the status quo due to centuries of colonialism and disenfranchisement against Indigenous peoples. But, in a high income and democratic country like Canada, no child should go to sleep hungry. This is why it was important for us to put forth a policy that aims to reduce this inequality.

How did your different backgrounds contribute to the team and coming up with your own policy innovation? (feel free to include your different academic/professional experiences here and your current interests/policy streams, etc.)

Amelie leveraged her background in Accounting and Finance to conduct the financial analysis and financial feasibility of the policy proposal. One of the most recurring questions that policymakers face is how they intend to finance new policy proposals. Therefore, we visualized the project from beginning to end, its logistical and technical needs and what the financial implications of it all would be.

Having previously worked with the City of Toronto’s Environment & Energy division as well as an environmental NGO, Sharika leveraged her knowledge in environmental policy to consider the externalities of GAIN. In formulating a policy solution that involves the development of greenhouse infrastructure, it was important to address environmental externalities in order to minimize social costs.

Working in public affairs before beginning graduate studies, Alessandra had learned about NGOs and private companies that were active in helping to reduce food insecurity, particularly for youth in all parts of Canada. Having knowledge of organizations and private entities helped us develop a thorough understanding of the other actors working in this space. 

Jad brought in his policy experience from working in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario before starting his masters. Knowing how legislation and intergovernmental relations operate in Canada is crucial when it comes to cross cutting policies like GAIN because of the delegated responsibilities that different levels of government have. 

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? 

One of our main challenges was that we lacked an Indigenous perspective as none of us had ever been to Nunavut. To mitigate this lived experience gap, we conducted extensive research, cost-benefit analyses, faculty consultations etc. Still, we were conscious that this is inadequate as it is important to consult with the community who will be impacted by the proposed policy. Moreover, taking into account the sensitive relation between the Canadian Government and its Indigenous communities, we were mindful of not being perceived as paternalistic. Therefore, we reached out to Indigenous Services Canada and conducted stakeholder relations to receive feedback and constructive criticism of our thought process.  

How did opportunities like the GPPN Conference and the Geneva Challenge help push your project forward? 

GPPN gave us the chance to work together on a policy issue that we care about in our home country. Although we were unfortunately not able to participate in the 2020 GPPN Conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were still able to engage with stakeholders in the lead up to the conference. For example, a few days before the conference, we pitched GAIN to the Canadian embassy staff in Paris, and received excellent constructive advice on how to further enhance our policy. In the subsequent months, we applied that advice in our proposal for the Geneva Challenge, and ultimately placed as semi-finalists. 

What advice would you give to future students interested in these types of opportunities?

There are a number of resources on campus that allow students to apply what they have learned in their studies. We would tell future students to take advantage of the opportunities Sciences Po provides and utilize the broader university network which includes fellow students, professors, and alumni. School can pick up quickly and it’s easy to miss out on participating in these unique opportunities, make it a goal to have a one-on-one discussion with professors, academic advisors and other SciencesPo faculty to learn more about ways to apply your knowledge outside of the classroom and engage in professional development.

Do you plan to continue working on this policy innovation and what are the next steps you see ahead? 

We intend to continue working on this innovative policy. Food insecurity in Nunavut is still extremely prevalent and has now been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we are back in Canada, we have greater access to contacts and resources that will be useful in further developing our policy proposal. Going forward, we plan to connect with and gain insight from experts, professors, policymakers, and community members in Nunavut. We also plan to reach out to PROOF, a research program based at the University of Toronto that works towards finding policy solutions to reduce household food insecurity in Canada. Our aim is to further refine and build our policy so that it can be implemented to effectively reduce food insecurity in Nunavut.

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Louis Holt, class of 2020

Graduated from the Master in Public Affairs (one-year Master)
  • Louis Holt © LHLouis Holt © LH

Can you describe your academic and professional background before the Master in Public Affairs (MPA)? 

I spent five years working for the British Government on various different strands of digital policy. For the two years before I began the MPA I was the Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and was fortunate enough to advise four different Cabinet Ministers on all aspects of the UK's digital and tech policy agenda. As any prospective MPA students and fellow policy junkies will know, it was a really fascinating time to work at the centre of the UK Government, and great to see the global importance of tech policy grow so quickly in such a short space of time. 

In terms of my academic background, I had a Bachelor's degree in Geography, but the MPA was my first Master's. 

You graduated last spring. What is your current professional situation? What are its main features?    

Unfortunately my original plan to do some travelling and explore many different career options didn't quite go to plan thanks to a certain virus! 

I am now back working for the UK Government, but from my apartment in Paris. I was able to get a promotion and am now leading the UK's Gigabit Broadband and Mobile policy teams, making sure all corners of the country have access to next-generation communications infrastructure - certainly more important now so many people are working and studying online! 

I would also add that many of my fellow students have also succeeded in securing fascinating new roles, whether for international organisations such as the OECD, global tech companies or consultancies. Some have even managed to work in French despite arriving with only a basic understanding of the language! 

What were the contributions of your training to the function that you hold today?   

I don't think it's an overstatement to say I feel the benefit of my studies almost every day. My current job involves working very closely with analysts and economists and being able to speak their language has massively helped me to interrogate complex policy problems. My current role is my first experience of full team leadership so having learnt organisational design techniques and how best to motivate public sector employees has been really useful.

I was taught to write better by professional journalists and how to use psychological techniques and Randomised Controlled Trials to improve and evaluate policies, as well as new working methods such as design thinking and Scrum. All of this sets me apart from my peers at work and has empowered me to be a much better policymaker.

Why would you recommend the MPA to other young professionals? 

The course content in itself is fascinating and the curriculum is very modern. There's lots of scope for personalisation so I ended up doing some modules on Populism and others on how Artificial Intelligence is affecting the art world. The lecturers at Sciences Po are almost all guest lecturers so they all have really interesting backgrounds and are happy to share advice and guidance on career matters. I was taught entrepreneurship by the president of Olympique Marseilles, and others in my cohort secured internships through their teachers. 

Beyond that, you have access to the full range of talks and events taking place at Sciences Po. There are always really interesting speakers visiting and you often get the chance to interact with them - I ended up having a beer with Alexis Tsipras for example! 

I also really enjoyed the experience of moving to Paris. I've lived in London almost all of my life and so experiencing a new city and language was amazing. I really enjoyed discovering new spots all over town and there's a reason I'm still living here. If I'm honest, the bread alone is a reason to come! 

Above all though, the best thing about the MPA is the cohort of students you study with. I'm absolutely certain that I've made friends for life, and being able to spend a year studying in the company of such fascinating people is such a treat. When I started the MPA it felt like the only issue in the world was Brexit, but meeting fellow students from Chile and Lebanon really put this into perspective. In my class were army captains, civil engineers and a future president of Kenya, to name just a few. Even though the course is only a year, I've made memories that will last a lifetime, and every time I get the chance to reflect on it, my only regret is that the course didn't last longer. 

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Alice Voirand, class of 2020

Recently graduated from the Master in Public Policy, policy stream Sécurité et Défense. Her commitment to women's health
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

A recent graduate of the Master in Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs, Alice Voirand has just earned the Advanced Certification in Gender Studies, which attests to her multidisciplinary training in gender studies. Below, she recounts her academic, professional and associative commitments to women's health.

HOW DID YOUR INTEREST IN GENDER STUDIES COME ABOUT?

I grew up in a rather masculine environment, with two older brothers whom I looked at as my role models. I spent my childhood wanting to assert myself and take my place alongside them, but I was guided by strong female figures, in particular the character of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter. When I started high school, I discovered sociology. I understood that boys and girls were socialised differently, that the image of women reflected by society was not the same as that of men, and I understood that in today's society we don't have the same opportunities. So I wanted to speak out against this and the biases that I was able to internalise, which still push me today to always want to prove my worth.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AT SCIENCES PO?

I took several courses in gender studies at Sciences Po, taught in particular by Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, Réjane Sénac and Marta Domínguez Folgueras. These courses have enabled me to clarify my professional project. It is through these classes and personal commitments that I understood the importance of the fight for gender equality and the need to defend these values in my work.

During my gap year, I attended the French Navy's Higher Military Preparation for the General Staff, from which I graduated second in my class of 120. It was important for me to assert myself and go beyond my limits in a very masculine environment. Now that I am an officer, my project is to find a reserves’ contract linked to gender issues, gender equality and the fight against discrimination within the armed forces.

Today, my interest in gender studies is nurtured through reading feminist books and listening to podcasts. This allows me to learn more and more, to mature and build my arguments in order to be able to defend women's rights without self-censoring.

YOU DID YOUR END-OF-MASTER’S INTERNSHIP IN A FRENCH MENSTRUAL UNDERWEAR COMPANY. WHAT WERE YOUR MISSIONS?

FEMPO is the leading French menstrual underwear brand. I discovered the company at the beginning of 2019 and fell in love with it! Firstly for the underwear, which revolutionised my periods by allowing me to live through this period much more comfortably while protecting my health and the planet, but also for the overall project - helping women to re-appropriate their bodies - and for the website, which makes you want to go beyond your limits, to assert yourself. It was during my gap year, and I was questioning my prospects a lot. I felt more and more the need to commit myself to a cause that is really close to my heart, and to have an impact. And nothing is more important to me than improving the status of women in their lives and at work. So I immediately turned to FEMPO for my end of Master’s internship!

From January to June 2020, I was a marketing trainee and partnership manager in the field of health and education. I organised events to raise awareness of the brand, make menstruation a visible topic and to raise awareness on women's health. I also managed partnerships with humanitarian associations, through monthly donations of underwear. I also created opportunities for health professionals, offering them the possibility to test the underwear and raise awareness among their patients. Finally, I co-created and hosted the FEMPO podcast, which aims to inform and raise awareness among women so that they can better understand their body while breaking the taboo of menstruation.

CAN YOU TELL US MORE?

Before creating the FEMPO menstrual underwear, Claudette and Fanny, the creators of the brand, conducted a survey of 3000 women and realised that there was a profound lack of understanding about menstruation and women's health, and above all a huge desire for knowledge: women know little about menstruation and sometimes get false information, which can be detrimental to their health. It is therefore essential to speak freely about this subject and to inform women without taboos! They therefore decided to create an online exchange and information space to help women better understand their bodies. It started with the FEMPO blog, where we receive a lot of questions on subjects related to women's health, which we answer by writing articles.

In addition to the blog, we decided to create the FEMPO podcast during the lockdown, together with my colleague Nina. The podcast is dedicated to women's health, with short informative episodes and longer episodes including interviews with health professionals or associations. Nina and I are both passionate about women's health and want to do everything we can to help women regain control of their bodies and their biology. We have produced around fifteen episodes, eight of which were with health professionals, and we benefit from around 2,000 listeners per episode. It was a really exciting experience!

YOU CHOSE TO ADDRESS THE TABOO OF MENSTRUATION AND MENSTRUAL PRECARIOUSNESS IN YOUR GRAND ECRIT. WHY THIS SUBJECT?

In popular beliefs and myths, menstruation has often been associated with impurity and claimed to be harmful. This has given rise to a deep taboo that isolates women and excludes them from certain economic and social activities. Even today, menstruation is often associated with disgust and shame; it can be a difficult stage in the development of young girls. Several issues related to menstruation have recently surfaced in the public debate, but the subject has never been addressed in its entirety. However, menstruation contains a variety of issues and needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. For my Grand écrit, I therefore analysed the extent to which education and awareness raising on women's health can break the taboo of menstruation while combating menstrual precariousness. I addressed the taboo of menstruation, its consequences and the information and health monitoring measures that could be put in place to remedy it.

I also looked at menstrual precariousness, a considerable public health problem, which is partly due to the taboo of menstruation. It is the difficulty or lack of access to hygienic protection, due to poverty, lack of information, or rarity. According to the association Règles élémentaires, 1.7 million women are concerned in France, with three main categories of victims: women in extremely precarious situations, women in places of deprivation of liberty, and poor female students. This issue must be dealt with on a national scale: policy makers are beginning to take hold of the subject, with several parliamentary reports, and experiments that are going to be set up, including free protection in certain key places - prisons, schools, social care institutions, etc. - but also distributors allowing women to acquire protection through a bank card or a prepaid card, and support for associations helping precarious and homeless women.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

I'm following up my end-of-study internship with a one-year contract at FEMPO! I am in charge of marketing and partnerships. I'm staying in the same team, on the same missions as during my internship. And I am now in charge of the editorial section of FEMPO. I am optimising the blog and writing new articles to provide the best possible information on women's health. The aim is to enable women to renew a more positive link with their bodies, their biology, their cycle, to help them assert themselves! I will also be able to participate again in conferences with health professionals, and festivals organised by associations, to present FEMPO and the benefits of menstrual underwear.

At the start of the new school year, I will also become a volunteer for Règles élémentaires, the first French association for the fight against menstrual precariousness. I want to make a personal commitment to help women who can't afford it to get enough sanitary protection to live decently during their period. The right to menstrual health is a human right that should be guaranteed for all! So I intend to give my time and energy, outside FEMPO, to improve the situation.

Article initially published on the website of the Research and educational programme on gender studies (Presage)

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Salomé Berlioux, class of 2014

Founder of Chemins d'avenir, graduated from the Master in Public Policy (formerly Public Affairs)
  • Salomé Berlioux © Thomas ArrivéSalomé Berlioux © Thomas Arrivé

A native of the Allier region (centre of France), Salomé Berlioux fought a long battle against self-censorship before graduating from the School of Public Affairs at Sciences Po. In 2016, she began the fight on a large scale by founding the Chemins d'Avenirs association, which today helps 1,000 young people from rural areas and small towns to overcome the obstacles hindering their ambitions. Interview with a determined alumna.

You come from a rural area, far away from the elitist sectors and the codes that go with them? What was your educational background? 

Salomé Berlioux: I grew up in the Allier region and took my baccalaureate in Nevers, in the Nièvre region. At the time, my philosophy teacher advised me to only aim for preparatory classes in Clermont-Ferrand or Dijon. I was very attached to Allier, but I also wanted to discover other horizons. I applied to Paris. I was lucky enough to join a literary preparatory class at the Fénelon high school. I studied literature for five years, including the master's degree De la Renaissance aux Lumières ("From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment") offered by Ecole Normale Supérieure and Sorbonne University. It was later, thanks to Sciences Po, that I understood that I could open myself up to many other paths.

How did you discover Sciences Po? 

Salomé Berlioux: I heard about it a few weeks before the baccalaureate, far too late to prepare myself, even though I was immediately attracted to the school. A few years later, eligible for the master's degree, I missed the oral admission exam. It must be said that I had absolutely no mastery of the codes that allowed me to shine there. I took my chance and finally entered the School of Public Affairs. Sciences Po is a school to which I owe a lot: I finally felt that the doors were opening to a future that was less determined by my geographical origins. I lived with my grandparents and, as a scholarship student, I paid no tuition fees: nothing would have been possible without it. 

When and how did you become interested in young people in rural areas and the obstacles they face? 

Salomé Berlioux: During my studies, I taught high school students who also wanted to join Sciences Po. Year after year, it became clear to me that young people from rural areas worked just as hard as others, but failed more often than their urban peers. This was the case at Sciences Po, but also, more broadly, in other selective fields of study. My individual case had a collective resonance. It must be said that 23% of under 20 year olds grow up in rural areas, and 42% in small towns, for example, Moulins, Verdun, Charleville-Mézières... The majority of these young people are full of potential, but face many obstacles and for a long time were left out of public policies. 

In 2016, you founded the association "Chemins d'Avenirs" to help young people in rural areas break down these obstacles. The association now has 12 employees and supports a thousand young people throughout France. What is the originality of your action? 

Salomé Berlioux: Since the public authorities did not offer any specific schemes for young people living far from large cities, it was up to civil society to take action! We were the first organisation to support young people in rural areas, regardless of their school results and whatever their ambitions: whether they wanted to become a diplomat, a craftsman, an engineer or a farmer. The imperative is not to send them all to Grandes Ecoles, but to allow them to be free to realise their potential. Today, this is far from being the case. These young people are often constrained to stay home for economic or psychological reasons, with fewer cultural, academic or professional opportunities close to home and fewer "role models" to identify with. Their range of possibilities is reduced, from the outset, whereas their geographical origins could represent a real asset. Our mission is to accompany them to achieve their career goals, but also, on a larger scale, to forge links between territories, generations and professions, for the benefit of national cohesion.

Testimonials of participants in Chemins d'Avenirs (in French):

Who do you work with and how? 

Salomé Berlioux: We cater to all profiles, from junior high school through high school. The only criterion for joining the association is to be motivated. In fact, the majority of the young people who apply to join us are students with an average age of between 8 and 13, whom nobody seems to bet on... and yet they can go very far, in addition to students who have dropped out of school or, on the contrary, who are excellent students. The association meticulously tackles the chain of obstacles that limits their aspirations, by fighting against the lack of information and self-censorship bias, but also by proposing concrete solutions in the field. Together with the Ministry of National Education and our private partners, we have thus built a method of self-knowledge for our mentees. Sponsorship is another pillar of our action, based on the mentoring model which has proved its worth in other areas. We also offer themed training courses for young people and additional opportunities for our beneficiaries (internships, scholarships, empowerment workshops, meetings with professionals). Our aim is not to reinvent everything, but to build an ecosystem of success. We rely above all on common sense and pragmatism, measuring our impact every year using qualitative and quantitative indicators of success.

Do you have examples of simple actions that open up possibilities?

Salomé Berlioux: Let's take the example of the admission oral exams. In this area, information is the lifeblood. All you have to do is explain to young people in rural areas how these oral exams work, and what they are expected to do. It's obvious, these pupils are no less intelligent than the others! But if they are not given the keys, they remain passive during these interviews. We help candidates from isolated territories to become proactive during their oral examinations. We help them to get internships and to have associative commitments that will say a lot about their personality. But in my opinion, we need to go further, by making the territorial criterion part of the social opening approach of the Grandes Ecoles and selective courses. Similarly, companies would benefit from changing their definition of diversity by integrating the territorial dimension. 

Where is the association today and what are your objectives for the future? 

Salomé Berlioux: Today the association supports 1,000 young people, with 1,000 mentors throughout the territory and local and national partnerships. We are now going to intensify the work in our 8 partner academies before continuing our growth and also increase our economic independence. At the same time, we are stepping up our advocacy work. By 2023, Chemins d'Avenirs will have individually accompanied 3,000 young people. Internally, the question is that of our systemic impact and the levers of transformation that we can use. But it is also up to policy makers to take up the issue, in order to reach the young people concerned on a massive scale. We need to move up a gear. I am hopeful.

Do you have any suggestions for more effective public policies in this area? 

Salomé Berlioux: With the associations of the Collectif Mentorat, we have been working for almost a year to ensure that our combined experiences lead to a national mentoring programme, supported by the state. Mentoring is a real lever for social advancement and self-actualization, in which we firmly believe and which produces quantifiable results. The challenge today is that every young person who needs it should be accompanied by a professional from the public or private sector and should be able to move forward with confidence in building his or her career path. This would be a fantastic signal to work against the territorial and social fractures of the post-health crisis and a sign of hope for national cohesion.

Article originally published by Sciences Po's editorial team.

More information 

  • About Salomé Berlioux: With a Master's degree in Public affairs from Sciences Po, Salomé Berlioux has worked in a strategic communications consultancy and in ministerial cabinets, notably at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is the founder and managing director of the association Chemins d'Avenirs. She is co-author of Les Invisibles de la République (with Erkki Maillard, éditions Robert Laffont, January 2019). She was commissioned by the Minister of National Education and Youth on the theme of "Guidance and equal opportunities in France's rural areas and small towns'' and submitted her report last March. Her new essay « Nos campagnes suspendues – La France périphérique face à la crise » was been published in October 2020 by L'Observatoire.
  • On the association Chemins d'Avenirs
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Online Career Fair

From 14 to 16 October 2020
  • Online Career FairOnline Career Fair

Every year, the Sciences Po Career Fair gathers recruiters, students and graduates, in a unique opportunity to meet and explore job and internship opportunities.

Because of the unprecedented sanitary context, the 2020 edition will be held on-line via the Seekube platform from 14 to 16 October.

The Career fair is a unique opportunity for students to:

  • Get information on a wide range of companies, their values, the opportunities they offer, and their recruitment process for jobs and internships
  • Find an internship, a first job, a graduate programme…
  • Develop their career project
  • Network
  • Practice job interviews.

Important : As the Fair will be held online, recruiters and students or graduates located outside of France will have the unique opportunity to take part in it.

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Good Economics for Harder Times

Follow up on Esther Duflo's inaugural lecture
  • Actualité Sciences Po © Bryce VickmarkActualité Sciences Po © Bryce Vickmark
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Meet Zina Akrout, laureate of the 2020 Max Lazard award

  • Actualité Sciences Po © Zina AkroutActualité Sciences Po © Zina Akrout

Zina Akrout is a graduate student in the Master’s of Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs and has been awarded the Max Lazard Prize to carry out her project “Berbers of Tunisia”. Interview on her journey so far, distinctive for her unbounded curiosity and in its strong international dimension.

You completed your undergraduate studies in the dual degree between Sciences Po and UCL. Can you tell us why you chose this programme and what was your experience?

Zina Akrout: I chose the dual degree between Sciences Po and UCL firstly for the curriculum, which requires students to major in a humanities discipline and a European language (French, German, Spanish or Italian depending on the student's background, abilities and choice), which are studied intensively throughout the four years of the degree at both universities. I was highly looking forward to this dual experience and learning from different perspectives. I was also able to tailor the degree based on my personal choices and interests. I chose to spend the first two years on Sciences Po’s Menton campus to be able to study MENA-related courses in addition to Italian (*as of 2020, Italian is no longer offered in Menton) with a specialisation in International Law... I also very much enjoyed going from Sciences Po’s multidisciplinary way of teaching to the more Anglo-Saxon approach at UCL. There, I took Public Policy courses and was able to take specific classes in disciplines such as Urban Politics and Political Geography and also language courses at the same level as Modern Languages students. Overall, the programme was a wonderful experience not only academically speaking but also on a personal level as both settings led me to meet people I can call friends for life and offered great extracurricular opportunities and support.

You took an exchange semester at Bocconi University during your Master's in Public Policy at Sciences Po. Due to the sanitary crisis, your experience abroad was quite different than expected. Can you tell us how the exchange was carried out? How did the experience nonetheless complement your Master's studies overall?

ZA: I chose to spend the final semester of my Master's at the School of Public Affairs on an academic exchange at the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy. It was indeed an odd time to be in academic exchange and especially in the north of Italy, a region that was tremendously impacted by the sanitary crisis and made quite the headlines. The university closed at the end of February, just two weeks after the start of classes, and switched to online learning immediately. They were very good at adapting to the situation and managed to use online resources and digital tools to ensure the teaching could continue remotely, provided people had space, internet connectivity, and the mindset to do so! The exchange allowed me to take more management and sustainability-related classes to complement my curriculum and to see how Bocconi's "business-school" way of teaching differs from that of Sciences Po’s School of Public Affairs. I highly recommend to Master’s students in the future to consider an academic exchange during their gap year or for their last semester, as it is an enriching experience and an option that is not well known!

You recently were awarded the Max Lazard prize for a project entitled "Berbers of Tunisia". Can you tell us about it?

ZA: This project is more of a personal one: as a Franco-Tunisian citizen, I am deeply interested in Berber heritage and identity. My goal is to carry out a field research trip to learn and explore Berber heritage and identity in Tunisia. The Berber community in Tunisia is very much in the minority and has expressed concerns over the lack of official recognition of its identity and culture. I would, therefore, like to conduct a sociological survey on the Berber identity and the feelings of Tunisian citizens of Berber descent to analyse how they apprehend their culture, their integration and their potential revendications. This research would be combined with a field study to map the different existing initiatives for the protection and promotion of Berber culture in Tunisia (mainly in South East Tunisia). This topic is dear to my heart, and I am very grateful to have been awarded the Max Lazard Prize to help me realise this project.

What form will the project take? When do you plan to carry it out?

ZA: The perception and study of the Berber identity in Tunisia are very different from that of other countries in the region and hardly addressed nowadays. I hope to be able to gather enough information and knowledge for this research that could be reusable for those concerned by the matter or interested in the subject. It is mostly a personal and not a professional project, but I intend to go as far as possible in the research and reflection and hopefully bring a modest contribution to giving a voice to people who remain little heard by their government and other groups. Any cultural heritage deserves to be analysed and somehow studied. 

The project will most likely culminate into an article and a video report - depending on if the people interrogated agree to be filmed. If individuals prefer to not speak on camera, I may decide to turn this project into a photo exhibition (virtual or physical) with descriptions. 

I hope to carry out this project this summer, government measures vis à vis the sanitary crisis in France and Tunisia permitting. It also depends on the availability of individuals I hope to interview. If it is not possible this summer, I plan to carry out the field research trip next winter!

What are your plans for the future after your graduation?

ZA: At the moment I am still completing my MPP in Digital, New Technology & Public Policy at Sciences Po, and am studying Food Geography at the Sorbonne. After finishing my Master's thesis for that curriculum, I hope to start a career in food policy, and more specifically in the food-tech sector.

Interview by the Sciences Po Editorial Team.

More about the Max Lazard Award

“This grant has been active at Sciences Po since 1956 and has adapted to contextual changes and university reforms by knowing how to cultivate its fund: the thirst for intelligence and the passion for discovery…” - Gérard Wormser

We owe this philanthropic fund to Max Lazard (18765-1953). Max Lazard left his job at his family’s bank to become a volunteer social worker and write a thesis on unemployment. He assisted Albert Thomas during the first world war and later became an activist for civic and political education in Europe. It is with this open mind and the desire to confront oneself with the world, combined with sincere intellectual and personal curiosity that the jury selects laureates for this prize, awarded annually since 1956.

The laureates of this prize receive financial support up to 3,000 euros depending on the cost of their project and are offered the possibility to publish an article or dossier in the “Sens Public” journal - subject to acceptance by its scientific committee.

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Discover the School of Public Affairs' Public Policy Incubator

  • Discover the School of Public Affairs' Public Policy IncubatorDiscover the School of Public Affairs' Public Policy Incubator

Offered to all students of the School of Public Affairs during their second semester, the Public Policy Incubator is one of the flagship educational programmes of the Policy Lab.

This course is designed to ensure that students have the ability to co-create concrete solutions to improve citizen’s lives, public administration and private companies. The aim is to provide stakeholders with innovative, user-friendly and practical recommendations. On this occasion, innovative methodologies and high technologies are explored to foster open democracy and collective intelligence. Students gain professional experience by working on a real-world problem, following a single methodology to help them develop prototypes with experiential learning, evidence-based, data-driven and ethical approaches.

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Sciences Po has been a long and impactful journey

EAP student tells us about her master's thesis
  • Estela is a student in the Master in Public Policy © Sciences PoEstela is a student in the Master in Public Policy © Sciences Po

Estela is a Master’s student in Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs. During her last semester, she chose to write a Master’s Thesis on how gender affects the behaviour of Federal deputies in Brazil when initiating bills and spending the public budget for the parliamentary activities. She tells us about this thesis she recently defended.

YOU ARE GRADUATING THIS YEAR FROM THE SCIENCES PO SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE?

I arrived at Sciences Po in 2017 and during the past three years, I cannot tell how many times colleagues and teachers — sometimes younger than me — have asked me why I was still a student at the age of 29. Sometimes I would ask myself the same: would it not have been easier to continue working as a lawyer in Brazil, where I left "a promising career"? I suppose it would. But coming from a country where only 0.8% of a 210 million-population has a master’s degree, I must recognise how privileged I am to be able to complete a degree at this age.
Privileged, but also grateful, especially for having maturity to recognise that there is so much that I still need to learn, experience, practice, read, discuss… And the maturity to understand that I must apply such privileges to work towards a fairer world.

In this context, Sciences Po has been a long and impactful journey. During my Master’s, I could develop and gain academic and analytical tools to keep engaging in the endless efforts towards a better society. And at Sciences Po, through courses organised within the scope of PRESAGE - Sciences Po’s Gender Studies Programme, I had the opportunity to learn about gender studies, feminist scholars and I could understand gender issues through the academic perspective.

WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE A THESIS ON GENDER AND LEGISLATIVE BEHAVIOUR IN BRAZIL?

The world is now facing a pandemic and an unprecedented crisis that this is putting under stress and scrutiny every act and decision made by world leaders. Not all countries are acting and handling the crisis equally. News outlets all over the world have been announcing that, compared to the average, some countries are doing a disproportionately better job. Countries such as Germany, New Zealand and Finland are leading the way, and they have one thing in common: women leaders. But can we really believe that the better acts and results are due to the gender of these leaders? These reflections pose the general question of whether gender has an impact on how world leaders and policymakers behave and conduct their decision-making processes.

Being born in a country in which men historically represent more than 85% of the total seats of elected Parliament, my thesis project originated from my attempt to imagine what differences one could expect if, instead of 15%, women composed 100% of the seats. I searched for answers to questions about whether the gender balance in the legislature could result in more initiation of bills and policies towards women’s rights, and in a fairer use of public budget and expenditure. Ultimately, I wanted to empirically test the opinions, literature, and analysis on the relationship between gender and political behaviour.

WHAT DID YOU FIND IN YOUR RESEARCH?

After analysing large datasets on the bills initiated during five Legislatures in Brazil, and on the use of the quota for the exercise of the parliamentary activity (Cota para o Exercício da Atividade Parlamentar), I found results that reveal that gender does affect certain behaviours of the Federal deputies.
Regarding the themes of initiated bills, females prioritise social sciences and humanities, human rights and minorities, legislative procedures, health and education more than male deputies. By contrast, men prioritise bills in law and justice, international relations and trade, land protection, and agriculture, livestock, fishing and extraction more than female deputies.

Women also proportionally initiate and prioritise more bills on gender interests than men. When comparing the different bills on gender interests, females give highest priority on "domestic violence". Regarding the spending behaviours, the research revealed that women prioritise the spending in "courses, conferences and events" and "disclosure and advertisement of parliamentary activity" more than men. By contrast, men prioritise the spending in "boat rent" and "aircraft rent" more than women do. I conclude that these differences might be attributed to gender-role socialisation and sex-based selection during electoral process.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO NEXT?

On one hand, my research presented interesting findings on gendered behaviour and might contribute to closing certain research gaps in Brazil. On the other hand, the results raise several new questions and research reflections that I intend to continue addressing. For example, I intend to address what the outcomes of the factors that I have identified — different priorities in out-of-pocket expenses and in bills initiation — are. Simply put, I would like to assess whether these different behaviours are translated into more ability for women to undertake substantive representation. For example, I could assess whether the different behaviours lead to more policies towards women’s rights, or to more efficiency in the public budget allocation for policies. I could also study the relationship between women’s representation and women-friendly policy, in order to examine whether policies themselves influence women’s levels of representation. In this sense, a look at the electoral process and the sex-based selection could be particularly interesting in order to complement my research’s findings.
So, I hope I’ll keep answering why I am still a student at the age of 30+!

Interview initially published on the PRESAGE Programme website.

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Open House day, Graduate Schools: 28 november 2020

  • Open House Day Graduate Schools 2020Open House Day Graduate Schools 2020

Have you ever thought about studying in France? Let’s meet and talk about your future Master’s Degree, all taught in English and/or French. You’ll meet our international students, who had just like you thought about Sciences Po a few years ago and are now studying in France’s leading university in the social sciences.

Discover what makes Sciences Po the best choice for your future by attending our Virtual Open House Day event on 28 November 2020.

This Open House Day event will be only digital to allow as many people as possible to participate despite possible health restrictions. No visitors will be welcomed on site.

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Benoît Morgat, graduate of 2019

From the Master in Public Policy to Unibail-Rodamco
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

Benoît Mortgat, a 2019 graduate of the Master in Public Policy, tells us about his career path.

Can you describe your academic and professional background?

After a French high school diploma and a three-year scientific prep course, I joined École Centrale Paris in 2013. After one and a half semesters on the Châtenay-Malabry campus, I did an exchange semester at the ESCP business school in Berlin. Then, a gap year led me to do an internship in Finance at Société Générale (Paris and then Hong Kong) as an assistant trader, followed by another 4-month internship in a start-up business in the field of tourism. My last year at École Centrale Paris was an opportunity to specialise in IT. I then joined Sciences Po in September 2017, as part of the first class of the Sécurité et défense policy stream of the Master in Public Policy. My second year as an apprentice enabled me to join the security department of a CAC40 company, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, where I am currently on a permanent contract!

What were the main stages in the construction of your professional project?

When I arrived at engineering school, like many students, I had little idea of what I wanted to do as a job, or even in what field I wanted to specialise. I was then lucky enough, during my studies at Centrale, to be able to "try out" a wide variety of fields: an exchange semester in business school, an internship in finance, an internship in a start-up business, and finally to specialise in IT in my final year of engineering school! Progressively during my Centrale curriculum, my interest in security and defense issues grew and matured. In June 2017, I took part in the "grandes écoles" cycle of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale) which confirmed my appetence for this field. I then joined Sciences Po in the Sécurité et défense policy stream where I learned a lot about this field in a broad way.

Today, I have the ambition of a great career in this field, combining my technical skills as a Centralien engineer and my career at Sciences Po!

How did the recruitment process at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield go?

When I joined Sciences Po, I had in mind to complete my second year of my master in apprenticeship (alternating 3 days in the company and 2 days at Sciences Po). So I went to a Student-Business Forum in November 2017 with the idea of starting to find out about companies and public organizations that were recruiting on a work-study program. At the time, I was more attracted to the large defense industries, but meeting a friend on the Unibail-Rodamco stand (the takeover of Westfield only took place in June 2018) allowed me to get to know this company better and to learn that a secure work-study position was being created! HR then gave me the contact details of the Safety Director for France, with whom I had an interview. Then a few more exchanges with Human Resources enabled me to access to this safety work-study position.

So the recruitment process was quite unusual, but it shows that you should not put barriers in the way when looking for a job and widen the fields of research as much as possible, because our place is not always where you think it should be!

What are the main characteristics of your job today?

After my apprenticeship, I was recruited on a permanent contract at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield where I currently hold the position of European Security Analyst. I am fortunate to be able to actively participate in the development of a security department in a CAC40 company. Indeed, the awareness of the need to focus on security issues in shopping centres is quite recent and many processes remain to be defined and implemented. My role is to support the teams in European shopping centres (around fifty centres) in order to better manage their security issues. The subjects I deal with on a daily basis are very varied: preparation and follow-up of an audit on the security of the centres, management of security data to enable management and decision-making, crisis alert systems, communication, sharing feedback on incidents, drafting of policy documents, and more!

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is a large company in terms of market capitalization but is relatively small in terms of number of employees (only 3700 employees worldwide!). It makes it possible to be very agile and quick in making decisions, to be able to take initiatives and to be quickly in contact with the top management, which is really appreciated on a daily basis!

What advice would you give to a Master’s student or recent graduate looking for a first professional experience?

My first piece of advice would be to talk to young (or not so young) professionals from a variety of fields and professions! Whether you know perfectly well what profession you would like to work in or are completely lost, you should not hesitate to meet people from your personal or educational network (the Sciences Po’s alumni network is very handy for that!) and ask them specific questions about their daily lives. Next, it seems essential to me to apply for several job offers and to identify for each of them all the characteristics that are linked to them! Indeed, a job is not just a job but also an organization, values, a place, colleagues, schedules, a salary, etc... You have to learn to always weigh all this on the scale!

Sciences Po students are very valuable on the job market because they have strong analytical skills and can quickly understand the multiple issues at stake in a given situation. That is very precious for a company in a world that changes quickly and always needs to adapt!

Don't put barriers in your way!

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