Hear from Eline Schaart, the recipient of our fourth fellowship

October 10, 2018 | My first post

It’s been over two months since I learned that I would be the fourth recipient of the Lénaïc Fund for Quality Journalism, and I still feel as fortunate and thankful today as back then. When I heard the news – after anxiously checking my email every five minutes for a couple of days – I was thrilled, but also anxious as to whether I would be able to fulfill the expectations as representative of the fund. That anxiety hasn’t completely faded, but fortunately it diminished over the great experiences and people I have met since I received that lucky email.

Four weeks ago, I started my placement at POLITICO. I had moved to Belgium six months prior to work part-time at a Japanese newspaper. Here I tried to understand the complex structure that makes up the EU, and I would often turn to POLITICO for help. I am still trying to wrap my mind around all the institutions, rules, and people that make up the EU, but now I am surrounded by extremely knowledgeable and experienced people to guide me.

The first two weeks I was assigned to the breaking news team, which involves following the news closely and writing a short article if something relevant happens. Now that I am a bit more settled into my new work environment, I am working on other projects as well. I helped, for example, writing this year’s women shaping Brussels list and I regularly contribute to the EU decides blog. In the coming weeks, I will be working with political editor Ryan Heath on some projects in the context of the European Parliament election next May.

Contrary to previous internship experiences, I am given plenty of work and trust. As a result, I feel I have already gained new skills and experience, despite only being one-fifth into my placement. So far, every day has been different: One day I am contributing a live-blog during the EU Council Summit, the other I am interviewing British MPs or following a debate between MEPs about LGBTI-rights.

What has definitely helped me to feel comfortable and confident while getting used to the new workload and environment, is that everyone in the office has been very helpful and kind. Lénaïc’s parents and former beneficiaries of the fund have also been great supporters by offering endless advice and warm words.

It feels strange sometimes to be present at a place because of another person’s absence. Last week I was talking to a colleague at POLITICO who told me that she had known Lénaïc from her previous job. Those moments make me even more aware of how lucky I am to be here and I cannot express enough how grateful I am for this opportunity.

If you want to see what I am doing, you can follow me on Twitter or join my journey on Instagram.