EU4EU Host Organization experience during Covid: ALDA


Rome, 25 June 2021

The EU4EU Programme was born six years ago to facilitate the transition between higher education and the professional world for students from Italian, Spanish, and French EU4EU university Consortia. The Programme gives them an opportunity to match with Host Organizations based in the EU for an Erasmus+ internship abroad.

Today’s guest is Matteo Parisen, HR Manager at the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA). ALDA is a french NGO with its headquarter based in Strasbourg. There are also several offices in other countries: Vicenza in Italy, Brussels in Belgium, Skopje in the Republic of North Macedonia, Chișinău in the Republic of Moldova and Tunis in Tunisia.

The organisation works with both EU and non-EU funds on projects mainly in the field of good governance and civic engagement; currently, they are running around 60 projects. This 20-years-old organization operates with 45 staff and an additional 350 registered members; they also work in collaboration with local authorities, civic organizations and more project partners.

As HR Manager, Matteo is the one in charge of recruiting interns. He told us that the profile of interns he looks for is someone who is “interested in European Funds and/or project management. They should also be fluent in English and if possible, in French”.

Recently, ALDA hosted five interns through the EU4EU Programme, one in their headquarter in Strasbourg, three in their office in Brussels and one in Skopje. Most of them have been working in assisting the Project Managers implementing European projects on environment or on climate change. Matteo commented that so far: “the experience is very positive, I received positive feedback from the project managers and it is still going on, as some of the internships will last until November”.

The interns working with ALDA are assigned with different tasks, according to their interests and areas of expertise. Some of them have been working on communication, through newsletters, and social media; some assisted project managers, to get experience as they also aspire to become experts in the project management field in the future. They handled different tasks for the implementation of a project such as checking the budget and assisting in the making of the financial reports; managing and implementing the logistical support, contacting project partners, assisting administrative tasks, writing proposition papers and translating relevant documents.

Like many other organizations, ALDA suffered a big crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to “follow different rules about how to manage the situation, considering that the organization is spread across different countries”. As HR manager, Matteo had to draft a calendar allowing people to come into the office on some days and not on others to avoid crowding the office and the spread of the virus. He said that “people work much better together in the office but this was the only solution for the situation”. Instead, a lot of events and projects were held online; they also had meetings every week on Skype to discuss with the staff about how to proceed.

It was fortunate that most of the trainees could relocate into the cities in which their assigned offices were, despite the pandemic situation; by doing that, the trainees had the opportunity to come work in the office. Only one out of the five trainees had to stay in their home country and do the internship completely remotely. Another trainee, however, even though he is in the city where our office was based, because of the grave development of COVID-19 where he was, worked mostly remotely from his apartment as there was a lockdown in the city.

The participation in the EU4EU Programme has brought numerous advantages to ALDA, especially in the creation of new European projects, the growth of their teams as well as its internationalization. “Internationalization is something we believe in, it is very interesting to match with people from different places in the world, and see how they work on the same issues/topics”, Matteo said. “As an international organization, ALDA gathers not only people from all over Europe but also from Africa and South America”, he stated.

Matteo emphasizes that the EU4EU Portal is an outstanding tool for hiring interns. The matching phase is a two-way process: “sometimes, we have students from the EU4EU Portal that have sent us an email saying they are interested in doing an internship with us, other times, I check the EU4EU website and look for interesting profiles on my own”. As Matteo said, the portal is also very user-friendly and greatly facilitates the search for potential candidates. “I can filter the profiles to my demands and I can screen CVs and Cover Letters right away. It is also made very clear whether the students are willing or not to relocate and to which of our offices they might want to relocate to”.

“Currently at ALDA we are searching for interns to match with, for an internship with us starting in September”, he concludes.