Join our team! ESI needs you!
ESI was born during conversations in Sarajevo cafes in 1999, and had its first office in a living room in Berlin.
Since then we have published some influential reports and made television documentaries seen by millions of people. However, we remain a decentralised network, a young and relatively small think tank.
We own no real estate, have no endowment, and possess no car. Our most costly capital asset is a copy machine in our Berlin office. Our most precious resource, however, is the people who make up ESI … and the network of people behind our work since 1999.
If you believe that you would like to join us as a junior fellow in Berlin or Brussels (or any other city where we might need you) ask yourself the following questions first:
Do you read widely and passionately, picking up books on many different subjects, driven by curiosity about the way the world, and human beings, work?
Do you enjoy writing? Can you write under time pressure?
Do you like research, including the frustrating kind where you turn over every stone four times to see if perhaps there is a new insight hidden underneath it?
Do you like to work with other people?
Are you meticulous, attentive to detail, creative, and with a high threshold for the frustration of rewriting the same text 20 times until it is just right?
If your answer is yes to all, or most, of the above questions, there is still one more to answer: are you able and willing to spend at least 3 months with our team, not for the money but for the experience? What ESI provides is a modest stipend of a few hundred Euros a month to junior fellows.
What we did at ESI:
Marv Barbullushi – Albania (2016, Brussels)
Robert Hayes – UK (2017, Brussels/Berlin)
During my Junior Fellowship in Brussels in early 2016, I got to witness ESI's work at the height of the refugee crisis helping me to understand the key role think tanks can have in shaping the policy-making process. My tasks ranged from desk research on migration across the Balkans and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, to assisting ESI's senior analyst in meetings which allowed me to follow ESI's advocacy campaigns from within. The atmosphere at ESI was very friendly. After my fellowship I did a five-month traineeship at the European Parliament, in addition to a one-month traineeship as a MEP assistant. After that, I started a Master program in "International Relations and Diplomacy" at the College of Europe in Bruges.
I was delighted with the variety of issues I worked on during my three months with ESI – from responses to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, to human rights in Azerbaijan, to disputes between Greece and Macedonia. It was a challenge to get my head around unfamiliar situations and to be able to switch focus between them at a moment's notice which certainly developed my analytical skills. Brussels was a wonderful city to work in, and I was able to attend sittings at the European Parliament and conferences at the many other think tanks operating there; it was also great to visit the rest of the team in Berlin for a couple of weeks. The diversity of experience and backgrounds at ESI meant that discussions were always enlightening – I was lucky to work with such friendly and talented people! I couldn't recommend the Junior Fellowship any more to those considering a future in policy research. It was my first experience of any such work, but the total immersion from day one quickly teaches you the skills to analyse policy papers and reports with confidence.
Kiril Zahariev – Bulgaria (2015/2016, Berlin)
Pavel Guranda – Moldova (2015, Berlin)
My nine-month Junior Fellowship in Berlin and Istanbul offered me the possibility to witness current political debates from a privileged perspective. Besides gaining a first-hand experience in the areas of researching, writing and advocacy, I was directly exposed to truly stimulating debates with people coming from different areas of expertise. I was surprised to discover that the organization was rather small and, despite its members being based in different cities, it was no less efficient than a bigger one. Seeing this small team having a leading role in issues like the Syrian refugee crisis or the EU enlargement process encouraged me to persistently refine my arguments when writing. In those months, I felt as if my work contributed to real changes in policy debates! The analytical and writing skills that I developed as a junior fellow – as well as ESI's positive spirit – will surely help me in my next career steps.
Being a Junior Fellow at ESI was a lot more than just a summer work experience. I have great memories of the three months I spent in Berlin, and I often think about that time as really inspirational. The Berlin team was very welcoming and I still remember when I first entered the office: I immediately noticed the shelves full of books. Working surrounded by books is a nice reminder of the importance of reading and critical thinking. The power of clear and intelligent writing at ESI motivated me to learn how to communicate my ideas better. Together with the other team members I would discuss a range of issues ranging from political prisoners in Azerbaijan to successful human rights campaigns across the world and to the EU's relationship with the Republic of Moldova. During these months, I could see a clear improvement in my ability of making an argument.
Michael Lenihan – USA (2012-2013, Berlin/Istanbul)
Working with ESI in Berlin and Istanbul this past year has been an eye-opening experience. I came to the organization having worked in politics and strategic communications - two fields where you are expected to know something about everything. ESI challenges that model, expecting you to know everything about something. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in topics and events that interest you, and that have real implications for people living in and around Europe. My research on Moldova's transition from Soviet republic to EU partner is a great example of how the EU is effectively inspiring meaningful reforms in neighboring countries. With the new perspectives I've gained, and the research techniques I've garnered, I am looking forward to furthering my European studies as I earn my masters in International Affairs and conflict resolution at Columbia University in New York. ESI allowed me to see and understand an important part of the world in a new way, while helping inform the opinions of those working to create a better Europe.
Looking back at my engagement with ESI – being my first professional experience, I can say that my career couldn't have started better. Nowadays, I feel confident while writing analysis, reports, project proposals, etc, all thanks to what I have learnt in ESI. Having been in Brussels, in the centre of the EU decision-making, my working hours were never boring: apart from desk research and writing tasks, I was very often attending high-level conferences and events, meeting relevant stakeholders from the European Parliament, the EU member states, Turkey and Western Balkans, or taking part in the organisation of public debates. Needless to say, Western Balkans and Turkey produce more research material and inspirations than one is capable to process them, thus always challenging you to perform better.
Victoria Kupsch – Germany (2011-2012, Istanbul)
In early 2011, I joined ESI Istanbul as junior fellow and soon started working as policy analyst and coordinator on the The European debate on Turkey project. Together with an international team of wonderful fellows from France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria we produced a series of chronologies monitoring the public debate on Turkey. Not only was I in Turkey – culturally and historically one of the most fascinating and exciting countries in Europe – but also could I witness the political debate from within. I could see and feel the conflict lines and arguments surrounding Turkey's hopes for a future as a member of the European Union. After five months, I was given the opportunity to head ESI's Istanbul office, which I happily took. Surely, this came with a lot of challenges but I could not have learned more in such little time. One of the most exciting parts was to join events, international conferences, and seminars in Istanbul, Berlin, Brussels, and Vienna – once more I grasped how heterogeneous political positions in and on Turkey can be and just how prudent one has to seek for compromise. After almost two years with ESI, I am currently finishing my MSc in Democracy and Comparative Politics at the University College London with a dissertation on the Europeanisation effects on Turkey's minority policies.
Adriana Ciobanu – Romania (2011-2012, Berlin)
Melissa Panszi – Mexico (2010, Istanbul)
I joined the ESI office in Berlin in September 2011, and throughout the next months I have had the chance to work in a team of wonderful people. I did research on the Republic of Moldova for the documentary film 'Moldova - Lost in Transition', and as a political science student I found the experience to be extremely rewarding. I had the opportunity to conduct research on precise topics such as visa liberalization or the wine industry and I took part in two research trips to Moldova, Transnistria, and Northern Romania, where we did interviews with decision-makers, analysts, religious figures, artists, etc. Having obtained my Bachelor's degree, I continued my studies at Sciences Po Paris where I am currently pursuing a Masters in Law.
As a junior fellow with ESI I had the opportunity to engage in the project "Europe's Border Revolution and the Schengen White List Project – Europe's Borders-Global Lessons?" doing research to understand the challenging conditions of the Mexico-United States border and see if there are lessons to be learned from the European integration process. The project was very interesting, especially finding out how an ineffective border policy with disastrous consequences has been kept for years due to political and deep cultural justifications. Comparing policies and conditions in states with similar problems was the next step to find in-depth alternative solutions to the issue. Working in the project allowed me to develop skills to approach the issue from a critical and analytical point of view. The working environment and the support from my colleagues was the most valuable thing during my fellowship. Learning from them, having their feedback and their advice made my experience truly memorable and definitively worthwhile. When I went back to Mexico, I finished my Master in Public Policy and Public Administration with a dissertation on the tactical infrastructure implementation process at the Mexico-U.S. border. Afterwards, I worked for a year at the Center for Security Research and Studies from the National Commission for Security, and then at ProMéxico, the federal institution in Mexico responsible of attracting direct foreign investment and promoting the export of goods and services.
Joanna van Lynden – The Netherlands (2010, Berlin)
Valentin Ariton – Romania (2010, Berlin)
I did a two month fellowship at ESI in Berlin, and enjoyed my time thoroughly. Prior to ESI I gained a Bachelors degree at University College Utrecht, and worked as an intern at the Turkey Institute, a Dutch NGO that aims at broadening the knowledge of Turkey in the Netherlands. At ESI my main task was to research Turkey-EU relations, in particular European public opinion on Turkish accession. The work was interesting, and taught me to research online effectively as well as conduct telephone interviews with EU functionaries. In addition I was given the opportunity to help write an ESI report on the Turkish accession process and worked closely with my colleagues of the Istanbul office. The atmosphere at ESI was welcoming from the start and I soon felt part of the team. After my fellowship at ESI I did a five-month traineeship at the European Commission in Directorate General for Enlargement in Brussels, and then went on to study a Masters in 'Politics and Government in the EU' at the London School of Economics.
My work with ESI has focused on the challenges of managing structural and cohesion funds in Romania and contributed to the ESI "EU enlargement" project. The ESI fellowship provided me with a hands-on experience on a core policy problem of the EU new member states. While combining the field research with analytical work my fellowship squared the knowledge I received during my public policy studies. The friendly work environment allowed me independence while constantly pushing for an innovative and critical intellectual production. Finally my ESI experience successfully contributed to my master thesis preparation and further professional path.