Reflecting on a summer internship at Acumen

After spending the summer doing an internship in the Acumen offices, we sat down with Danaé Steisel to get her thoughts on her time here. Thanks for all of your contributions Danaé!

Hi Danaé, thanks for taking the time to discuss your internship with us. Just very broadly to get started, how have you found your time at Acumen?

From day one, the staff were really kind to me and made me feel like I could add value to their work. Acumen has a nice work atmosphere as it is a small and quiet office, allowing me to get really focused on my work.  I had very interesting tasks, from monitoring and drafting to deep research on a subject, so I was never bored. The Acumen team works as a whole and everyone’s contribution matters. I always felt like I could rely on my colleagues if I had an issue completing my task. Also, the staff are from all around the world, so there’s an international vision and understanding of EU policy matters (the lunch debates were therefore very interesting).

You had just finished your bachelor's degree and spent your summer here. How did you find the adjustment from academia to working in public affairs and communications?

The main objective of working at Acumen was to give a concrete shape to my studies.

I studied Political Sciences at Université de Saint-Louis (Brussels), where I  learned about a large scope of topics. I wanted to understand better what working in the political area really means. How do people from public affairs get in touch with international organizations? How are they helping these? What skills are required?

Thanks to Acumen, I had the privilege to discover how it works “behind the scenes” of the European Union. I realised how important EU policies are for private companies and NGO’s.  I now understand the key role of consultancy firms like Acumen, providing critical policy and institutional analysis to their clients and thus bridging the gap between the civil society and the EU’s institutions. Truly fascinating!

This kind of internship seems crucial to me as it puts your entire academic training in perspective. After my time at Acumen, I changed my mind about my Master’s choice. Indeed, I realised what I was good at and what I less enjoyed about the job. Something I would never have discovered without this great opportunity.

In one sentence, what advice could you give to other people looking to begin their careers in public affairs?

Be curious and creative: behind every news story and policy, there’s an opportunity or a challenge for a client!