Well this is it, I'm finally doing it. In four days I'll be moving on from Zurich and hopping a train up to Brussels, trying to make it as an EU journalist. I'll still be doing my work-at-home job in the mornings, but now in the afternoons I'll be able to go to events, press conferences and interviews for freelance articles.
For the past few months I've been writing freelance articles on EU politics for a few different publications, but I've found I could only do so much while not being in Brussels itself (I can only write so many articles on Switzerland joining the Schengen Zone and Obama's relations with Europe!). I'm in the process of getting credentialed for the press centre, so it's all very exciting. I'll be continuing to work on my French at the same time with another course three days a week.
Of course my long-term goal is to find a full-time job in Brussels covering the EU, but I know it's going to be a challenge, especially in this job market. Careers in Europe tend to be very stratified into tracks, and journalism is no exception. From what I've seen most of the young EU reporters in Brussels writing for policy-focused publications all started as interns for MEPs or for the Commission, and most of them tend to have the same kind of background. Of course, I've never worked for the EU in any capacity, and I haven't been on a track for working within the EU like they have. My knowledge of the EU comes from my education, but not from being part of it. So I've got work to do in expanding my list of contacts, but I'm ready to dive into it. My general experience with government has always been from the outside looking in, having covered the US government, Chicago politicians, and European regulatory bodies. Being an outsider can make generating contacts a challenge. But I've been thrown into strange reporting beats before and picked them up quickly, so I'm pretty confident I can do it again here.
I'll be very interested to see what living in Brussels is like. I've heard...well...mixed reviews! I've been there many times, but never lived there. I think I'm going to love it, but I'm a peculiar breed I suppose. I've taken a room in an apartment I'll be sharing with a girl from Iceland, she works in Brussels in food lobbying. My Brussels life is already so international!