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From Lund to Brussels!

Alumni talk about their careers in Brussels and valued experiences from their studies at Lund University

Meet Ketrin Jochecová, now a Reporter for POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook. Prior to joining POLITICO in 2023, she was a spokesperson for the Czech EU Presidency for the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic in Prague. Simultaneously, she was a fellow at Global Policy Research Group and oversaw research on the fight against disinformation in the EU.

Sofie von Schenck, Ketrin Jochecová, Jelle Verheij, and Sam Whalley - Alumni from our Master of Science Programme in European Affairs. Photo.
Sofie von Schenck, Ketrin Jochecová, Jelle Verheij, and Sam Whalley - all previous LU students talk about how they found their way to Brussels. Photo: Björn Frostner.

Ketrin previously carried out an internship at the Council of Europe’s press unit and wrote for the magazine The Perspective. She holds a master’s degree in European Affairs from Lund University and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Relations from Masaryk University. Ketrin grew up in the Czech Republic in a Czech-Georgian family and speaks Czech, Russian, English and French and studies Swedish. Before moving to Brussels, she lived in the UK, France and Sweden. In her spare time, she enjoys learning foreign languages and traveling.

Can you tell us about your EU (or Europe-) related job(s)?

My official title is Brussels Playbook reporter, and my main part of the job is working on POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook newsletter. That means writing forward-looking short items about what’s driving the day in various countries, but mainly what is happening in Brussels (as in the city, not necessarily just the EU). I am also in charge of the agenda of officials and commissioners. My typical day, therefore, consists of working on the newsletter, which is the routine part of the job. The other part of the job depends on what else I am currently working on and consists of doing interviews and reporting on events in-person.

Ketrin Jochecová, alumna from the Master of Science Programme in European Affairs. Photo: Björn Frostner.

How did you go about getting your job?

Getting my job at POLITICO was rather straightforward, and even though I don’t remember that much, I believe there were three rounds of interview, including writing a mock part of newsletter. The fact that I speak several languages was definitely a plus in the recruitment process, and the combination of my bachelor’s and master’s degree was probably instrumental.

What did your education give (and didn’t give) you for your career?

I believe that Lund University provided me with basic understanding of the EU, the process of EU elections, and specific terms such as trialogue. Without this understanding, I would be very much lost when I was starting out at my job, and I would have to pay much more attention to these types of theoretical things I could have already learned at the university. And writing and analytical skills are of use as well, especially when dissecting a press release. What I felt like I was unprepared for was networking, which is an essential part of being a journalist – and even living in Brussels. I did not expect that who you know would matter so much in the EU bubble.

How is working in an international setting?

Brussels is an incredibly vibrant and international city like no other. You can do so many things and meet so many different people and you will never get bored, which is why I think people actually stay here for years (let’s face it, the city is a chaos in so many different ways).

How do you manage your work-life-balance?

When it comes to work-life-balance, I would say that to an extent it depends on how you set your boundaries. Brussels has a reputation of leaving employees work into the night, but that’s not a sustainable way of living. In my case, news never sleeps, and you need to be prepared to step in when it’s necessary. But unless the world is on fire, allow yourself to actually respect your working hours and do not feel bad about it.

Do you have any other advice to current students? 

I would say be brave and don’t underestimate yourself when you apply for a job. Sometimes, employers have a lot of requirements, but if you’re lacking some experience, you should still apply (within reason, DO NOT apply to CEO positions with only a six-month internship on your CV).