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'You can learn much about yourself by doing an internship '

Oberon Janszen studied Public Administration at Leiden University, followed by the master’s in Public Adminstration: Economics & Governance at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. After completing his studies, he joined the Inspectorate of the Budget as an intern. 'It's a smooth transition between what you've learnt in public administration and how to apply this during your internship.'

Oberon Janszen

What does the Inspectorate of the Budget actually do?

Oberon: 'The Inspectorate of the Budget (IRF) is one of many branches of the Ministry of Finance. The IRF advises the minister on the financial implications of the policies of other ministries. The IRF then assesses whether those policies are efficient and effective; in other words, it looks at them from an economic perspective. It has two staff bureaus and several divisions overseeing one or more ministries. I was an intern at the research staff office Bureau Strategic Analysis (BSA) and worked for the division overseeing the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK).' 

Did you have a fixed set of responsibilities?

'It is a very broad internship. For instance, I had to brainstorm with different partners, oversee policy proposals where I and the rest of the division looked at the extent to which the policies proposed by the Ministry of EZK are effective and efficient. I dealt with several climate dossiers and had several research assignments. As a trainee, you have many responsibilities and are also allowed, for example, to contribute to recommendations intended for the minister.' 

So you are allowed to make your own recommendations?

'Well, it's a bit more indirect. Together with colleagues, I was allowed to help advise the section head, who assists the minister in all administrative matters.'

Did you know beforehand what exactly you would be doing? From what you told me, it all sounds quite abstract. Wist je van tevoren dan al precies wat je zou doen? Als ik het zo hoor, klinkt het allemaal best abstract.

'No, because the job description was quite abstract. For example, it said in the job description 'You will help explore complex (topical) issues'. This could, for instance, be an issue that popped up in the news that you would then have to investigate and afterwards advise the division on this issue. It is a very broad task and very versatile. Politicians want to implement ideas and the questions raised by these ideas then come to us. To see if those ideas are financially feasible and whether they are economically justified. The issues come and go and that's amazing. The internship is really at the forefront of politics.' 

How did you find the atmosphere at the ministry? Is it what you expected it to be?

'Yes, the atmosphere's really nice. Everything you learnt in public administration; you can apply here. Many people also have administrative or economic backgrounds, so it's easy to follow everything. It's a smooth transition between what you've learnt in public administration and how to apply this during your internship.' 

Can you give us an example?

'In the economic subjects of public administration, you learn economic reasoning. Everyone here at the ministry's constantly using that. Think of subsidy schemes, for example, based on economic arguments, you discuss whether it's the most desirable instrument to intervene in the market. So, then you really see how you can apply something learned from theory in practice.'  

You really come alive when you talk about it

‘Yes, that's because I really enjoy it. The department is quite young, many people have recently graduated. That's something I like and the work is also very dynamic and political. The workload is also high, and I thrive on that. People here work incredibly hard.' 

Would you also recommend doing an internship to people?

'Yes, internships in general are fun and a good experience. For instance, you learn skills: how to relate professionally to your colleagues. And what input to provide during a meeting. You can learn much about yourself by doing an internship and find out who you want to become, professionally.'

Did the internship also help you figure out what you would like to do?

'The internship helped me figure out what suits me best. For instance, I know that I really like a dynamic environment. I'm currently doing the central government's economics class, BOFEB. I get six months of lectures on economics and public finance and in the second semester of the traineeship, I'll be reposted to the IRF. Through the traineeship, I found out that I wanted to study economics further.'

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