João Lobo, IBEI alumni 2008-10
1. Why did you choose IBEI Master’s?
At 40 years old, I arrived at Barcelona wanting to make a radical change in my personal and professional career. At first, I thought about studying sustainable tourism, but somehow that option seemed rather narrow. I was looking for a wide-open programme. Since I was a kid, I had been passionate about international relations. I heard about the IBEI master at the Barcelona Education Fair. The programme’s curriculum seemed fascinating, and the part-time option looked perfect, as I had a part-time job at the time.
2. What is your experience at IBEI?
It was highly positive. I came back to school 18 years after graduation, but now with a broad life experience. The fact that I had a part-time job helped a lot, having enough time to read all the suggested additional articles teachers were recommending.
3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI
I knew I wanted to start a new professional experience after the master’s, and I am extremely grateful to IBEI for having offered me the possibility of doing an internship at the Department of External Action of the Catalan Government, with whom IBEI had concluded an agreement; the tasks I was undertaking were related with the Secretariat-General of the Euroregion Pyrenees-Mediterranean, a territorial cooperation between two Spanish Autonomous Communities and two French Regions. Immediately after my internship, Catalonia assumed the presidency of the Euroregion, and I was hired to give support to the additional tasks that responsibility entailed. Two years later, I became Officer in Higher Education, Research and Culture of the Euroregion: I worked for five years between Toulouse and Barcelona and then two years in Perpignan, France, as the Euroregion moved its headquarters there. For two years now I have been working at Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean as Analyst for Higher Education and Research; the UfM is an intergovernmental institution bringing together the EU Member States and 15 countries from the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean to promote dialogue and cooperation.
4. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now?
It gave me a proper framework to work on international relations’ matters. Furthermore, courses such as those on Euro-Mediterranean Relations and European Policies, in particular, were very much related with what I am currently doing.
5. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?
It’s beyond expectation, especially as I finished my studies when the financial crisis started. I consider that I was terribly lucky to be able to start a brand-new professional career at 42 years old in Barcelona, the place where for personal reasons I wanted to stay.
6. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students?
They should look for opportunities and not to give up easily. In order to change my professional career radically I had to be an intern at 40, which is something that normally happens at 22. I don’t regret it.
7. What do you miss most about IBEI?
I miss the intellectual stimulus the academic context provides, which makes you very much attentive to what happens around you and gives you appropriate tools to better understand the root causes of the world events.