Víctor Rico Reche, IBEI alumni 2012-13
1. Why did you choose the IBEI Master’s in International Relations?
After almost two years living in China, I decided to go back to Spain and try to reorient my academic training towards the field of international relations. The Master’s program at IBEI was the perfect combination of what I was looking for: a top-level master’s degree in a totally diverse and international environment - from teachers to students, including the city itself; with the possibility of a full track in English and within my home country.
2. What is your experience at IBEI?
The experience at IBEI was amazing. The diversity of students, coming from different cultures and with different backgrounds, made every single lesson a unique opportunity to learn. Teachers at IBEI also played a fundamental role in encouraging the engagement of the students and constantly challenging our prior assumptions. The course was intense, but despite the high amount of work I always felt a pity not having more time to enroll in even more subjects just for the pleasure of learning from such a stimulating environment.
3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI
Through this master, I had the opportunity to work as an intern at the Embassy of Spain in South Korea. Immediately after that internship, I found a job in a Korean company and I stayed working in Seoul for almost two years. After this second international experience living in Asia, I decided it was time to come back to Spain and try to go a step further in my career. My goal then was to work in the European Institutions. To do so I applied for a traineeship in the European Commission and I got a position as a stagiaire in the Press Department Representation of the European Commission in Spain. This opened me the possibility to work as an external expert for a while until I finally passed the AD5 Generalist competition to work as an official in the European Commission.
4. What is your professional experience (your current position, your main functions)?
Since September 2018 I work as Policy Officer in the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, in a team responsible for the Schengen Information System (SIS), a highly efficient large-scale information system that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in Europe -Schengen Area. Our team is responsible for the overall well functioning of the entire Schengen Information System. Our functions are very diverse and are shared by the whole team, going from the preparation and proposition of new legislation to the monitoring and evaluation of how the system is used in the different Member States.
5. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now?
I would say that the master program contributed to preparing me for the work in two different ways. On the one hand, it provided me a thorough knowledge about a wide range of topics, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly related to my current job. Security, diplomacy, international relations or global governance are just a few examples. On the other hand, the master helped me to develop my analytical thinking and my capacity for researching on a wide range of topics. This opportunity to work under time pressure in a variety of complex scenarios is a really useful training for the daily work in an institution like the European Commission.
6. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?
When I was studying the master program I did have a general idea of how my ideal job would look like, but not a clear picture at all of how to find it. Thinking back there, I believe this is exactly what I was always looking for.
7. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students?
Take the most of the year: from your colleagues, your teachers, from every lesson, because such an inspiring and enriching environment is really a short-lived treasure. The year is intense, probably you will want it to end quickly at some point, but learn to enjoy it as well, because when it finally pass you will already start to miss it.
8. What do you miss most about the IBEI?
That amazing feeling that you have when you realize how little you know about something. In some way, I felt again like a kid, fascinated discovering some of the keys of how the world works. It may sound naif, but that is not something easy to experience at a time when we are constantly bombarded by information, and we all think we know more than we do.