ESA Office Communiqué – Christine's Internship at the European Sociological Association
Christine Frank, Paris
In early 2017, as I was preparing myself for the final semester of my Master’s Degree at Paris Descartes University, I came across an email from the programme’s director, saying that the European Sociological Association (ESA) was looking for an intern who could help them prepare for their biannual conference, taking place that summer in Athens. Seeking to gain knowledge about both the structure and functions of an association, I immediately contacted ESA’s then president, Frank Welz. Even with the numerous amounts of professional obligations he had, Mr. Welz responded promptly, and we were able to arrange an interview with ESA’s coordinator Dr. Dagmar Danko, Mr. Welz and myself at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH) in Paris. Both Dr. Danko and Mr. Welz, the latter of whom is based in Austria and thus joined us through Skype, were very welcoming and exuded a genuine interest in my previous professional, educational and personal experiences, as well as my motivations behind wanting to join the ESA team. After leaving the interview, I realised that our meeting had only furthered my desire to work with this association whose values not only paralleled my own, but were also clearly exemplified by the team that I just had the privilege of meeting.
A few weeks later, I found myself working alongside Dr. Danko in their small, but cosy office at the FMSH, which was then in Paris’ thirteenth district. With the construction of their new website underway, my primary task was to examine the association’s archives, extracting information that I deemed pertinent for the future content of www.europeansociology.org. To do this, I initially had to familiarise myself with ESA’s framework, a task with which Dr. Danko was pleased to help. Once I felt as though I had sufficient understanding of the association’s general makeup, I began compiling documents that could later be used as website content. These included information about previous conferences, the PhD Summer School Programme, the ESA Book Series, and the history of ESA. In the midst of all of this, I was also able to assist Dr. Danko and ESA’s secretary at the time, Andreia Batista Dias, with the office’s move to FMSH’s newly renovated building in Paris’ sixth district, where it remains today. Together, we worked towards optimising the limited amount of space we were allotted in our new location.
Once we were settled, we had to quickly return to our conference duties as registration was approaching. Simultaneously juggling tasks ranging from website decisions to conference planning, it is needless to say that Dr. Danko was busy, to say the least. However, my presence along with her trust and confidence in my ability to take on more work, made possible for me to handle, in part, the massive amount of email flowing into ESA’s inbox. This required not only a general understanding of certain functions within the association, but also the capacity to take the initiative when needed in order to resolve conference participant issues regarding registration, payment, presentations, etc. Being well-organised and detail-oriented are two characteristics that played a crucial role in fulfilling assignments throughout my internship.
In the end, saying that I enjoyed my time as an ESA intern would be an understatement. The supportive team, the interaction with ESA members and conference participants, and the everyday functions within the association all equip you for future professional experiences whether they be with an association or elsewhere. It is an opportunity to engage in projects where you truly feel needed, as well as an essential part of the end result. Plus, the setting could not be better as you are literally in the heart of Paris!