Profile of Ian McCafferty
European Commission Social Media Team
After completing a BA in English and History at University College Dublin, I worked as a volunteer with various NGOs and non-profit organisations before deciding to pursue a Masters in International Relations in Dublin City University.
This led me to take on an internship in a small NGO working with migrant communities in Ireland, which eventually evolved into a full-time job. Over the next few years I held a number of positions related to advocacy and project management, culminating with the role of Head of Communications. That was my springboard to the EU.
Having become increasingly aware that many decisions being made in Brussels had a direct impact on people in Ireland and elsewhere, I wanted to get closer to the decision-making process, learn about it in a hands-on, practical manner and develop my capacity to communicate about it to raise awareness and, ultimately, get more people involved in shaping those decisions. I applied to become a stagiaire at the European Commission and was selected by its Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM).
Over the course of the five month traineeship I took whatever opportunities came my way: I had the chance to write and to develop presentations; I asked to undertake trainings and play a role in various projects; I looked to learn what I could and get involved where possible. As a result, when a vacancy within DG COMM’s Social Media Team arose toward the end of my traineeship, I was in a good position to apply. The opportunities are there if you look for them.
My job is to give the European Commission a voice online - more specifically, on social media. Social media is driven by storytelling, the art of which is to know your audience. As audiences vary depending on the platform in question (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc), my job is to tell a story in different ways across social media. Every story is different and so is every day at my desk. Our approach to presenting the Commission’s key messages is always evolving, as is the way we react to responses and collect and analyse the resultant data (e.g. number of people reached, engagement rate etc). I am constantly learning.
Irish graduates can bring a lot to the European Institutions: new perspectives; personal opinion; fresh energy. The EU needs ‘digital natives’ – millennials who can help the EU click, copy and code its way to a more digital existence. Being a native English speaker is definitely a big advantage. Having a good grasp of at least one more language is one step further. If you like the idea of working with a multi-cultural team of talented and passionate people and want to make a real difference, the EU could be for you.