Tango dancing in The Hague
10 May 2017 - By Emilie Westerouen van Meeteren, Master's alumna: 'Feeling unsure of which direction to take with my finished degree, I decided to gain some work experience first. Now I get to try out one of the coolest communication jobs out there.'
Since finishing the Master’s thesis in February, I have been an intern at the press office of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I could have taken some time off, exploring the world and travelling, or I could have looked for an actual job and earned some actual money, but instead I decided to do an internship. It takes a commute from Amsterdam to The Hague and back every day, plus I spend almost all of my earnings on coffee and sandwiches to be consumed on the train, but it is 100% worth it. Feeling unsure of which direction to take with my finished degree, I decided to gain some work experience first. And now I get to try out one of the coolest communication jobs out there.
I work in a team with two press officers and two spokespeople, who together handle all communications regarding the minister of Foreign Affairs. We get involved with subjects like Brexit, the war in Syria, European elections, ISIS, a loose-cannon US president, NATO, cybersecurity, terrorist attacks; the list is as varied as it is long. We work with the issues of the day, so every day is different and unpredictable. We shape the news and the news shapes our days.
One question that I often get nowadays is what I’ve learned during my studies that I actually use in my work.
To any student who has done the Political Communication Master’s track, the tango-dancing theory will ring a familiar bell. It suggests that politics and the media are dancing a tango together, in which both need each other to do their jobs. Only the question is: who is in the lead? Who in the end controls what becomes news and what does not? On the one hand, there are the politicians. They need the media to be an outlet for their message and search for the right emphasis to inform the public in a way that best suits that message. On the other hand, there is media themselves, who look beyond a politician’s message and aim to cover all sides of the story, to serve the general public interest.
At my internship, we try to generate media attention for the minister and his public agenda whenever we can, in the form of press releases, statements or conferences; a media angle for every conference, travel, appearance or handshake. And we respond to journalists’ questions as best we can, even those that we perhaps hoped nobody would ask.
If there is anything from my studies that I relate directly to my daily work, it’s this. I am in the middle of this. I am tango dancing in The Hague, every day.
Emilie Westerouen van Meeteren (23) completed the Master's programme in Communication Science (track Political Communication) in 2017.