From interns to NATO civilians

By Marina Papassarantis and Elma Mujollari 8/10/2018
Young people with innovative ideas, knowledge and passion are key to the Alliance’s mission.

Marina Papassarantis took part in the 2017 NCI Agency Internship Programme. Her hard work and dedication eventually landed her a job as a contractor.

And this year, the Belgian native was offered a role as a NATO International Civilian after competing for - and winning - the role of Service Support Officer in the Transmission Infrastructure Services division.

"I have always been fascinated by geopolitics, politico-military strategies and engineering – in particular, the ingenuity of human beings in the pursuit of progress and innovation for the common good. My desire to learn and to know these fields inspired my education and career path. 

Fresh out of the university after a Master's Degree in Political Science, I wanted to translate theory into practice, and most importantly, to challenge myself. I aimed at achieving two goals: my dream to work in NATO, a politico-military organization which secures peace in Transatlantic Europe, and, building extensive knowledge of IT in the NCI Agency through the understanding of the service-oriented approach of NATO Communications and Information Systems (CIS) support. My internship came as an ideal opportunity to start building my own professional experience in the organization.

Having obtained an internship position, I found myself in a team that encourages its members to share their opinions freely and recognizes individual contributions. Over the months, I was empowered to take on increasingly complex tasks and projects as well as to take initiative. This was a great source of motivation and encouragement for me to undertake a second Master's Degree in Management Science, and, to seek further opportunities within NATO after my internship.

Collaborating with colleagues from 29 NATO countries, and with the support of my close colleagues in the Transmission Infrastructure Services team, I have seen myself growing personally and professionally. Persevering, broadening my knowledge, as well as being part of a team - a family - has convinced me that I made the right decision in taking up this internship which has resulted in becoming a NATO International Civilian, almost a year and a half later."

 

Elma Mujollari took part in the 2016-2017 NCI Agency Internship Programme. Her team was so impressed with her performance that she was later hired as a contractor.

And this year, the talented Albanian native was offered a role as a NATO International Civilian after competing for - and winning - the role of Principal Assistant in the Operational Support division.

"I was completing an MBA at the University of Brussels in 2017, whilst embarking on an internship with the NCI Agency. Nowadays, achieving academic success is no longer enough, internships can give you an edge by fostering global competency, increasing your marketability and leading you towards a greater overall job satisfaction.

In my case, working as an intern allowed me to understand the flow of the organization and it also helped put my learning into context. I could observe the organization through the eyes of an MBA student. I felt like this experience helped me develop my knowledge and grow as a person, in a very relaxed and calm atmosphere. I am very grateful to all my colleagues for those early days.

Besides supporting day-to-day business operations, I was excited to work on my own projects. I could observe and research the dynamics of business management within my department, the Network Services and IT Infrastructure (NSII) Service Line.

The NCI Agency's internship programme brings together individuals with different demographic, social and educational backgrounds into a large diverse and multicultural organization. This builds a strong team, where ideas flow, innovation succeeds and results are acknowledged.  This internship provided me the platform to learn, going beyond academia.

I chose to continue working at NATO because I know my job directly contributes to the Alliance's role and responsibilities across the world. This is why I am happy I chose NATO instead of working in the traditional business world.  It makes me feel like through my work, I am contributing to people's lives."

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