Hertie in Brussels: Students visit alumni in the European capital

The school's futurEU Initiative gave students the chance to meet alumni working in the heart of the EU and to gain insights into the European institutions.

On 3-5 April, the Hertie School's futurEU Initiative, a student club that connects students interested in European governance, recently organised a three-day trip to Brussels for 19 of its student members. This immersive field trip, supported by the Jacques Delors Centre, aimed to connect the students with alumni working in the heart of the European Union and gain insights into the workings of EU institutions.

With support from the alumni affairs office, the students were linked with members of the Brussels Alumni Chapter, many of whom volunteered to welcome students into their workplace, offering insights into their daily roles and tracing their professional journeys from being Hertie School master's students to working as professionals at renowned institutions in the European capital.


“Study trips are an important part of an international education, and with such a diverse student body, this trip created so many unique opportunities for learning. It was amazing to see so many different parts of the Hertie community come together to make it happen!” 
Christine Cepelak (MPP 2024)

Alumni exchange with students about working at EU institutions

During the three-day trip, students had the opportunity to engage with eight alumni hosts across various sectors:

  • Olimpia Parje (MPP 2016) recounted her tenure at the Permanent Representation of Romania to the EU, which she helped steer through pivotal events like Brexit and COVID. She also supported a lively discussion about the strategic pillars of Romanian foreign policy.
  • At American Express, Hendrik Frank (MPP 2017) introduced students to the fundamentals of lobbying within the Brussels landscape. After the presentation, students were divided into teams representing different interest groups focussing on advancing specific interests.
  • Cecilia Trasi (MPP 2021), founder of the futurEU Initiative in 2019, showcased her work on green diplomacy and solar panel manufacturing at Bruegel. She also recalled specific projects and professors from Hertie that still help her in her work today.
  • Damian Boeselager (MPP 2018) and Rina Hajdari (MIA 2018) welcomed students to the European Parliament (EP), sharing insights on their experiences organising the Volt party. They also hosted the group for lunch at the Parliament cafeteria. 
  • Juri Wiedemann (MPP 2022) detailed his role as Associate EU Policy & Public Affairs at the legal firm FGS, where he leverages his legal and policy background to tackle diverse communication challenges.
  • Harmke Kruithof (MPP 2014) hosted students at DG NEAR in the European Commission, where she discussed navigating foreign policy scenarios in the Middle East before focussing on Ukrainian accession. 
  • Ilan Masson (MIA 2020) shed light on his work at DG ECHO in the European Commission's crisis response centre and his participation in the highly competitive Junior Professionals Programme, designed for young Europeans passionate about public service. 


“The visit to the Permanent Representation gave a lot of insight into Council decision-making and EU foreign policy, which informs my understanding of the EU as well as my career choices.” 
Floris Vissering (MPP 2024)


Speed networking and panel discussion on the EU elections

On the second day of the trip, the alumni affairs office organised a student-alumni networking event hosted at the Goethe-Institut Brussels, featuring a speed networking session and an alumni panel. This also presented a great opportunity to bring students and alumni together to celebrate #20YearsHertieSchool. Nearly 15 alumni took part in the speed networking session and shared insights with students in a more informal setting. 

Following this, Nena Grceva, Director of Alumni Affairs, opened a panel discussion that brought together four alumni from different fields to delve into the intricacies of the 2024 European elections, exploring its prospects and potential policy implications. The panel featured alumni Matteo de Bellis (EMPA 2023), Human Rights and Migration Researcher at Amnesty International; Matthias Ecke (EMPA 2021), Member of the EP; Laia Garrido (MPP 2017), Policy Advisor at the EP; and Cecilia Trasi, Energy and Climate Policy Research Analyst at Bruegel. The discussion was moderated by Hertie School student Louise Moberg (MIA 2025). The panellists discussed some of the most pressing issues that will shape the results of the upcoming EU elections next June, including societal and gender polarisation, the rise of the far right, youth political participation, and climate change.


“The biggest takeaway for me was the alumni's commitment to #HertieLove. They put in time and effort to coordinate these visits at their workplaces just to help current students understand what it means to practically work on the topics they learn about in the classroom.” 
Architha Menon (MPP 2025)


With the participation of 20 dedicated alumni volunteers and a total of 60 Hertie community members, the futurEU Initiative fostered strong connections between alumni and students. The initiative exemplifies the collaborative spirit of the Hertie network and aligns perfectly with our mission of promoting lifelong learning and engagement among our students and alumni.

See the full three-day programme and a photo gallery of the trip.