Student Experience: An Internship at the French Ministry of Defence

by Alexia Durand De Bousingen

“Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to work for the delegation of information and communication of the French Ministry of Defence in Paris for two months. I heard about this internship through a friend who had worked there for three months the previous year and recommended me.

The importance of their task, dealing with the safety of the population and their soldiers, is something that quickly became evident, especially in a time where France is participating in major exterior missions to an extent that has not been seen in decades, as well as having to deal with a strong threat on national territory and thus helping the interior ministry to protect the population against terrorist attacks.

I was working for the spokesperson office of the ministry, which is in charge of preparing the press conferences held every week and the Actu Défense, a summary of this week’s news of the ministry and the different armies, with an update of the different missions and generally a couple of articles on more specific topics. They also have to create and constantly update files on every possible subject related to defence, to be able to answer the questions of journalists, and prepare the communication strategy.

Every day, I was in charge of the institutional watch to gather and summarize all relevant news on the official websites (French senate, NATO, EU…) and send it out within the ministry. In addition to that, I oversaw working on a few bilateral relations files and I was helping with other tasks depending on everyday news.

It is crucial for the communication and information department to be well-informed in order to be able to predict any topic that might come up, so every day we would have a meeting to analyse what was being said in the media to be able to adjust the strategy and respond with official statements.

Overall, it was a very good experience because I managed to learn a lot, both related to defence and directly applicable skills, which working within an institutional setting taught me. It was also a great way to discover the military world, which was new to me. It’s a unique work environment, since even in the most administrative parts, the majority of the employees are from the military and often change affectations, which means always working with people from very different backgrounds.”

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