I would like to share with you 2 experiences of me + my friend. Just to warn you, that Brussels is not always as perfect as it might seem and you might get very badly disappointed - so be careful!
- After my internship at the European Commission I was offered a really well sounding internship in the private sector. The job was very interesting, not well paid, but with good perspectived of a raise, with a promise that the contract would be turned into a permanent work contract. I immediately accepted and started working there, which turned out to be a horrible mistake. The tasks were idiotic, no knowledge and experience needed, just automatic work. The boss was incompetent - he was hiring and firing people one by one - all stagiaires - working almost for free.
I know the girl just before me was offered a full time permanent contract. So she quit her former job, went on the first day of the new work to this company to sign a contract, this is when she was told that they will not sign a contract with her, they can only offer her an internship for 500 Euros. And the girl just quit her job for that!!! She stayed 3 days and left, I was the next one to come (of course I didn't know about her until I met totally by chance her former colleague).
We were a couple of female stagiaires, supposed to work a lot for very little, work was pretty menial and stupid. I quit very quickly as I got a job at the European Commission back then, I know that all the other girls (they only hired girls - maybe they fight less for their rights) were fired afterwards - even though they all had a promise of a permanent contract and a significant raise in the beginning. With me it also ended with a lawyer, luckily I got what I wanted and left.
I am sure many people went through that, as the company only hired stagiaires to keep their costs low. I will not publish the name here, but I see their offers regularly on Eurobrussels and EurActiv and they all seem very attractive, so I am sure they already managed to abuse tens of young people in Brussels.
- My friend after finishing an internship at the European Commission was offered a1 year internship with a consultancy - great conditions, interesting job, well paid. She was very excited about that, went back to her country to organise all the procedures (she's from outside EU). She was in permanent contact with the company, everything was perfect. She spent over a month and A LOT OF money organising a visa, documents for the work permit and the like, of course keeping her accomodation in Brussels. When she came back, her future employee told her that he will not employ her, as she needs a work permit and he doesn't want to bother organising it. He didn't know before she needed a permit - that was his reasoning at least. Her explanations that she already organised everything and the company would need to just fulfil minor formalities were not listened to - the girl left in tears back to her homeland, with a huge debt and never came back.
-There are more stories like that, especially from the fresh European Commission trainees that I knew/know who really want to stay after their traineeshpip. Many stay in Brussels searching for jobs during months, many have to leave as at some point they can't afford living in Brussels without employment, some decide to do traineeships where they are badly abused, some do traineehips for almost no pay, or for literally no pay (many companies search for 'unpaid trainees'), others do consecutive traineeships during 2-3 years and more, as they are unable to find permanent jobs. Most of them at some point leave Brussels, pretty disappointed.
Of course there are also many success stories, I just would like to warn people to be careful, as the trainee market in Brussels is sometimes really very cruel.