Manuel has lived in 9 different countries so far, all made possible through CEMS! Currently working in Brussels as Communications External Consultant at the European Commission, he now fulfills his dream of contributing to the European project!
The Cems Club asked him…
Manuel, where do you currently live?
How is this city like?
I like to say that Brussels is horrible for tourists but amazing for its inhabitants. There's not a lot to see in terms of landmarks and historic places, but there is an overwhelming amount to do in terms of activities, events and its cultural scene. I have really warmed up to what is one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in Europe. I am a bit biased since I am half-Belgian and I have family here, but it is a friendly place for foreigners and also quite soft on your wallet when compared to all the surrounding European capitals!
So, what do you do in Brussels?
I work at the European Commission as Communications Consultant for the COSME Programme.
And how is it like to work in the public sector?
Working in the public sector might be slow-paced for a CEMSie, but for me I at least wake up with a clear clarity of the why I'm doing what I'm doing. Helping build the European project has been a dream of mine for quite a while so I'm happy to be contributing, especially in these trying times for the EU. The job conditions are great and I am working in an executive agency of the Commission, meaning that I work closely with grant beneficiaries and contractors, therefore the results of our investments as EU taxpayers. It really is a fascinating line of work where you get to improve your negotiation and project management skills but of course it also requires a lot of patience!
If you would have to describe CEMS in one sentence, what would it be?
A network for life.
What was your best experience at NOVA?
The day-to-day life. NOVA is for me one of the top universities in the world in terms of the lifestyle you can have as a student. This has to do of course with the weather conditions and Lisbon as the trendy, cosmopolitan city that it is, but also with the general environment of NOVA that tries to emulate a more American-style, practical approach whilst still challenging you.
And where did you go on exchange?
Tokyo! In terms of the cultural experience, for sure I had one of the most intense experiences possible and Japan as a country has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing, food and experiences. Our consortium was one of the smallest, if not the smallest, of the whole CEMS network, which was a good change from Nova where I feel I didn't really meet and engage with everyone in my class since we were so many. The university itself was really not demanding and I have to say I was a bit disappointed since I wasn't challenged at all (perhaps Nova prepared us so well) - but this of course has the upside that I was able to travel stress-free within and out of Japan and fully immerse myself in my exchange country. Doing the business project abroad was one of the coolest experiences of my life and that I will cherish forever. Working in a more traditional, Japanese company was really something straight out of a movie and I have to say I had the best possible time there, I'm even having deep Portuguese saudades and chills just by thinking about it!
What would you recommend every CEMSie?
The greatest thing about CEMS is not the coursework, the diploma you get at the end or even the exchange in itself - it's really the people you meet! You will soon realize that you were placed in a microcosmos of like-minded individuals and I have to say that the members of our network are always there for each other. This is so true that I even got my next job because of the CEMS Worldwide Facebook group and all the support and connections I was able to get through there! So my recommendation is to not always have your head in a PPT presentation, go for CEMS social events and meet all the amazing people around here - not only will you earn yourself friends for life, but you will create connections as resources that you can leverage for your professional career. Another recommendation is to be thankful for Vera and Carolina and not to complain about NOVA all the time - be proud of your home school, you will realize how much you miss it when you go on exchange!
What is your greatest achievement?
At the end of TUI's international graduate leadership programme, which I just got accepted in, so by age 29, I will have lived in 9 different countries - I realize this privilege is only possible because of CEMS!