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My experience at CAdFE: Testimony of Arthur Fertier, intern at CAdFE

As my internship with CAdFE is ending, I've been asked to give an account of my 5-month experience in Tallinn. I want to share my impressions of the country, what I achieved during my internship and what this experience has taught me overall.

Violaine Champetier de Ribes, President of CAdFE, submitted all these questions to me.

Arthur Ferthier at the center, Jean-Marc Salsa, CAdFE's general secretary, t Violaine Champetier de Ribes, CAdFE's president.

How did you choose your internship?

I chose to apply to CAdFE for an internship because, being interested in international relations, I wanted to learn more about economic and trade relations between France and other European countries, particularly the Baltic States. It also seemed like a good opportunity to understand the relationship between the public and private sectors internationally, contribute in some way to France's economic development abroad, develop a new vision of entrepreneurship and discover a new culture.

Can you tell us more about your studies and what subjects you'd like to specialise in?

I went through a business school and a faculty of philosophy before arriving at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Rennes in 2021. Since then, I've followed a fairly general curriculum, focusing mainly on social sciences, economics, law, history and foreign languages. I chose to focus on the international relations aspect whenever possible during my degree, which I continued to do when I went to study in Australia, at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, during the second half of 2022. Back in France, I started looking for an internship that would match my interest in international relations and I came to Estonia to discover and contribute to CAdFE's activities.

Next September I'm going to start the Masters programme in International Relations at Sciences Po Rennes and for now I want to continue along this path.

Do you already have an idea of what profession you would like to pursue?

I don't have a very precise idea yet, but I would like to work in positions that require a certain amount of expertise in international relations. This could be as a consultant or international development officer in the private sector, or as head of an international relations unit in a public administration, for example. I may also be interested in positions in the diplomatic service or in international organisations.

What did you think of Estonia when you arrived last March?

Like a lot of people in France, I knew very little about Estonia, even though I already knew a few key facts about the history of the country and the region in general. One of the ideas I had when I arrived was that of a country with a cold climate where it might be more difficult to integrate socially than in other countries. These preconceptions are not entirely wrong, but they do need to be nuanced obviously. Compared with the capitals of the other Baltic countries, Tallinn gave me the impression of a quiet city with a well-preserved architectural heritage. And it was also when I was doing a bit of research on Estonia that I discovered its policy at the forefront of digitalisation, which greatly appealed to my curiosity.

What was your biggest surprise?

I have to admit that I haven't really experienced any 'shock' by living in Estonia, even if I have noticed some big differences. What perhaps surprised me the most was the ease with which all sorts of administrative formalities are carried out: in less than two hours all the papers I needed for my stay were obtained and I had my transport card to get around Tallinn free of charge.

In their daily lives, Estonians are much quieter than the inhabitants of any country I've visited before, and at weekends Tallinn is an extremely quiet city, which I find rather enjoyable.

Above all, I discovered a city and a country in full development and a completely different view of Europe, which was very interesting.

What did you learn from your internship?

This internship has taught me a lot on many levels. First of all, I was able to discover how an association works, the 'chamber of commerce' model and gain a better understanding of all the resources needed to develop a network of entrepreneurs, create business opportunities and promote companies from the French-speaking world in Estonia. The most rewarding part was certainly the people I got to meet through the activities we carried out with CAdFE. I had the chance to talk to entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, with very varied profiles and activities, but I was also able to talk to officials and representatives from several countries, including Estonia and France. I also had the opportunity to attend conferences that gave me a better understanding of economic issues in Estonia, as well as an outside perspective on French economic policy. In terms of skills, I was able to write a lot of articles and reports, use a lot of communication tools and speak English on a daily basis, which was very beneficial for me and will undoubtedly be useful in the future.

What did you like less? Why or why not?

Overall, this internship has been a positive experience for me, so there aren't many downsides to mention here. The 'least enjoyable' periods, if you can put it that way, were mainly the times when we were faced with difficulties in organising our events, whether due to the format or sometimes the difficulty of getting enough people together. But these things are part of the job and shouldn't be discouraging, as they are always resolved in the end.

How will this internship help you in the future?

This internship was useful because it gave me the experience I lacked to be able to think more precisely about my career plan. I was also able to maintain and acquire skills in many areas that I will certainly need to use again. I was also able to meet a number of professionals, building up a network that I could potentially call on in the future. I also learnt a lot about the economy and history of the country and the region, which will be very useful for my future studies. This internship has been enriching, and I think I'll leave more competent and informed.

"I would like to thank all the people who helped to make this placement so interesting, and especially the members of the CAdFE board who supported and guided me throughout this period."



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