Career Centre

Former Erasmus Student: from Würzburg to the DGAP


Alumnus John-Joseph Wilkins had come to Wuerzburg from London as Erasmus Student. Currently he's working as an Associate Fellow at the German Council of Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin.

Portrait of John Joseph Wilkins
Photo: John Joseph Wilkins (Bild: KENTON THATCHER)

Alumnus John-Joseph Wilkins had come to Wuerzburg from London as Erasmus Student. He studied Political Sciences and German in Wuerzburg. Having worked for the EU Institute of for Security Studies in Brussels and Paris for 10 years, he is now an Associate Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin and an independent communications consultant.

John, how would you describe a usual working day?
I spend most of the day correcting, reviewing and promoting the work of others. It is my job to make sure that experts are seen in the best possible light and those policymakers take note of content through good style and appropriate language. For this improving one’s own style and learning new techniques to teach others is a must. In my other role as a researcher, I read a lot to keep myself abreast with the both historical and the latest political developments, particularly in South Asia. I then conduct desk research and begin the arduous task of writing myself.   

Why did you decide to start a career at the European Union?
I began learning German when I was about 12 and decided that I wanted a career in which I could make best use of my language skills. The EU also seemed like a natural choice given my personal interest in politics, and the desire to bring nations closer together, particularly in terms of foreign and security policy.

What do you like the most about your job and why?
I enjoy the fast-paced environment of text production and the sense of success once tight deadlines are met. The ability to work with different nationalities is also one of my favourite aspects, as every day remains a school day in terms of what you learn about one another.

What skill is absolutely necessary in your job and why?
In order to be successful in my job I need to be able to work on and complete multiple tasks simultaneously. This means jumping from topic to topic, or functionally: from websites to English language editing and social media. In this sense, flexibility and organisation are the key attributes that one must possess.

What main hybrid security challenges are facing the European Union and its members and how do we tackle them?
In terms of hybrid threats, I think we are seeing the biggest threat emerge in the digital realm: in terms of not only competition with major players such as China or concerns over data protection and 5G networks, but also a kind of “cybrid” warfare that is playing out behind the scenes between both states and non-state actors. That could have severe consequences for average European citizens if not handled correctly.

What is your most fond memory of Wuerzburg?
My fondest memories of Wuerzburg often involve the many festivals that take place there: from the Mozart Festival to the Kiliani Fair and the Weinfest, there are so many fun and enriching experiences. I must admit I do not miss climbing the large hill that leads to the university from downtown though!