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2020 student internships faqs
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Frequently asked questions

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ESA / About Us / Careers at ESA

Do you have questions that have not been answered on our Careers at ESA pages? Our FAQ is here to support you.

FAQ categories:

  1. Working at ESA
  2. Before applying
  3. During/after applying
  4. Entry-level programmes
  5. Meet us

Working at ESA

How many people work at ESA worldwide?
ESA employs around 2400 staff members across its various locations.

Where are ESA staff located?
The vast majority of staff are located at ESA's seven main establishments: ESA Headquarters in Paris, France; ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands; ESRIN in Frascati, Italy; ESOC in Darmstadt, Germany; ESAC in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain; ECSAT in Harwell, United Kingdom and ESEC in Redu, Belgium. ESA staff are also based at a number of sites, ground stations, offices and outposts worldwide.

What are the working languages of the Agency?
ESA’s working languages are English and French. Fluency in one of these languages is required and knowledge of another Member State language is considered to be an asset. In practice, however, most meetings are conducted in English while social and informal interactions can take place in almost any language.

What is ESA’s approach to diversity?
ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. To this end, we welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics.

Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace. The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process.
Learn more about diversity and inclusiveness at ESA here.

How do you support newcomers in moving to ESA?
If you need to move from your home country to work for ESA, you will receive a relocation support package. This includes support to help you find accommodation as well as the reimbursement of your removal expenses, plus an installation allowance to assist with the costs associated with settling into your new home. Other support is also provided, such as language courses. For more details, please look at our What we offer page.

What are the working hours at ESA?
ESA is a family-friendly environment offering flexible working arrangements and multiple benefits to its employees for greater work-life balance. As a general principle, ESA has a five-day, 40-hour working week. Learn more by clicking here.

What if I am recruited at an ESA establishment and I don’t speak the local language?
ESA offers language training to support the integration of new staff and their partners. More information on the various options can be provided to candidates during the selection process.

What facilities are available on-site?
You can find complete information on ESA’s on-site facilities on the ESA establishments page and the Life at ESA page.

Before applying

How do I apply for a post at ESA?
ESA vacancies are posted regularly on ESA's Careers website and can be found under 'Browse current vacancies', or directly from ESA’s recruiting website. To apply for a position, click on the ‘Apply now’ button at the bottom of the job description then register, fill in your candidate profile and upload the required documents and information. After submitting your application, you will be able to track its progress by logging into your profile.

How often are new jobs posted on your website?
New vacancies are posted regularly (often daily), so check the vacancies page frequently. You can also set up a job alert so that you are automatically informed of new positions that are suited to your profile – click here to find out how to do so.

Can I send an open application?
Due to the extremely high volume of applications, we receive each year, we are unable to process open applications. Instead, we encourage you to monitor our Careers website for suitable vacancies and/or sign up for a job alert and then apply when you see a vacancy of interest to you.

How long do vacancies stay open for?
Once published, external vacancy notices remain on the careers site until the closing date, which is usually four weeks from the date of issue.

Can I apply for more than one job at a time?
You are welcome to apply for any job for which you are qualified. For our trainee positions, we strongly encourage you to take the time to identify the opportunity that is most in line with your aspirations and background before applying, as some of our trainee programmes do limit the total number of applications from one person during a particular selection round.

I am not currently working in the space sector, but I would like to work at ESA. Can I still apply for a position?
If your background and profile are in line with the competencies outlined in the job description, your application is welcome. We have opportunities in science, engineering and business and administration areas (legal, facility management, communication, HR etc.). For some positions at ESA, a certain level of knowledge or experience of the space sector will be required and for others, it will be an asset. Where this is the case, it will be clearly mentioned in the requirements. If it is not mentioned, then we would certainly encourage you to apply. There are many roles at ESA where non-space related knowledge and experience can be an asset.

Are there any opportunities to work remotely?
Generally speaking, ESA positions require you to relocate to the location indicated in the vacancy. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, student internships published for 2022 will be offered remotely.

I am not a national of one of the ESA Member States. Can I still apply?
Unfortunately, this is not possible. ESA is only able to consider applications from nationals of ESA Member States, Associate Member States or Cooperating States (find the full list here). These countries are listed in our vacancies.

I live in a country that is not an ESA Member State or Cooperating State. Can I still apply for a position at ESA?
Your country of residence is not the determining factor. To work at ESA, you must be a citizen of one of the following ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Nationals from Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia, as Associate Members, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovakia as European Cooperating States.

Where can I find vacancies for a specific ESA establishment?
Each job description states where the job will be located. If you cannot find a vacancy notice for your preferred establishment, it means there are no current vacancies there. The drop-down menu covers the main ESA establishments. If you are looking for a vacancy in a location that is not listed, such as EAC in Porz-Wahn or ESEC in Redu, enter the establishment name into the “key words” box. We recommend that you take the same approach when setting up your alert.

What is the difference between a permanent post and an advance recruitment post?
A permanent contract is initially for four years with a possibility of an extension up to the ESA retirement age of 63. Contracts for advance recruits are for two years and it is the intention to offer a permanent contract at the end of the advance recruitment contract.

What kind of working conditions and benefits can I expect?
In addition to an international and multicultural working environment, ESA offers an attractive remuneration and benefits package.

I don’t have a Master’s degree, what are the opportunities for me at ESA?
All professional roles at ESA require a Master as a minimum. Some require a PhD. However, for administrative supporting positions, such as secretaries or administrative assistants, the educational requirements are less stringent.
The ESA trainee programmes start with opportunities targeting students studying for a Master. More information about the various trainee programmes can be found here.

The detailed educational requirements for each position are specified in the vacancy text. Have a look at our vacancies and set up an alert to be informed as soon as an opportunity is published. In addition, the ESA Academy offers exciting short-term learning opportunities such as hands-on space projects and training programmes for students from Bachelor to PhD level.

I would like to become an astronaut. How should I proceed and what qualifications do I need?
Information on how to become an astronaut can be found under How to Become an Astronaut, or by visiting the Human & Robotic Exploration FAQ page.

The application deadline has passed. Can I still apply?
No, applications sent after the deadline (00:00 CET) will not be considered. The "Submit" button will automatically disappear at that time and you will no longer be able to submit your application.

Can I have a copy of the job description?
You can find the job description at the bottom of the confirmation email you received upon submission of your application for the position.

How many candidates will be interviewed?
This depends on various factors and therefore the exact number of interviewees is not known until the end of the candidate selection phase.

I am an ESA Member State national, but do not yet have my passport. Can I apply once I have received it?
Passport and/or ID card details are required to apply for an ESA position. You can apply for an ESA staff position once you are in possession of a valid ID card or passport issued by an ESA Member State.

Can I apply for more than one position at the same time?
You are welcome to apply for any job for which you are qualified. For our trainee positions, we strongly encourage you to take the time to identify the opportunity that is most in line with your aspirations and background before applying, as some of our trainee programmes do limit the total number of applications from one person during a particular selection round.

During/after applying

What measures are in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis and how has the recruitment process been affected?
ESA vacancies are published on the ESA recruiting site as usual and interviews are taking place remotely via Microsoft Teams or WebEx. In compliance with national guidelines, teleworking is currently encouraged as much as possible and most ESA employees are now working from home. All meetings are taking place remotely and external visitors to all ESA sites are restricted until further notice.

Will you confirm receipt of my application?
All applications receive an automatic acknowledgement of receipt. Once you have applied, you will be able to track the status of your application by logging into your account. All candidates, whether they are selected for interview or not, are informed by email about the outcome of their application.

What happens to my online application?
After the submission deadline has passed, all applications are evaluated and a shortlist of suitable candidates is compiled. Applicants on the shortlist will be invited to attend a pre-screening discussion or an interview.

How do I submit my application?
To apply for a vacancy, you first need to create an account. To do so, go to Explore Career Opportunities and click on “Sign in”, then on “Create an account”. Once your account is set up, you can apply for any job listed on the career opportunities page.

I am unable to submit my application, what should I do?
Please reach out to contact.human.resources@esa.int.

In which language should I complete my application?
You should submit your application in one of ESA’s two official languages, which are English and French. Since most of ESA selection interviews take place in English, we recommend you also apply in English.

Who will interview me?
You will be interviewed by a selection board that includes the recruiting manager(s), an external board member from another directorate and an HR representative. The names of the interview board members will be given to you at the start of the interview.

How can I check the status of my application?
You can always check the status of your application by signing into the ESA Careers website and opening the link to Jobs Applied. If your status is “New Application - Reviewing all applications”, we are still assessing the applications received and information on the outcome of your application is not yet available. Once this step is complete, we will notify you about the outcome via email.

I have not been selected for an interview. Can I have feedback?
Due to the high number of applications ESA receives, we are unable to give you personalised feedback. However, the decision does not prejudge any applications you may wish to present for future opportunities at ESA. We therefore encourage you to visit the ESA Careers page to check out our vacancies and set up a job alert to stay informed of new positions opening up.

Why have I been rejected when I fulfil all the requirements?
If you have not been shortlisted for an interview, that does not mean you did not meet the requirements of the job. It does, however, mean that there were other candidates who better matched the profile we were seeking for that role.

I do not feel comfortable providing you with the personal documents you request. Do you have adequate data protection procedures?
Protection of personal data is of great importance to ESA. We strive to ensure a high level of protection as required by the ESA Framework on Personal Data Protection. ESA implements appropriate measures to preserve the rights of data subjects, to ensure the processing of personal data for specified and legitimate purposes under conditions protecting the confidentiality, integrity and safety of personal data and generally to implement the principles set out in the Personal Data Protection Framework, available at: Highlights of ESA Rules and Regulations.

How long should the CV and cover letter be?
The length of your CV and cover letter is your decision. As a guideline, however, we would encourage you to send us no more than two to three pages for the CV, and no more than one page for the cover letter.

Who should I send my cover letter to and what should it include?
As all applications are online, there is no need to mention an addressee; you can send your cover letter to ESA Recruitment if no name has been provided. The cover letter is an important supporting document providing additional information about you that might not appear or be sufficiently highlighted in your CV. You should describe your professional competence and personal reasons for being interested in ESA and which are specifically related to the job you are applying for.

Can I make a change to my application after I have submitted it?
You have the right to update or correct your basic data (i.e., address, telephone number or email address) and profile at any time. However, information relating to a specific application and the related vacancy’s eligibility and selection criteria may only be updated or corrected before the closing date of that vacancy.

You can update your application by logging into your account. If the application deadline has passed, please get in touch with contact.human.resources@esa.int.

I have been invited for an interview, but I am unable to attend on the proposed date. Can it be rescheduled?
Given the high volume of recruitment at ESA and that ESA interviews are conducted by a panel of at least four people who all need to be available at the same time, it may not be possible to reschedule your interview. If you are unable to attend your interview, please let your recruitment contact person know as soon as possible and why. We will do what we can to accommodate your constraints, but cannot give any guarantees.

How do I fill in the language section on the application form? How are "fair", "fluent", "good" and "poor" defined?
Mother tongue – Native speaker
Fluent – High level of language proficiency
Good – Advanced level
Fair – Intermediate level. You can handle a variety of uncomplicated communicative tasks and social situations
Poor – Elementary level. Knowledge of some vocabulary, ability to say simple phrases or sentences, some difficulty understanding native speakers, elementary reading and writing skills

I tried to apply and although there were still a few minutes before the deadline, the application was already closed.
We strongly recommend to all candidates that they avoid submitting their applications at the very last minute in case of possible technical issues. However, should you encounter a problem, please take a screenshot of the page and send it in an email to: contact.human.resources@esa.int.

I have two ESA Member State nationalities. How should I rank them in my application?
If you have the nationality of an under-represented or balanced country, we advise you to give that as your first nationality.

Is there a time limit for filling in the application form?
There is no time limit for filling in your application. You can save your application as a draft and return to it later if you cannot complete it in one go. We recommend that you regularly click on the "Save" button to avoid losing any changes.

What is the official deadline for an application?
The deadline for submitting your application will be the closing date at midnight, Central European Time.
The official deadline for applications will be shown in:
- the list of job opportunities on ESA’s career website
- the header of each application
Please note that applications cannot be accepted once the official deadline has passed.

What checks will be conducted as part of the basic screening before appointment?
Basic screening of successful candidates is conducted as part of the selection process by an external background screening service in accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures. The level of screening is determined by the role into which you are being recruited at ESA, and by your country of residence or country of nationality. It might include: employment verification, verification of highest level of education, statement of good conduct and reference checks.

Student internships and entry-level programmes

Does ESA run any activities for students?
ESA organises a number of workshops, courses and competitions for students of all ages. If you would like to know more, take a look at the high schools and higher education sections of our Education site.

I am a high school/secondary school student looking for a summer job. What possibilities are there for me at ESA?
ESA’s programmes are open to university-level students and above. Short-term training programmes for high-school or secondary-school students are offered by ESA Education.

I recently graduated from university. Can I apply for a post at ESA?
Yes, ESA has a Young Graduate Trainee Programme for recent Master’s degree graduates. This one-year training opportunity is designed to give you your first professional experience and to help prepare you for future employment in the space sector. More information can be found on the Young Graduate Trainee Programme page.

What is the difference between the National Trainee Programme and the Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) Programme?
The main difference is that the National Trainee Programme placements are organised by the individual Member States participating in the programme. National Trainees are employed by the governments of their respective countries, with ESA playing the role of host. The YGT programme, on the other hand, is an ESA programme. It is open to nationals of all of ESA Member States and the trainees are employed by ESA.

How is the Junior Professional Programme different from the Young Graduate Trainee Programme or National Trainee Programme?
Like the Young Graduate Trainee Programme and National Trainee Programme, you need to be a citizen of an ESA Member State, Associate Member State or Canada as a Cooperating State and have a Master’s degree to be eligible to apply for the vacancies. However, the Junior Professional Programme is different in that it is open to professionals with two to three years of experience. So, you must have accumulated a certain amount of professional experience after graduation before applying to a JP position, which is not the case for the YGT Programme or the National Trainee Programme. Another key difference is the employment conditions: the Junior Professional Programme offers an ESA staff contract for a fixed-term period of three years, with the perspective of conversion to a permanent contract upon completion of the programme.

I am a national of a country with a National Trainee Programme, can I still apply for the YGT Programme?
Yes, you can.

I am a university student. Can I carry out a placement at ESA as part of my degree course?
Yes, ESA offers a number of student placements, normally for periods of three to six months, in both technical and non-technical areas of the Agency. Priority is given to Master’s students in their final years of studies. For more details and information on how to apply, look at Student internships.

I have just obtained my PhD, can I carry out my research topic at ESA?
ESA has a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme. For more information, see Research Fellowships.

Which educational studies are most suitable for work at ESA?
ESA is an organisation devoted to science and technology in the space domain. Most technical jobs therefore require a Master’s degree in an engineering and/or scientific discipline. Some positions require a PhD.

Where can I find the student internship opportunities?
These opportunities are usually published in November and remain open for one month. Once published, you can browse the opportunities on our recruitment website by clicking here.

Will student internships take place remotely in 2022?
Unfortunately, due to the many uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, student internships in 2022 will only take place remotely from your place of residence. This remains the case even if you live near one of the ESA establishments. Only for very rare exceptions (e.g. where laboratory access is essential) will opportunities be offered on site.

Student internships: can I do my Master’s thesis at ESA?
Once you are selected for a student internship at ESA, and if agreed with your tutor, it is possible to write your Master's thesis while at ESA.

My questions about student internships at ESA are not answered here. What should I do?
Please click here for detailed FAQs on student internships.

I am applying for an internship/YGT opportunity where filling in the “Current and relevant Previous Job” section is mandatory, but I have no previous work experience. What should I write there?
If you have no previous work experience, please fill in the Job section with your university studies.

I am about to complete my Master’s degree. Can I still apply for a post if a Master’s degree is a requirement?
You need to have a Master’s degree at the time of starting work for ESA. If applying for a YGT opportunity, you need to be able to present us with your Master’s degree no later than three months after you have started working at ESA.

Meet us

Is there a way to meet and exchange with ESA professionals?
Of course! You can come and meet us at careers events. Check out our events page here.

I need to speak to someone in ESA's Human Resources Department about jobs and/or training opportunities. The questions I have are not answered in this FAQ. What should I do?
Email your questions to contact.human.resources@esa.int.

If your question is one that is asked often, we will add it to this list of FAQs.

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