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Graduates: Young Graduate Trainees

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ESA / About Us / Careers at ESA

ESA’s Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) Programme offers young graduates the opportunity to gain valuable on-the-job experience in the development and operation of space missions in an international and multicultural environment.

Our high-calibre YGT Programme lasts for one year and is a launch pad for many exciting professional opportunities within Europe’s space sector, renowned research institutes or, of course, ESA itself.

Every year in February, we publish around 100 YGT opportunities in science and engineering, information technology, natural and social sciences and business. Discover everything you need to know about the programme and the selection process on this page. Your path to space begins at ESA!

Who can apply?

To be eligible for the YGT Programme, you must be:

  • A student in the final year of a Master’s degree in engineering, sciences or business disciplines, or a recent graduate of a relevant Master's programme. 
  • A citizen of one of the following ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, 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, Slovakia and Slovenia as Associate Members, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus as European Cooperating States.

Please note that basic eligibility pre-screening questions regarding nationality and university degree are asked on completion of the ESA online application form.

YGTs are required to have completed their Master's degree by the time they start work at ESA. If you have completed a PhD or are about to complete one, please have a look at our Research Fellowship Programme, which is more in line with your academic background and level of qualification.

What we offer

The ESA Young Graduate Trainee Programme offers:

  • A unique professional experience as part of a team of scientists, engineers and business professionals from all over Europe, working together on inspiring space missions in an international, multicultural and friendly environment.
  • A great opportunity to gain extensive experience that could open doors to a career within Europe’s space sector.
  • A one-year contract (with possible extension for a second year) with 2.5 days' paid leave per month.
  • Excellent employment conditions, including a monthly salary exempt from national income tax in ESA Member States.
  • Travel expenses reimbursed at the beginning and end of the contract.
  • Expatriation allowance and/or an installation allowance on arrival if you move from another country. Excess luggage costs are also reimbursed.
  • Comprehensive health cover under ESA’s social security scheme. Please note that Young Graduate Trainees do not contribute to ESA’s pension scheme and may wish to opt for alternative solutions.

More about Life at ESA

Find out everything you need to know about life at ESA and work-life balance on our pages.

For more information about ESA sites, check out the ESA establishments.

Rewatch the information sessions

We held online information sessions for people interested in the YGT Programme to learn more and submit their questions. You can find the recordings of these sessions below.

Watch the recording

Hosted on CareerFairy

This information session investigated the various entry-level programmes available at ESA with a focus on the YGT Programme. The online event included a Q&A session.

Event recorded 2 February 2024

Watch the recording

Hosted on Twitch

Current ESA YGTs joined former YGT and host, Corentin Buti, on his Twitch channel La Capsule to deep dive into what it’s like to work as a YGT and for ESA. Participants were able to join a live chat and take part in the conversation.

Event recorded 7 February 2023

Watch the recording

Hosted on Webex

Four YGTs shared the work they do on ESA projects, their own personal experience of the application process and the tips and tricks they learned when applying to ESA. They were joined by ESA’s entry-level coordinator Andrew Kane.

Event recorded 16 February 2023

Recruitment process

How do I apply for a YGT opportunity?

  1. Explore our Young Graduate Trainee opportunities here.
  2. Select the opportunity that most interests you and fits best with your academic background and aspirations. As of 2024, each candidate can submit up to three applications. Should you apply to more vacancies, all your applications will be disregarded. If your profile is well-suited to another position, we will share it with the hiring manager.
  3. Register and create your candidate profile with your CV and motivation letter.
  4. Apply! You will be able to track the status of your application throughout the process.

Throughout the year, additional YGT posts may be published. Be sure not to miss a single chance to launch your career at ESA by signing up to receive job alerts.

Towards the end of the traineeship period, trainees are asked to submit a report on their activities and the accomplishments achieved during the year.

ESA YGT recruitment timeline:

February – March: Publication of YGT opportunities on Careers at ESA
March – May: Pre-selection and interviews of shortlisted candidates
June: Outcome of interviews and final selection made by ESA
September - October: Take up duty for successful candidates

Tip: set up a job alert to be informed as soon applications are open!

More information

Check out our Young Graduate Traineeship dedicated FAQ page.

Looking for more learning and hands-on opportunities?

ESA Academy is open to university students from undergraduate to PhD level coming from ESA Member States, Associated Member States and Cooperating States. ESA Academy collaborates with European universities, space institutes and national space agencies to offer exceptional learning and hands-on opportunities in a vast portfolio of programmes. ESA Academy is designed to complement academic education. Its objective is to enhance students’ educational experience and help them develop both practical and theoretical knowledge in various disciplines, ranging from space sciences to engineering, space medicine, spacecraft operations, project and risk management, product and quality assurance, standardisation and much more.

Learn more about ESA Academy.

Find your path at ESA

ESA offers a number of entry-level programmes targeting students (Master or PhD), recent graduates and young professionals, alongside its vacancies for experienced professionals. One of them could be your path to space! Quickly find outwhich programme could be the best fit for you by following the pathways at ESA on our entry-level flowchart.

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