‘One person can’t bring about sweeping changes – they need the support of everyone’ – the young interns hoping to change Moldova
December 9, 2022

‘One person can’t bring about sweeping changes – they need the support of everyone’ – the young interns hoping to change Moldova

If you want to change society, you have to start with yourself. Gheorghe Ciocoi and Olivia Plămădeală have done just that, taking part in an internship programme at the State Chancellery. Through their personal example, they showed that young people can be involved in the activities of public institutions and that their new ideas and vision are crucial to the development of the Republic of Moldova.

Gheorghe’s story

After four years of studying abroad, Gheorghe Ciocoi returned to Moldova to fulfil his dream, which he had had since he was 16 years old – to become a public servant. He enrolled for an internship programme organised by the European Union in partnership with the government of Moldova. After having been trained for two months, Gheorghe was employed by a public institution – the State Chancellery.

Gheorge admits that when he started his internship, he had no idea what the State Chancellery did. The training helped him to study all the workings of the state of the Republic of Moldova.

Gheorghe Ciocoi

“Before this internship, I had no idea what our government deals with. Moreover, none of my friends had any idea about the government’s functions either. When I came here, I found out that public servants perform a huge amount of work,” Gheorghe recalls.

He notes that such internship programmes provide a unique way to gain valuable experience.

“I became confident of my skills and showed that I was a fully-fledged employee who could perform his tasks in line with high professional standards,” says Gheorghe.

He adds that during his internship, he was amazed at the motivation of his colleagues. One of the skills he learned from them is to work until an assigned task is accomplished.

“I was so happy to be given a warm welcome at the very beginning of my internship. The public servants didn’t treat us like children who hindered them from working. It was a team of young people who were in tune with each other. If I was unclear about something, I could always ask for help,” he says.

The young man believes that everybody wants to see change in the country. That is why we need to strike a balance between the aspiration of young people to improve society with new ideas, and the experience of people who have already embarked on this path. Otherwise, we run the risk of destroying everything.

Gheorghe is one of the graduates of the State Chancellery internship program

“The state is a system, and each civil servant supports its operation. My key role is to ensure that the system works correctly. It is something of my personal sacrifice, but I’m ready to make this sacrifice. I have been preparing for this since I was 16,” Gheorghe underlines.

Gheorghe gives a simple answer to the question “What motivates you to move forward on this path?”: “One person can’t bring about sweeping changes – they can happen only if supported by everyone.”

The challenge which the young man has noticed and would like to address is related to the fact that the work of public servants is not visible and is not appreciated by society. According to Gheorghe, this challenge needs to be addressed at school.

“School teachers don’t talk about how the state works and the functions it performs. When I graduated from school, I had no idea of the parliament, government, the Executive Office of the President, etc. In my opinion, if we want to increase transparency, children should learn about how the state works while studying at school. All the information about the government transparency that I learned at the State Chancellery would also be useful for high school students. I believe that a special course could be included in the school curriculum to raise young people’s awareness of the functioning of our state,” says Gheorghe Ciocoi.

Taking part in an internship is excellent practice. It is one of the best ways for young people to understand how public administration is organised. However, young people show a lack of interest in being employed in the public sector. Low salaries seem to be one of the main obstacles. Nevertheless, according to Gheorghe, understanding the long-term benefits, including networking and growth and development perspectives, is also important for young people.

He also believes that youth can initiate changes in society.  

Gheorghe about his experience gained through the internship program

“One thing that young people can do now is to become part of their country’s history. Young people interested in being involved in public administration can bring about changes only if they have a proactive approach and believe their activities will be their mission. One person can’t introduce any major changes. However, the whole structure, in which everybody contributes, can do this.”

He also advises young people wishing to choose this path to become patient and goal-oriented team players. “Personal motivation is an important factor when it comes to employment in the public sector. Each person should have a feeling of satisfaction with their work,” he says.  

Now, Gheorghe dreams of becoming a representative of the Republic of Moldova at the European Commission.

Olivia’s vision

Olivia Plămădeală, a third-year student of the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova, has also undertaken a two-month internship at the State Chancellery. The young woman worked at the Communication Department.

Olivia Plămădeală

Olivia says that during the internship, having access to several departments helped her to learn useful information about laws and regulations and their development. Moreover, she was astonished at the open-minded approach of people working at government agencies.

“All my colleagues at the Communication Department, where I did the internship, were around my age. There was an incredible teamwork environment. Everybody was eager to help us. They asked questions and involved us in different events. Our colleagues always explained to us everything we didn’t understand. This amazed me most of all. I never thought I would find such an environment in our government,” the young woman says.

Olivia says the experience she gained helped her to develop new skills. She says that now she understands in which sector she would like to work. Moreover, she is sure that after receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degrees, she would like to be employed in a public institution.

Olivia believes that a lot of things in her country could be changed, but only if young people continue to implement projects launched by adults, introducing new vision and practices.

“The attitude toward civil servants is important. We need to work a lot on a management approach. Unfortunately, some Soviet-era approaches remain in some practices, and we have to combine them with present-day strategies. It is very important to adapt – each person is unique and requires an individual approach to increase their work efficiency. Slowly but surely, we keep working for this. I have already seen some changes that really occur at the State Chancellery, and this inspired me to come around to them,” says Olivia Plămădeală.

The young woman says the programme in which she was involved showed that her country has a future. She also says that if we want to make our country more prosperous, everybody has to contribute to this common goal.

Olivia shares her vision of how the current situation in the country could be changed

“Before my internship, I had never thought about how our state apparatus works. Two months of practice helped me to understand that young people’s vision and abilities are required. I believe that young people can introduce changes and new vision. We also have more time to implement new projects than our predecessors did,” says Olivia.

According to Olivia, young people need to understand from school how the government works – and not only in terms of structures or operating mechanisms, but also in the context of values that should come from the culture and traditions of the nation. “Organising a lot of internship programmes is a great solution, since not all young people understand the functions and mission of the government correctly,” she says.

That is why Olivia believes that understanding the principles of the government’s activities would have a positive effect on the system. This would help interns to consider the government as an integrated structure working for people.

Asked about her vision of the Republic of Moldova in ten years’ time, Olivia hopes that it will preserve its pro-European policy and will further develop its infrastructure, economy, education, and culture.

Between June and August 2022, 47 young men and women undertook an internship in more than 15 public institutions. They took part in a pilot internship programme launched by the European Union in partnership with the Moldovan government under the project ‘The European Union High-Level Advisers’ Mission’. You can find out more about the opportunities offered by the EU to the Republic of Moldova here.

Author: Petru Beșleaga

Article published in Romanian and Russian by Diez.md

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