During the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work became the new normal, and so did virtual internships. Louis Ducarme, a 30-year-old law graduate from Belgium specialized in EU Law started his internship with the Regional Office for Europe in Brussels in March, just two weeks before the country and the regional office went into full lockdown.
“As a person with disabilities, I knew that I was considered a person at risk,” says Louis,
“but I was relieved that I could continue my internship virtually.” It turned out to be a great professional and a personal challenge:
“I had recently graduated, and before the internship I did not really have the opportunity to work, so it was a good test for me whether this was at all possible. I was worried that might not be good enough. Because of my disability I write slower and my typing pace is also slower. But I managed and everything worked well.”
Louis contributed to the monthly newsletter of the Regional Office –
Keeping the Pulse of the European Union -, and carried out research on climate change and human rights. He also assisted with collecting information on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the rights of older persons and persons with disabilities. It’s no coincidence that, in his contribution to the development of the UN Human Rights Office’s Disability Rights Policy and Action Plan, Louis called for accessible job opportunities as the gateway for genuine inclusion.
“The main challenge of working remotely was that I did not see the colleagues every day at work, because I really enjoy the social aspects of being part of a team.
I was so happy to work in an international context, with colleagues from different nationalities speaking different languages.”
Despite the unusual context of COVID-19, Louis is enthusiastic about his internship - an experience, he says, that was not only a unique opportunity to learn about human rights challenges in Europe and in the world, but also to gain confidence in himself.