Alumni Series Interview with Martin Takács, 2018 Széll Kálmán Public Policy Fellow
When Martin started his Széll Kálmán Fellowship with us back in 2018, he was halfway through his Master’s program at the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs. He was a scholar of international energy policy, with a genuine interest in the oil and natural gas markets, as well as renewable energy policies. Martin’s internship experiences at the time included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, ExxonMobil, and MET.
His fellowship through The Fund for American Studies’ Summer program in Washington DC consisted of taking two courses at George Mason University. He also completed an internship at LNG Allies, a Washington-based non-profit, which unites and leads the U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) community. We caught up with him recently to see where his journey has taken him since his Széll Kálmán Fellowship experience.
Martin, where are you on your career path now?
Following the completion of my studies at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) of Sciences Po in July 2019, I have begun my full-time professional career. I am working now as an Accredited Parliamentary Assistant (APA) for MEP András Gyürk in the European Parliament focusing on the policies covered by the Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.
Which achievements are you most proud of since we met?
In the academic field, I consider the accomplishment of my Master’s degree in International Energy with “cum laude” (top 12% in my program) as my biggest achievement since my US experience. Professionally I am very much proud of the fact that as an APA I am able to serve my country Hungary even from Brussels.
How did your experience with HIF in the US help you reach your goals?
My Széll Kálmán Public Policy Fellowship was definitely a milestone on the road towards reaching my goals. First, it provided me the opportunity to live in Washington DC, the epicenter of U.S. and world politics. I highly value and utilize this practical experience while residing in the “Brussels Bubble”. Second, I have learned a lot throughout those two months both academically and professionally. Finally, it helped me to deepen and broaden my professional network which is the most valuable factor when somebody chooses to pursue a career in the field of social sciences.
What struggles/challenges did you have to overcome to reach your goals?
I believe I had to face the kind of struggles that almost every student/young professional has to face at some time. For me the challenge was threefold. First, I needed to find out what I want to study exactly. Here Sciences Po’s Master in International Energy was an excellent choice, and it continues to be as PSIA is now 2nd in the world in Politics & International Studies according to the 2020 QS World University Rankings by Subject. Second, I had to plan my professional path until my first full-time job. At this phase finding the right internships, acquiring the practical skills needed, as well as getting known to people from and by who I can learn and develop were the biggest struggles. Finally, I had to maximize the gains of the previous two steps to achieve my professional goals. This is a challenge not to be underestimated, as I had to prove tó myself that I was the right/best candidate to the position(s) I applied to.
What impact did your US experience have on your overall journey?
Absolutely a positive one. I was undergoing a difficult period during my time in the US, searching for a compulsory internship for my degree. Before summer 2018 things looked rather complicated. However, the 2 months I spent in the US have helped me to look at it from a different perspective.
“After returning from Washington DC all the goals I have set have been achieved so it can be confidently stated that my journey towards a “cum laude” at Sciences Po and a position in the European Parliament has begun during the Széll Kálmán Fellowship. I am immensely grateful to HIF for the opportunity and trust it placed in me.”
What are your plans for the future?
Professionally the situation is more or less clear, I intend to work in the European Parliament at least until the end of the current mandate (July 2024). Meanwhile, of course, I would like to continue to develop, as well as to gain new skills, which can be useful for the future. Personally, it is harder to say. Developing my cooking skills is definitely on the shortlist, but I need to put more effort into this.
What words of advice do you have for future recruits?
First, I would rely on the slogan used by fans of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers: “Trust the process.” Things may look difficult at a certain point, however if someone has goals he/she through hard work will formulate the plan and path to make the situation better. Second, be proactive and open to opportunities and to people, as well. Finally, keep a healthy balance between the two aforementioned aspects as both are needed to succeed.
What books are currently on your reading list?
I am reading now Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate and occasionally some chapters from Kissinger’s Diplomacy.