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Interview with Eurospeak Erasmus Project Manager, William Barker

Q1: How did you get into this line of work?

WB: Well, I don’t think anybody sets out to do this. Erasmus is relatively new. In my case, it found me rather than the other way around. I think that’s true for many people.

Q2: What would be a typical day?

WB: It’s a cliché to say there’s no typical day but it’s really true. At any point I could be having a zoom meeting, writing an email, hosting a focus group, proofreading, writing sections of a project. Having said that, I think most of the day is about communicating?’

Q3: What languages do you communicate in?

WB: It’s always English and of course sometimes there are communication breakdowns and misunderstandings over numbers or dates

Q4: Which parts do you most enjoy?

WB: I like the process of finding partners and building a project from nothing.

Q5: And the least?

WB: The whole success of Erasmus depends on getting projects approved. If you have spent a long time researching and writing a project, and also finding the right partners, it’s a kick in the teeth when it doesn’t get approved.

Q6: What makes a good project? I mean, why do some not get approved?

WB: I don’t know the exact figures. Perhaps the majority don’t get approved. As for why? It’s difficult to truly know. There is always feedback from the assessors. I’ve known of some very solid projects to not get approved, and some other much weaker ones get full funding.

Q8: You have to partner with other organisations in the EU. What makes a good partner?

WB: A good partner is someone who cares more about the project and less about the money because this type of partner will go the extra mile to make sure that the outputs have an added value’

Q9: What’s the biggest challenge for an Erasmus project officer?

WB: This very much depends on the organisation and the number of projects. I would say juggling all the various activities and dealing with the endless communication. With all the various messaging services these days, it’s difficult to go five minutes without needing to respond to some message. This is very time consuming.

Q10: What advice would you give to anyone about to start this type of work?

WB: The success of all the projects is down to people. I would advise to focus on building solid relationships with colleagues and partners and try to be nice. Also, if you are writing projects, don’t over edit them because you will destroy the projects original spirit.

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