An Intern's Perspective - Jonas Begemann

By Jonas Begeman | Uppsala University

When I moved to Uppsala about one year ago, I could not foresee that my studies would turn towards migration studies soon and that I would be involved in a project of the size of RESPOND.

I am a master’s student in European studies and am enrolled in a programme which greatest feature is the mobility: Studying at a different place all over Europe every semester is not unlikely but rather the norm. So, why would one just stay at a place, just as I did?

When I was searching for an internship in spring 2018 it happened that Önver Cetrez held a seminar in my course and presented the RESPOND project. I was immediately fascinated by its aim, the contributions from different disciplines and the empathic approach towards the people who are at the core of the field: Refugees and asylum seekers.

This is how I got to know – and then started to work with – RESPOND.

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Now, several months later my internship in the project is over already. In this time I gained much knowledge about the content of the work packages I was involved in, namely WP2 – border management, WP3 – protection regimes, WP4 – reception, and how to work in an academic context. I learned not only about the manifold aspects of migration and flight but also how to conduct research in over 11 countries and with even more partners. 

In my time in the project, I was impressed by the trust and openness of the team members, as an intern who is still a student I got involved in the work from the beginning on. Every opinion was always esteemed and in countless team meetings, every aspect was discussed. This helped me to conduct research independently as well as in close cooperation with the respective work package responsible. As much as I was happy to get such insights in academic work it remains one of the central features of RESPOND to actively try to reach out of the “ivory tower”: MGN meetings gave me an impression of the non-academic work on the topic of migration in the Swedish context. 

To other students being interested in an academic internship, I can only recommend the experiences you can make in RESPOND. However, work goes much easier and even deeper if one brings certain language skills: While not being necessary I could have profited if my Swedish would be better or if I would speak Arabic. 

While the internship is over, my work with migration studies (in the broader sense) and RESPOND is not yet. The topic for my master’s thesis, my big project for the upcoming semester, is directly linked to my work on WP2 – Border management & migration controls and will look at the externalisation of European borders through a postcolonial lens. Efforts, especially on the European level, to “outsource” border control and steering of migration flows and the framing of these by leading politicians will be in the focus. This aspect won’t be dealt with much in the country report and means a contribution indirectly linked to WP2 and Europeanisation. 

So, after all: Why would one stay if moving on to yet another part of Europe would be possible as well? RESPOND is a project like not many others, with the potential to gather and create knowledge about one of the most pressing developments of our time and – maybe even more important – to be not only focused on the research aspect but with the aspiration to have an impact on policy-makers and the refugees’ situation. The work that is being done here is on the pulse of time and happens in a unique set-up – I am happy I could explore and contribute to it.


about Jonas

Research Intern at the RESPOND project in Uppsala. Jonas holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with history as a minor. During his bachelor’s he studied at the University of Munich and the University of Copenhagen. He currently studies the joint-degree master’s programme “Euroculture” at the Universities of Göttingen and Uppsala. His research is focused on European integration and political culture, regionalism and migration. Jonas will combine his experience from RESPOND with his interest in border studies in his master’s thesis. He has work experience in the governmental sector through an internship at the German Environmental Ministry.