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Name: Mihkel Metsa
Post: Warsaw, Poland
Institution: Embassy of Estonia inPoland
Position: III Secretary
Course taken: MOE34 inthespring of 2011
Can you tell us a bit about your career path and your motivation to follow this profession?
I started a diplomat’s career by accident in 2008, while studying to be an interpreter, when I saw an advertisement by the Foreign Ministry. It looked like a very interesting job with a variety of responsibilities and I felt I fit the criteria. And I had always been interested in politics and history already from an early age.
How much did you plan your current tasks to be as they are today and how much did you leave to chance?
My current tasks involve sustaining and improving economic and political ties with Poland, broadly. By job description, I’m a commercial adviser, however unfortunately we have few exports to Poland these days, so I mostly deal with politics, which fits with my plans. As to planning, foreign ministry system leaves enough possibilities, one can present his or her candidacy for different positions in different countries, since the staff flows constantly between the capital and the posts abroad, however you never know where you end up eventually. That also depends, where you’re needed.
When it comes to influencing the international agenda or shaping public policies in your country, what main challenges do you face in your daily life as a professional?
Estonia’s foreign service is very small, perhaps altogether 600 people work there, including support personnel. This means each individual is very important and can have influence on policy from early on – the first draft is always written by a junior official. However the fact that we have individuals instead of departments dealing with significant issues, can be a challenge too. So smallness means more flexibility, but at the same time it can mean at times more effort to gather expertise and historical memory, depending on the topic. We rely a lot on our predecessors, but I guess it’s always a challenge in each foreign ministry, regardless of size, to read into a new topic.
Tell us about a pleasant work memory you have.
Getting a good feedback from your work is always a very positive experience for me. I have a couple of those instances. I consider the first one as most important, from my first boss back in 2008.
If you hadn’t followed this career, what other profession could you see yourself in and why?
I could see myself as an interpreter, a path I discontinued, when I went to work at the foreign ministry in January 2008. I think it’s fairly difficult for diplomats in general to have an alternative profession.
How do you think our alumni network could serve your purposes better?
Thus far it has served me well, it helps keep my German up to date.
How would you be willing to participate in our network?
I have good memories from my time in Berlin. I’m willing to participate at gatherings and contribute both in written and spoken form.
These interviews are the opinion of the interviewed Alumni and do not represent the views of Training for International Diplomats or the Federal Foreign Office. Training for International Diplomats and the Federal Foreign Office are not responsible for the content of these interviews.