My first job (10/10)

François Biltgen: “It was a risk, but I took it”

François Biltgen got his start as a journalist. Photo: François Biltgen

François Biltgen got his start as a journalist. Photo: François Biltgen

This summer, Delano and Paperjam have been asking professionals in Luxembourg about their first ever jobs. This week: François Biltgen, judge at the EU Court of Justice and former politician.

What was your first student job?

I was still a university student in Paris, but I came back during the holidays and worked as a correspondent for the Républicain Lorrain in Luxembourg. My father had already worked there and I did the same during my holidays from 1978 to 1982. I did small, and sometimes big, reports for the newspaper and I also wrote articles in German for France Journal, the German version of the Républicain Lorrain. It was a job that I liked because I was already interested in the public life of the country.

How much did you get paid?

I don’t remember at all how much I was paid. However, I think it was by the line.

What was your first “real” job?

In January 1983, I became secretary of the parliamentary group of the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV). I was still a registered student in Paris and I was to do a DEA in contemporary history on Italian immigration to Luxembourg in the political science faculty. I had even wanted to go on to a doctorate in law at the University of Paris II. But in December 1982, my friend Michel Wolter said to me: “Jean-Claude Juncker is entering the government and you have always told me that you are interested in politics. Why don’t you apply to become parliamentary secretary instead of Jean-Claude Juncker?” So that’s what I did: the parliamentary group elected me.

What was the remuneration for this job? What did you do with your first paycheque?

It was certainly a political job, because the secretary of the parliamentary group is part of the national committee of the CSV, but it was also a paid job, because I had to run the parliamentary group’s office. The salary was 60,000 Luxembourg francs per month, if I remember correctly. With this first salary, I remember buying music, vinyl, but also renting a flat to leave home and go back to Paris to celebrate with friends.

Today, what would you say to the young François Biltgen handing out his CV?

That you should always grab opportunities by the horns. That’s what I did when I left my life in Paris to go into politics, and to get personally involved in public life in order to make things happen. It was a risk, but I took it. The important thing is to seize opportunities when they arise, but above all to do a job you enjoy. There is no job that has only benefits—and sometimes jobs have other benefits than salary and holidays.