UN Office Matters

  • What do I remember from my intern days?...

    First I remember how little I knew about UNICEF, as an organization, and how everyone took this lack of knowledge for granted. Later I found out that some Country Offices have orientation programs, which allow you to have meetings with the heads of programs to learn what they are doing.

    This is very helpful. But I remembered, as an intern, I had more basic questions about the organization as a whole that I felt were too dumb to ask... (how does UNICEF operate? what is that that we actually did? how did the fundraising work? who was the executive board?). These questions went unwanswered until I took the PPP (program, policy and practice?) induction program many years later, as a staff member. Needless to say, I had lots of a-ha moments during that workshop...

     I also remembered being surprised at the many high-level       things I was responsible for. This was not the kind of 'bring- coffee-to-your-boss' situation. I had my hands on very important stuff, like writing facilitator's guides on gender mainstreaming, speeches for meetings at the General Assembly, draft human rights reports, etc.

    It took me a while  to shake off the 'wow' effect at the thought that I had a tiny,  microscopic influence on what I saw as major policies that  could affect the lives of many. I felt proud entering the UNICEF  and the UN building. I felt important.

    Later on, I learned that  few people actually read these reports, anyway.. 

    Finally, I remember quite vividly thinking about my next move, especially about the kind of job I would like to apply for when I graduated. Naively I thought that if I slaved away as an intern for 6 months, there would be a shiny job happily waiting for me in the end of the tunnel. 

    But the reality was different, of course. Back then, I remember seeing an ad for two entry-level (P2) temporary assistance (TA) positions. They seemed like cool jobs, something related to doing research for one of organization's flagship publications, The State of the World's Children. Let me reiteraite: these were P2 and TAs. In other words, very entry level positions.

    I didn't apply for them. But I thought these were exactly the kinds of jobs that I would eventually get once I graduated from school and put in my time at UNICEF as an intern. Great was my surprise, however, when I eventually met the successful candidates for these posts: not only did they have PhDs from top universities, but they also had tons of work experience working in Africa and Asia (nicely done, Katie!).

    And then I knew that my trajectory from intern to staff member would take a while... and it did...