Ms. Julia Schulteis is a graduate student in International Relations. During the fall semester she is serving as a consultant for UNICEF’s Corporate Social Responsibility office.
I was uneasy about accepting an internship in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to Maxwell, I had spent two years living in rural Thailand working in community development as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I loved my time working outside of an office, living with people of different cultures and learning about development from the very people whose lives are impacted. However, in returning to school for a Masters in International Relations, I knew it would be important to see the other side, the work that happens from headquarters. I am grateful now that my hesitations did not stop me from spending the summer in Geneva, along with seven other Maxwell students, as it proved an invaluable learning opportunity.
Ms. Julia Schulteis in Switzerland.
I worked in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Unit of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) during the day, and attended class two nights a week. One evening per week, we would have a guest speaker from one of the many international organizations located in Geneva. We met with the General Secretary of the World YWCA, the Executive Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Director from the International Organization for Migration among others. On the second evening, we would discuss relevant international topics such as the Millennium Development Goals and priorities should be included in the post-2015 agenda to what are the top priorities if entering a country post-conflict as a humanitarian worker. It was a 24-7 learning experience between the internship, the course and the culture of Geneva, a melting pot of nationalities from around the world.
As a graduate student who had a career prior to my time at Maxwell, it was important to have an internship which fully utilized my skills and experience. UNICEF’s CSR Unit did just that. UNICEF has a dual humanitarian and development mandate, advocating for the protection of children’s rights, to meet their basic needs and also provide opportunities to meet their full potential. The work is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF’s CSR team works to ensure child rights are respected and supported by businesses in the workplace, marketplace and communities. Guided by the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, the work they are doing is leading the way for ensuring children’s rights are on the business and human rights agenda.
Organizations recognize the value that a Maxwell student brings and I was treated as part of the team. I started out doing research to support a project in collaboration with the Nutrition team, then quickly became engaged in additional responsibilities. I spent the rest of the summer supporting the global roll-out of the Guidelines for Industry on Child Online Protection. This was a great opportunity to work with other UN partners, such as the International Telecommunication Union, as well as mobile operators, and UNICEF’s country and regional offices around the globe in implementing Guidelines that would protect children against the very real dangers in the online world, while also promoting their rights to freedom of expression, privacy and promoting civic engagement. I am continuing this work now, back in Geneva as a consultant with UNICEF.
Outside of work, living in Geneva provides an abundance of activities to engage in for personal and professional development. I attended Kofi Annan’s book signing and listened to him speak on his new book, We the Peoples: A UN for the Twenty-First Century. I also attended the Human Rights Council Special Session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Though Geneva feels incredibly far from the people we are serving, the work and discussions that are able to happen because of its special place as the humanitarian capital of the world, are critical to supporting peace in all corners of the globe. Finally, if not already obvious, Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and taking a train through the Swiss Alps or visiting neighboring countries such as Italy or France is not hard to do. For those considering a summer in Geneva, there’s no need to think twice. It’s an experience not to be missed.