Caitlin Hoover, HQ Work at the UN Leads to Passion for Field Work

As a joint MPA/MAIR student, Caitlin Hoover is now working on her MPA degree in Syracuse.

I never felt as much excitement in my life as the moment I was informed that the United Nations had selected me for an internship in Geneva, Switzerland. I was not quite sure what to expect in the coming months when I stepped foot on the plane to Europe and felt a surge of excitement knowing that I was about to dive into my calling in life- humanitarian work. The combination of both a 40 hour work week at an unpaid internship and taking night classes seemed like a slippery slope to feeling burnt out. However, I found that the combination of my hands-on internship work during the day and learning about international organizations and their functions in the evening, was exactly what I needed to succeed in Geneva. It was wonderful to challenge my brain to learn new material in the evenings while being surrounded by other students like myself who were embarking on similar journeys for their futures. My classmates and professor quickly evolved into a support network for adjusting to life in Geneva and understanding how international organizations operate in a real world context.

While interning at the United Nations Headquarters for the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs within the Humanitarian Leadership Strengthening Unit, I discovered that HQ‑level work was not for me- and that’s okay! Instead I found my passion for working in field based operations within a security and humanitarian framework. I never would have discovered this so early on in my career if it had not been for the opportunity to network with professionals throughout a variety of United Nations positions. Even though I realized my passion does not lie within the particular unit I interned with, as the unit worked to train and support high level United Nations officials rather than directly involve itself in humanitarian operations, I was able to grow and evolve as an individual and learn a variety of skills which are crucial to my future career.

Having successfully completed an internship with the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, I now feel confident in my ability to operate effectively within a major international organization and have a firm understanding of the direction my career path will take upon graduating. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to study abroad in Switzerland while pursuing a full-time internship in the heart of my dream career field.

Caitlin Hoover, In the mountain, Switzerland
Caitlin Hoover, Gornergrat (3,100 m), Switzerland