Tag Archives: United Nations

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

Brittany Renner Experiences an Eye-Opening Moment Working for Migrant Rights

Brittany Renner is currently interning and studying in Washington, DC as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program. She is a MAIR student in the Public Administration and International Affairs Department at the Maxwell School.

This Summer I completed the Geneva Practicum in Geneva, Switzerland. Even though I knew I wanted to do this program before I got into the Maxwell School, I learned so much more than I could have ever expected in the three months that I was there.

I received an internship position in the Director General’s Office of the International Organization for Migration under the supervision of the Senior Regional Advisor for Sub‑Saharan Africa. I spent my weeks at the IOM doing substantial work, including conducting independent research, attending United Nations conferences, and meeting with country ambassadors. My independent research focused on analyzing African visa policies and their economic and social impacts on African migrants and potential investors. It was eye-opening to work for migrants’ rights, and it was an opportunity to learn more about my region of focus. I even had the chance to present my research at an internal IOM staff meeting for constructive criticism before it was presented at the annual Intra-Regional Consultations on Migration and Labour Mobility within Africa meeting in Accra, Ghana. My internship was a crucial experience for me and my future career path in international development.

In the class component of the Practicum, I learned so much about not only the United Nations system, but also about the life of an international worker and what goes into choosing a career path in foreign service. Our group had class twice a week and during that time we had numerous presentations and meetings with officials from organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR, Humanitarian Dialogue, and World Economic Forum. We also had the opportunity to learn about the history of Switzerland and how Geneva became a hub of international diplomacy.

We toured around the country learning about other important cities like Bern, Zurich, and Lucerne and were lucky enough to travel to Zermatt and experience an amazing up-close view with the famous Alps. Of course, on weekends we also were able to travel to other neighboring European countries like France, Italy and Germany. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is serious about potentially working in international relations organizations, especially the United Nations. It is truly a unique program with history, culture and professional experience waiting for you.

Caitlin Hoover, Brittany Renner, Hyeseul Hwang, and Program Director Dr. Werner Schleiffer(From left to right)
From left: Caitlin Hoover, Brittany Renner, Hyeseul Hwang, and Program Director Dr. Werner Schleiffer

Celina Menzel, Gaining Valuable Experience in the United Nations in New York

 

UN Headquarters, New York City, USA
UN Headquarters, New York City, USA

Celina Menzel  is a dual degree MAIR/Atlantis student in Syracuse University.

From May to July 2015, I did my internship at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York.

Since my internship took place in the development section of the Division of Economic Affairs, my own responsibilities evolved around development-related topics such as:

  • Health, including emergency responses to Ebola and other epidemic diseases, non‑communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health and rights, antimicrobial resistances, etc.
  • Migration, including refugee and IDP issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis
  • Food security and nutrition, particularly interventions by WFP and FAO
  • UNICEF interventions, particularly humanitarian action and emergency responses as well as long-term development measures
  • South-South Cooperation and Triangular cooperation
  • Reforming Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, particularly the role that social services and dialogue may play
  • Support to Haiti and the ad-hoc advisory group
  • The Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including their implementation in countries affected by conflict and crises

My daily responsibilities mostly included participation in different sessions and events that were held at the UN Headquarters or organized by the member states and then report back to the Permanent Mission and the Headquarters of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. For example, I attended sessions at the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Executive Board of UNICEF, and different thematic Side-Events. Moreover, I took part in informal negotiations concerning draft resolutions as well as in different conferences (e.g. the Ebola conference in July) and conducted my own research on various topics that were of interest to me.

I personally feel like I gained a lot of knowledge and new skills during this internship. So far, the focus of my studies was mostly on conflict, security and post-conflict reconstruction. One of the reasons why I chose this internship position was that I wanted to expand my focus and learn more about long-term development in post-conflict settings because I believe that it is important for sustained stability and peace. Therefore, it was very valuable for me to deal with topics that I did not know that much about before. Moreover, I learned a lot about the daily work at the Permanent Mission and the United Nations Headquarters, the decision-making processes, the way interventions are designed and implemented, the importance of sufficient political will, etc.

In conclusion, my internship was very insightful for me. I gained a lot of knowledge – content-wise and skill-wise – and gained valuable experience. Particularly the relation to my supervisor, her supportive and encouraging conduct towards me, her eagerness to show me every facet of her work, and her willingness to entrust me with real responsibilities allowed me to have a very productive time during my internship.

Celina Menzel at a UN Headquarters staff BBQ
Celina Menzel at a UN Headquarters staff BBQ

Emily Fredenberg Assists UNDP with Health & Development

The following entry was drafted by Emily Fredenberg, a dual-degree MPA & MAIR student.

Emily Fredenberg – UNDP Health and Development Unit

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the United Nations Development Programme, within their Health and Development Unit in Geneva, Switzerland. As an intern, my work was divided between the unit’s focal point on non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, and the social and economic detriments of health, and a team specialist on UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Much of the work UNDP performs in-country specializes in government capacity building. At the headquarters level, the unit’s partnership team with the Global Fund serves an advisory function in that it provides technical support to UNDP country teams executing Global Fund grants. At country level, UNDP is selected as a principal grant recipient by the Global Fund in instances when a country does not have the capability to implement the grant themselves. As principal grant recipient, UNDP works simultaneously to implement a grant, as well as to build a country’s capacity to carry out Global Fund grants themselves. Currently, UNDP is principal recipient to Global Fund grants in 26 countries.

The UNDP Health and Development Unit in Geneva also specializes in non-communicable disease (NCD) policy. Much of this policy involves joint-programming initiatives with a number of other UN agencies and programmes, most prominently, the World Health Organization (WHO). UNDP and WHO are currently pursuing a joint NCD Governance Programme initiative. This programme is designed to enhance government capacity across government sectors by looking at NCDs more broadly, not only within the health sector. Such sectors include ministries of education, finance, agriculture, trade, and tourism with the ultimate goal of various ministries within a government working collaboratively to address the growing problem of NCDs. The Geneva team also works closely with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in assisting countries to successfully implement and execute the framework.

Throughout the summer, my work was quite varied within the unit. I had the opportunity to attend the World Health Assembly, as well as several other thematic units at various UN agencies pertaining to health in development. I conducted targeted research with NCDs in capital infrastructure projects, examining ways large capital projects can affect the incidence of NCDs as well as solutions to mitigating the side-effects of such projects. I played an integral role in planning a South-South Triangular seminar with the FCTC, where countries in need of technical assistance implementing the FCTC framework could receive expertise from other countries willing and able to provide such. Additionally, two evenings a week I attended a class, as part of Maxwell’s Geneva Summer Practicum. During class, we often had presentations from various guest speakers of UN agencies, government missions, as well as NGOs.

My internship with UNDP certainly allowed me to get a fuller understanding of the intricacies of the UN system, and to develop my research, writing, and strategic planning skills. All in all, I had an amazing summer with the United Nations in Geneva. Geneva truly is a great city to spend the summer in, and I’m quite grateful for the experience I was able to have there.

Emily Fredenberg (left) and fellow intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva
Emily Fredenberg (left) and fellow intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva

Sarah White Harnesses Mobile Health Interventions with WHO

The following entry was drafted by Sarah White, a dual-degree MPA & MAIR student.

Sarah White – WHO, Non-Communicable Diseases department

I spent this summer in Switzerland interning with the World Health Organization (WHO) and studying as a part of Maxwell’s Geneva Summer Practicum. Being in Geneva allowed for personal access and insight into the inner workings of a large UN organization as well as exploring ways the international community comes together to tackle some of the biggest issues we face today.

As an intern at the WHO, I worked on a small team within the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) department. Our team works jointly with another large international organization, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), on mobile-based health interventions designed to reinforce healthy habits and decrease the likelihood of NCD risks. Lots of these programs are focused on helping people quit smoking as tobacco use directly leads to health, economic, and social losses in every county no matter how rich or poor. You can find examples of these programs on the Be Healthy, Be Mobile website.

Mobile-based health interventions are new, exciting territories for health providers and governments. As technology continues to progress, the Internet becomes more accessible, and service costs decrease, there will be even more opportunities for mobile interventions. Yet the definitive proof is still yet to be found. Part of my internship this summer has been to identify best practices for these programs, figure out ways we can convince governments of their cost-effective benefits, and create a guide that will supplement their recruitment policies by using social media outreach.

Besides learning about the new ways technology is changing the way we think about behavioral health interventions, being at the WHO and in Geneva allows me to learn about many other organizations I had little interaction with before. The WHO constantly has talks from experts on different health challenges. The interns here also organize their own talks from experts and other interns to share what they are working on.

Perhaps the best part of the Maxwell class is this kind of introduction and exposure to the different work done by organizations around Geneva. Coming from the private sector I did not know much about international organizations and their roles in influencing global priorities. During this summer, we had Q&As with over 10 different organizations in Geneva. In today’s culture of “leaning in,” many of our guests included women in high positions, which was not only inspiring, but allowed us to ask candid questions about their experiences becoming leaders. You just can’t get this kind of access every day.

My summer in Geneva taught me a lot about the type of organization I wish to work for in the future, the kinds of leadership to look for, and challenged me to think critically about why and how we do the work we do. Many thanks to Professor Schleiffer, my Maxwell family, and the Cramer Global Programs for making this summer a reality!

Sarah White in front of the Matterhorn.
Sarah White in front of the Matterhorn.

Gustavo Zanabria – United Nations Economic Council on Latin America and the Caribbean

Mr. Gustavo Zanabria is a graduate student in the department of Public Administration and International Affairs.  He will be on campus in Syracuse during the fall semester of 2014.

It was a great experience to complete a twelve-week internship at Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile. This international organization is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations.  It was founded with the purpose of contributing to the economic development of Latin America. The commission coordinates actions directed towards this objective, including promoting the region´s social development and reinforcing economic ties among other nations of the world. Continue reading Gustavo Zanabria – United Nations Economic Council on Latin America and the Caribbean

Abigail Reese (JD/IR ’15) – UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate

The following entry was drafted by Ms. Abigail Reese a dual-degree JD and MAIR student.

The United Nations Counterterrorism Committee was established by the UN Security Council
United Nations Security Council Chamber. Photo Source: Wikipedia

“I spent my summer working in NYC for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). CTED was established by Security Council Resolution 1535 (2004), and its purpose is to assist the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and coordinate the process of monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001). Resolution 1373 requested countries to implement a number of measures intended to enhance their legal and institutional ability to counter terrorist activities.” Continue reading Abigail Reese (JD/IR ’15) – UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate

Julia Schulteis (MAIR ’14) – UNICEF Corporate Social Responsibility Unit

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. Continue reading Julia Schulteis (MAIR ’14) – UNICEF Corporate Social Responsibility Unit

Getting Your Foot in the Door at the UN

It's easier to get in on the streetside
The UN Secretariat in New York
Source: Wikipedia

One of the challenges of finding a position within the United Nations is how to begin one’s search.  The UN employs more than  44,000 staff around the world, with operations that affect the 193 member states and bridge specializations from information policy, to peacekeeping, to international health, to logistics.

As many of you have expressed interest in working with the United Nations Secretariat, its constituent funds and programs, or its specialized agencies, we thought it useful to give some background on how one can get one’s “foot in the door” with the United Nations.  Continue reading Getting Your Foot in the Door at the UN