by Alona Gaiek (Global Communications and Media Studies, with Doreen Bandua (Global Development & Peace), Joel Amegboh (Global Development & Peace), Ibrahim Khan (Global Development & Peace), and Beltina Gjeloshi (Global Development & Peace)
The College of Public and International Affairs is proud to announce that six prominent graduate students interned at United Nations headquarters in New York city in Summer 2014. Beltina Gjeloshi (Global Develoment & Peace, second year), Doreen Bandua (Global Develoment & Peace, second year), Rie Sano (East Asia & Pacific Rim Studies, second year), Rakan Alsaadi (Global Develoment & Peace, second year), Mohammed Ibrahim Khan (Global Develoment & Peace, second year), and Joel Amegboh (Global Develoment & Peace, second year). Beltina, Doreen and Ibrahim kindly agreed to share their experiences.
At which UN department were you interning?
Beltina: Permanent Mission of the Republic of Albania to the United Nations as an Interning Adviser.
Doreen: I was privileged to have been offered a summer internship at the Permanent Mission of Ghana to the United Nations in New York from June 9th 2014 to July 31st 2014. My current internship is at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, specifically in the Office of Rule of Law (Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Security Sector Reform Unit). I began this internship on the 2nd of September 2014 and will end on the 12th of December 2014.
Ibrahim: I was interning with esteemed Pakistan Mission to the United Nations. I had to look after the 5th Committee of the General Assembly i.e. Budgets and Administration and ECOSOC!
What were your responsibilities?
Beltina: My responsibilities generally included attending high level consultations, negotiations, and other general organizational modality meetings and reporting back to His Excellency the Ambassador, other Permanent Representatives within the Mission, and the Capital. I was mainly following the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the High Level Segment of the High Level Political Forum, and the works of ECOSOC and the Trusteeship Council. For example, something I have done every day since the beginning is three types of reports to be submitted electronically at the end of the day, namely the Full Report (who said what and when, down to the tiniest detail), Summary Report (a summary containing general impressions and atmosphere of what was going on and main conclusions), and the Personal Report (what I thought were the issues, how would I approach such, and where do I see such going).
Doreen: My tasks at the Permanent Mission of Ghana included keeping the diary of the Head of Chancery and Second Committee expert (Preparing his schedule and briefing him on his daily meetings and appointments), attending meetings of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee and reporting thereon as and when required as well as drafting administrative and diplomatic correspondence. At the current internship with the Office of Rule of Law (Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Security Sector Reform Unit) my role is to assist members of the SSR Unit in a highly intensive working environment. This includes following up on high-level meetings with Member States and/ or UN senior officials; assisting in the collection, development and management of best practices and lessons learned from the UN, partners and external actors with regards to SSR and to this end researching, analyzing and representing SSR-related information from various sources; assisting in the drafting of various documents, e.g., minutes, briefing notes, policy documents, draft notes to file on meetings. Working with the UN has been awesome so far; a fantastic and humbling learning experience.
Ibrahim: Representing Pakistan in high-level meetings (General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC, Press briefings, G77, IOC, etc.), as well as in related draft consultations and in formulation of eminent UN frameworks, such as the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals, etc. Formulating reports, which provide diplomats with vital information (relevant to Pakistan’s interests, on other member states’ positions, and goings-ons of UN as a whole). Regular meetings with Ambassador to debrief on attended meetings
What was the most challenging for you?
Beltina: Having to learn to be confident and genuine while also being diplomatic and ambitious both in getting to know Delegates, Ambassadors, and other Representatives as well as incorporating that into one’s daily life and make it a habit. The traits I have acquired from my experience at the UN are applicable to a range of fields and settings–learning about them and being participant as much as one can possibly be is extremely important. Body language, vocabulary and choice of wording, being able to listen and intervene when appropriate, being able to adjust oneself to a variety of situations, and portraying the knowledge and abilities one has acquired over the years are only some of the vital components part of the transition from being student to being a young professional. Career development starts with personal development.
Doreen: My biggest challenge with both internships is the cost of transportation, taking into account the fact that both internships are unpaid. I am currently combining graduate school with my internship and hence, I have a fully packed week (interning three times a week and attending graduate school three times a week). However, the satisfaction derived from working for such a prestigious institution is great consolation. I am confident that the sacrifice will pay off in the near future.
Ibrahim: The most Challenging task was the commute from Bridgeport to United Nations back and forth daily.
What moment was the most memorable for you?
Beltina: The night and morning prior to the Open Working Group’s adoption of the proposed SDGs. In order to reach consensus before the deadline set forth, I and other Delegations had to undergo massive negotiations and compromise from 8AM through 7AM of the next day. In those hours the spirit of the SDGs was the most alive and Delegates had a responsibility and duty to reach harmony and unity in the eyes of one another as well as the world as a whole. I am truly honored to have experienced such event and see firsthand what I have studied both within International Political Economy and Diplomacy as well as Global Development and Peace.
Doreen: During my internship, I was exposed to the rudiments of administering a diplomatic mission as well as the deliberations of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee which is primarily responsible for global economic and financial matters relating to issues of economic growth and development such as macroeconomic policy questions (including international trade, international development, human settlements, poverty eradication, globalization and interdependence, operational activities for development, and information and communication technologies. I also had great networking opportunities, which I maximized to the best of my ability. I was honored to meet and speak with high-level Foreign Service officials. Their words of wisdom will remain a source of inspiration to me.
Ibrahim: Socializing in a delegate Lounge while enjoying FIFA World cup 2014 and feel the expression of audience on the losing side, Dinner with variety of diplomats from across the world in Pakistan Mission. Security Council session on MH-17 (Downing of Malaysian Airline and Gaza-Israel recent clashes.
What advice would you give your colleagues aspiring to intern at the UN?
Beltina: Be presentable and well dressed. Have business cards at hand, either personal or of the organization you are representing. Give firm handshakes and smile. Be on time. Listen carefully. If you make a mistake, admit it, learn from it, and move on. Get to know someone new every day. Never be afraid to ask a question but frame your question well. Read all the documents, position papers, and publications that are given to you.
Doreen: My advice to all colleagues is that they aim for the top and not belittle themselves and their individual strengths. With hard work and determination, success is a surety.
Ibrahim: Set short-term goals in order to accomplish [an] end goal and don’t undermine the power of networking.