GUEST BLOG: 7 Things I Learned as a UN Intern

Shout out to the best #humsoc work study a division could as for, Madison! Enjoy the below post submitted by her about her experience interning at the United Nations. Learn more about MMC’s amazing programs with the UN here.

Seven Things I Learned as a United Nations Intern

  1. You have to go through a huge security process to get in the building.

The United Nations doesn’t play around with security. There are several different entrances that are used to get into the main building. There are separate entrances for diplomats, the press, faculty and staff, and NGO representatives. I was an NGO intern, which meant I had a very low security clearance. Every day I had to remove my bags and coat, and take out my laptop like I would in an airport. Sometimes if my metal water bottle was too full they would flag me down for a search.

security

  1. Any art pieces in the UN are donated by member states.

If you ever take a tour of the UN, which I highly recommend, you will see beautiful pieces of art hung on the walls. Each one of them is donated by a member state in an attempt to make their generosity and presence known within the institution. There is a plaque next to each one that displays who donated it and when it was donated. It can be really interesting to look at an art piece in the context of global history!

(get some info about the art here.)

  1. Don’t take the stairs!

One time I took the stairs instead of the elevator. A rookie mistake. I was locked in there for about a half hour and it was HOT. I thought I might die alone, sweating to death in the UN headquarters. I managed to call the front desk and they directed me to a back exit. Don’t take the stairs!

stairs

  1. Negotiations for only one document can go all night long.

I was working during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is one of the biggest events of the year. The Commission lasts about two weeks, and includes hundreds of different sessions on the rights and struggles of women across the world. At the end of the two weeks, member states are asked to sign a set of resolutions that signify their support of certain issues. Member states stayed long into the night (4am I think?!) to negotiate the tiniest details of the CSW resolutions. I hope they had coffee breaks because I would need some serious caffeine!

allnightlong

  1. The Executive Director of UN Women will pause for a photo.

In case you didn’t know, the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, is AMAZING. She has a way of speaking that both lightens the room and commands attention. I couldn’t think of anyone better to represent the women of the world. One time she was speaking in a meeting I was attending, and I followed her out into the hallway and asked for a photo. Don’t worry, I wasn’t the only one asking for a quote or a photo, she’s practically a celebrity! My boss was super excited that I got the photo and I posted it on my NGO’s social media right away.

  1. You have to have prior internship experience to apply for this position.

To be accepted into the MMC United Nations program, you need prior internship experience on your resume. Along with submitting a formal application, an interview with the International Studies department is also required. If you are accepted, the department will place you with an NGO based on your interests and qualifications.

exp

  1. If you are asked to speak at the podium, GO FOR IT.

This will forever be a regret of mine. Early in my internship, I was in a civil society meeting in one of the giant conference rooms. The room split into groups based on geographic representation, so as an American citizen, I was in the North American group. I was asked to take notes and was typing as fast as my fingers could go. Because I had all the notes, the group leader asked me to represent us on the podium. I PANICKED. I didn’t feel prepared to speak, so I quickly turned down the invitation. Now I regret it. I could have a photo of me speaking in one of the biggest conference rooms at the UN! So…if you are asked to speak at the podium, go for it!

doit

(Thanks to Madison for sharing her experiences, and thanks to you all for reading. Be nice to yourself and everyone you encounter doing fun festive activities this weekend!)

fallleaves

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