Internship at United Nations Head Quarters (New York Office)

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Sojin Kim, NUR ’18

During this summer, I worked as an intern at Medical Services Division at United Nations Head Quarters (New York Office). Medical Services Division monitors health status and executes initiatives to improve quality of medical services provided to UN staffs including the Peacekeeping officers. As an intern, I was mainly responsible for monitoring epidemic outbreaks in the member states, evaluating quality of healthcare services in UN clinics and Peacekeeping missions, and supervising qualification of medical officers to be deployed to Peacekeeping missions around the world.

If I have to put my 14-week experience at the UN into one word, it would be ‘multi-culturalism.’ On top of all the technical aspect of work, I always had to keep in mind that I am working with people from diverse backgrounds. All supervisors come from different countries and backgrounds. Some are even more fluent in French or other UN official languages. Other interns are from different countries. In fact, there were 7 interns in our division over the summer and only 2 of them were U.S. citizens.
This is not limited to staffs in the Medical Services Division. Every officer I met during the internship came from different countries in which they had different work culture and environment, political structure, education system, language, health infrastructure and level of development in technology. As each staff I communicated had different level of expectation according to their backgrounds, every task involved standardization within certain level of flexibility. I believe this feature distinguishes the experience at UN the most.

Overall, UN provided a variety of global opportunities besides work. Plenty of meetings and events are held in the HQ office and interns are allowed to participate most of them. I mainly observed Security Council meetings and participated events held by delegations. Other interns also observed different Council meetings which they were interested in. In addition, I had chance to see the Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of UN, during the Townhall meeting.

After I received the offer letter, I hesitated working for UN for a few reasons. One of the problems was that UN does not pay interns despite of high cost of living in New York city. Also, internship at UN does not offer full-time position after graduation. As I wanted to find a position that can lead to next step of my career, I was not fully positive on making decision to spend my summer at UN.

With a variety of resources I could experience and made me learn, however, I do not regret spending my last summer vacation working at Medical Services Division at UN HQ. If any of you reading this want to gain experience at UN HQ, do not hesitate it and go for it!

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.