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!

Informal Networking Opportunities

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

Much has been written about networking and its importance in the job and internship search process. When meeting with students, I try to make a distinction between formal networking and informal networking. While formal networking opportunities include events such as career fairs and information sessions where the assumption is that attendees will “network” with each other, it can be easy to forget that informal networking can lead to some interesting possibilities. A recent experience reminded of the value of informal networking.

While on my commute to work one morning, I was standing next to two individuals engaged in conversation.  Everything else was so quiet that the only thing you could hear was the loud conversation.  After a few minutes, it was very clear the two individuals did not previously know each other – they just happened to be sitting near each other and decided to strike up a conversation.  I noticed that one person was a college student seeking advice and the other a working professional.  One thing that was memorable was the end of the conversation where the professional offered his business card and his willingness to connect the student with someone he knew that could possibly help.  And all of this happened on a random commute one morning – an example of an informal networking situation that you may find yourself in when you least expect it.

So if you have the chance to engage in informal networking and have a conversation with someone outside of a formalized networking event, think of it as a opportunity.  You never know who you will meet and where the conversation may lead.

 

How to Navigate Professional Conferences

By: Fiona Tang, Graduate Assistant

It’s the time of the year again for professional conferences organized by different student groups. Selecting which conferences to attend and how to best maximize the value of each conference can be a challenge for students who are busy with school and recruiting.

Therefore, I will share some tips on how to successfully navigate various professional conferences organized by student groups.

Which conferences to attend?

Many conferences take an entire day, which is quite a time commitment. Therefore, carefully selecting which conferences to attend is important for your time management.

For freshmen and sophomores, conferences are some of the best boot camps to explore an industry and geographic location. If you are interested in learning about private equity and venture capital, then attending a private equity/venture capital conference is the best way to learn about the biggest funds, industry trends and network with potential future employers. If you are interested in an internship in China, then attending China Forum is the easiest way to connect with local employers and students. I would also recommend expanding your horizons by participating in conferences focused on industries you have not explored thus far – there are more job opportunities available beyond finance and consulting. Attending different conferences during freshman and sophomore years can potentially expand your career options.

For juniors and seniors, conferences can also be opportunities to learn about industries/geographic locations, but more importantly they are valuable for networking with future employers. By junior and senior year, it is helpful to have a sense of the industry/location that you would like to target. Given the busy schedules of recruiting and classes, being selective and targeted at which conferences to attend is important. Try your best to Identify you career interests first and attend relevant professional conferences is probably a better option than attending all of them.

How to maximize the value of the conference?

Being well-prepared in advance can save you time and maximize the value of the conference. Review the conference schedule prior to the event and identify specific workshops/forums that you would like to attend. Do your due diligence on the speakers/firms that you are interested in so that you can better understand the topics discussed and ask meaningful questions during the conference.

During the conference, network, network and network! Some students might believe attending conferences is just about listening to different talks. That might be true for freshmen and sophomores, it definitely should not be the case for juniors and seniors. Companies come to student organization conferences mostly for networking and recruiting purposes. It’s important to spend time networking after each talk and get contact information from the speakers, particularly for firms of great interest. Another way to get involved is participating in the conference planning team. For industries/geographic locations that you are interested in recruiting, getting involved in the conference planning team is a great opportunity for outreach and networking with different companies.

In conclusion, conferences are fun and great ways to network and learn about industries. Enjoy these experiences and make new friends while you are there!

Mid-Summer Internship Advice

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

Difficult to believe that August is almost here and the summer will be ending before you know it. For those of you working this summer, here are some things to consider before finishing your internship:

– Take some time to assess your performance thus far. Some employers have mid-summer performance reviews as a component of their internship programs while others do not. If you have a performance review soon, be prepared to share your accomplishments and contributions. If you have completed a performance review, be sure to implement the feedback and advice on improving your performance – you can also think of ways to take initiative beyond your required duties. And if you do not have a mid-summer performance review scheduled, consider asking your supervisor for a meeting – if that is not feasible, you may want to ask for feedback on your performance to date.

– Carefully continue to cultivate and expand your network at the organization. Be careful with this – do not attempt to simply meet as many people as you can at your office. Try to connect with your colleagues and show your interest in working at the organization by developing your network. Be sincere in your outreach and thankful for the time given from by co-workers. Consider meeting someone for lunch to ask questions and learn more.

– Think about what you want to accomplish during the remainder of your internship. Are you hoping to gain experience in a certain area? Do you want to work on a special project? Do you have an idea for something new and innovative? You may have a chance to accomplish more than you think before your internship ends so brainstorm some ideas now.

– Document your progress in your internship. It can be helpful to have a detailed list outlining what you worked on during your internship so that you can craft strong accomplishment statements on your resume. Be mindful of any confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements you signed with your employer not to share any sensitive information but certainly track your projects and duties carefully to help you recall important details in the future.

– Consider who you may want to ask for references for future employment opportunities. If you already have one or more individuals in mind that is helpful. If you are not sure who to ask at this point, consider the possibilities to avoid having to track down candidates at the last minute. You do not need to ask for references during the middle of your internship but it may be a good idea to start thinking about who to ask at a later date.

Three Skills to Master During Your Job and Internship Search

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

While it can be helpful to consider your job or internship search as a process and create a plan to provide some structure to an otherwise “unstructured” process, consider mastering and utilizing the following three skills as your search unfolds.

Persistence. Some opportunities in life do not come easily. You can take the necessary steps and do the right things initially but that does not guarantee a successful outcome right away. Persistence may involve more effort and require additional work on your part, but that could be what’s necessary to secure your desired job or internship. Be careful – there is certainly a fine line with this as you should avoid extremes. Keep in mind that a lack of a timely response from an employer does not mean you are removed from consideration. Take the time to follow-up on your application – that extra step may be just what you need to get you closer to your goal.

Resiliency. Maintaining a positive attitude and moving forward after rejection can be difficult – especially if you have experienced it on multiple occasions. But your ability to bounce back, move forward and continue with your search can reveal positive things about your character. Life is not easy and we all encounter setbacks on occasion (we really do whether we like to admit it or not) – the search for jobs or internships is no different. Try to take a step back and reflect on the many things you have accomplished, the challenges you have overcome in the past and do your best to move forward in search of new opportunities.

Adaptability. Having a plan can be comforting – executing your plan as intended, even better. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? In these situations, consider adjusting your tactics or trying something new. Depending on the circumstances, the willingness and ability to alter your approach to your search may improve your fortunes.