Wow, how time flies. It feels like I just arrived, but after three months I am proud to say I completed my internship with the gender equality division at UNESCO. To be honest, it came with challenges, but I am grateful for every single one of them because it taught me new things about myself, international development, and working for a huge organization.
When I was determining what kind of internship I wanted, I made a list of what I was looking for. I put two things on that list that I really wanted. The first was to work for a big organization. In the past I had worked in all sectors (public, private and non-profit) but I had never worked for a large international relations organization and I wanted a first-hand look into what that might be like. Second, I wanted to work in an area that I am passionate about. That limited but important criteria led me to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, to work in the gender equality division.
Working for a huge organization like UNESCO comes with its perks and challenges. The community is diverse and many brilliant minds come together to work on projects that are really trying to make a difference in the world. This is something that I have cherished while working at UNESCO. However, due to it’s large size, many things get stalled while going through protocol or getting approved. When I first learned about all the formalities, I thought this would be incredibly frustrating. Instead, I have actually learned to settle into it and be more patient. I have a very North American work ethic, so waiting to get things done was never a strength of mine. However, understanding that different people and cultures have different perceptions of time has been a great learning experience for me and it has made me more patient and iterate as new information comes up.
In the short time I have been at UNESCO, I have done many different things and I have gained a lot of confidence in my abilities. I have represented my division at international conferences, I have written speeches for both the Director General, created summaries, graphs and policy briefs on topics and recommended further steps for action. I have a funny feeling I will be back at UNESCO soon, but until I know for sure, it’s been a wonderful experience living and working in Paris and for an incredible organization.