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My internship at the United Nations

By Maierwei ( Updated: 2014-06-17 10:06

Some practical notes about my internship at UNESCAP (Economic Social Commission for Asia Pacific) subregional office. This post is more about my reflections, and I will give more general info to those who are interested in interning or working within the UN in the next one.

Being a fervent critic of the UN during my undergrad years, I decided to do an internship to see how a UN office functions and to witness how UN projects are carried out.

I remember the presentation I made on my last Friday, and my flight was on Saturday, just the day after. I had only half a day before starting to work, and half a day before coming back.Having landed in a new country in the evening and started my internship the following day, I can say I learned a lot about life in general during my stay in Korea. My internship experience was a great life lesson. And on my final presentation, I felt I had to mention it:

"I'd like to share the life lesson I derived from my internship. Honestly speaking, I was frustrated during the first few weeks, because my expectations were very different. Then I noticed, life is not about setting a target and going towards it. Of course it's good to know what you want, but it's not that there is an apple over there and you have to go get it. There are lots of bananas, oranges and grapes on the way and they are as delicious as the apple. Maybe there is no apple at all!"

People found my analogy of fruits funny, and started laughing. And the end of my presentation, the youngest and newest recruit, a beautiful and smart environmental affairs officer asked:

"You mentioned your frustration and that life is not about reaching an apple. What was 'the apple' for you?"

“I was just hungry,” I replied. “I knew I had to eat, and it looked like there could be some fruits here.”

And yes, there were fruits and candies indeed. Our office was a very casual one, so when people weren’t overwhelmed with projects they walked to the “sweet table” and grabbed some sweets or snacks. Whenever someone returned from a mission, they brought some specialties from that place and put on that table to share with everyone.

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