Photo of Kiev

Dispatch from the IOM in Ukraine: Haily Eggleston’s first blog from the virtual field

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By Haily Eggleston, MIPP

When I began looking at post-graduate study programs, the Master of International Public Policy (MIPP) program at the Balsillie School of International Affairs immediately caught my eye, so much so that it was the only program I applied for. There were a number of factors that led me to this decision, despite the risks that are inherent in only applying to one program. First of all, it was local, so I would not have to move cities for school (who would have known that COVID would have made this first point obsolete). Second, I liked that the program was more applied than theoretical, meaning there would not be a dissertation at the end of it. Third, and most importantly, the program offered the opportunity to complete an internship within the United Nations system. Having wanted to work within the UN system since the beginning of my undergraduate degree, when I saw this program offered this type of opportunity I jumped on it without hesitation.

Fast forward two years and here I am in the beginning stages of my internship at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Kiev, Ukraine. At first, I was a little disappointed to be doing this internship remotely. I worried that I would not get the same experience completing it online as I would were it in person. I worried that I would not be given many tasks to complete and would be almost forgotten about. I worried that I would have difficulties completing tasks I did receive because I wouldn’t have the same level of guidance that I would if I were in an office. In essence, I worried…a lot. But it was all for naught.

The team at IOM Ukraine have been very welcoming and helped to dissipate all of my worries. I was able to participate in a virtual staff meeting where I met the rest of the policy, liaison and programme development team (the department I am interning in) and learned about the priorities of the department. This really set the stage for me since I felt like I was included from the outset and that I was a valued member of the team. Since then, I have been tasked with a number of assignments such as proofreading the newly drafted Strategic Results Framework document and compiling a draft bi-monthly report for the regional office with inputs received from all units. The biggest task I have been given though has been the data mapping exercise of the organization’s private sector and civil society engagement. However, I am still in the preliminary stages of the project, so I don’t have much to report about it yet.

All is to say that despite having to complete this internship virtually, it has still shaped up to be everything I had hoped for when I applied to the MIPP program two years ago. I have been warmly welcomed into my new team, I have been given meaningful tasks to complete that contribute to the mission mandate, and I have already learned a lot. Yes, COVID may have changed how I thought my internship would unfold. But being flexible and adaptable are important skills for any position, especially one within the UN system.

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