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Dispatch from the United Nations Development Programme in Fiji: István Kéry’s third blog from the field

Photo credit: István Kéry

By: István Kéry, MIPP student

I am proud to share that I have been offered a new contract with the UNDP Pacific Office as a Program Analyst! This contract will begin after the completion of my placement in UN Association of Canada’s (UNA-Canada) International Development & Diplomacy Internship Programmes (IDDIPs). I will be taking on this next role through the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme and International UN Volunteer Specialist volunteer category. I wanted to share this update to highlight the UNV programme as an avenue for anyone looking to pursue an international governance and policy career. UNV programme provides a breadth of opportunities in various volunteer categories for professionals from a range of backgrounds and with a range of career interests or specialties. When I was writing this dispatch, the UNV programme was advertising 112 international positions for multiple UN agencies with locations all over the world. Also, UNVs are entitled to benefits like a monthly living allowance, medical and other insurance, and leave entitlements. This is not the only modality to begin working for a UN agency or agencies, but it is a well-established starting point to a career path in this space with plenty of opportunities.

I am grateful for receiving this UNV contract, and I look forward to continuing my stay here in Suva. I am hoping I will be able to take on more ownership or responsibility over some components of the projects on which I have been working now that I am contracted by the UNDP Pacific Office. The combination of my educational background from the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the work I have been conducting for the last 3 months should have prepared me to take on new responsibilities within my team and the office as a whole. There are still a lot of operational processes and procedures that will take time for me to learn, but my team has provided me the space to learn these processes and procedures and has guided me along the way. Our team has an ambitious target of USD $44 million project delivery by the end of 2023, so I know it is going to be “all hands-on deck” and I want to help the best way I can as I transition into this new contract. I think there will be a lot of “learning by doing” as we work to achieve our annual goal, but I am eager to be involved in the process. I am also hoping I will have the opportunity to travel to other countries in the region. I would be grateful to join a scheduled mission to meet with national implementing partners and to participate in the development work being conducted in-country. It would be an honour to be welcomed to another country and support the work being conducted in order to further grow my understanding and knowledge of the region, its people, and their local contexts.

Starting this new contract also has important personal meaning. For one thing, I enjoy living in Fiji and I have made good friends during my time here. This UNV contract will give me more time to further grow these relationships and to appreciate my experience here Fiji and the Pacific region more fully. However, this contract also reaffirms and validates my decision from two and a half years ago to pivot my career path in order to find a path that fulfilled my ambitions. That journey began applying to the Master of International Public Policy (MIPP) program, and now, after completing the MIPP degree and a placement through UNA-Canada’s IDDIPs and receiving a UNV contract, I am at the brink of starting a position that is putting me on that path. So, to the many people who have helped me to get to this point, including the BSIA faculty and staff, MIPP peers and colleagues, UNA-Canada and UNDP Pacific Office staff, and my friends and family, I would like to say vinaka vaka levu (thank you so much)! And to any readers who are looking for insight on, or inspiration to, pursue a similar path, I want to reiterate that immersing yourself in an international work experience will not only lead to invaluable professional development, but also to meaningful personal growth that you will take with you in a career and beyond.

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