Photo credit: UNICEF/UN0685096/Magray
By: Larissa Prata Varella, MIPP
Winter has turned to Spring here in Canada, which means that my remote internship with the UNESCO New Delhi Multisectoral Regional Office is coming to an end. In this final blog post, I would like to share my insights into what I believe makes the ideal candidate for this internship and what was my overall experience. Hopefully, this post will help future candidates!
My experience as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) with UNESCO New Delhi’s Education Sector has not been without some challenges. From a lengthy administrative process in 2021 to the trials of working remotely with a 9h30min time difference, I can confidently say this is not for the faint of heart. It takes a resilient person willing to be proactive and keep the energy up throughout the whole process – from the day you apply for the position to the last day of the internship. Either working remotely or in-person, JPCs are required to work in a multicultural setting; therefore, displaying high levels of cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age empathy and adaptability is crucial. In addition, as the departments deal with a vast array of projects with an abundance of stakeholders and have to meet institutional demands from the headquarters, it is essential to have strong communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively with minimum supervision both independently and as part of a team. As a JPC, you will be in control of your schedule to meet your supervisor’s demands, so having good self-management and organizational skills is extremely valuable.
If you feel you possess these characteristics, you may now be asking yourself, ‘is it really worth it?’. Short answer: yes! This internship has been a rewarding and motivational experience, both professionally and personally. In addition, it has given me an increased understanding of the dynamics of the UN system, particularly UNESCO’s mandate, policies, technical language and working procedures.
On a personal level, this experience has helped me achieve the dream of working within the UN system, which I had cultivated since starting my undergraduate program in 2011. I also feel like I gained a new sense of self-awareness. All of the opportunities I have had so far provided me with the perfect scenario for improving my collaborative skills and honing in the ability to better judge my knowledge and emotional intelligence to meet challenges.
Moreover, I am very fortunate to have virtually met some empathetic and supportive people who are committed to UNESCO’s mandate and devote their lives to supporting the provision of education for all in the region. These mentors, colleagues and fellow volunteers have fostered a genuinely positive learning environment that helped me grow professionally. Together we surpassed cultural and language barriers, improved our time management and organization skills, and maintained a somewhat consistent communication flow, which we learned takes different shapes for different people.
I still have one month left, but I can confidently say this experience was worth it, and I look forward to where my career takes me in the future. As for you, soon-to-be JPC, good luck and enjoy your new adventure!