My internship at the U.N. Office in Geneva

img_8014Name: Jose Sirven

Major: International Relations and Honors College

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Where you interned: The U.N. Office in Geneva, Switzerland (UNOG)

What did you do there? I was selected to represent the United States at the World Federation of United Nations Associations’ Human Rights Youth Training 2016 this Summer. I met students from all over the World – Uganda, Denmark, Georgia, Jordan, and more – to discuss human rights and the role that the United Nations and its mechanisms play in advancing human rights. I am currently implementing a human rights project in South Florida using the Project Cycle Management method used by the United Nations, as we were trained to do.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? I was able to shake hands with the people doing the work that I had only been reading about in books. It really put the difficult and sometimes discouraging day-to-day work of diplomats and international humanitarians in perspective.

What was the coolest thing that happened during your internship? Visiting the U.N. Office in Geneva and seeing all of the places that I have only seen in pictures like the Human Rights Council, the Red Cross Headquarters, and learning how citizens like you and me can lobby countries to advance human rights through the UPR process.

What did you like most about your experience? Meeting and making friends with like-minded individuals from all over the world with different perspectives and amazing accomplishments in their respective communities. Oh, and being able to practice my French!

What did you learn about yourself? I learned I belong in the international arena and that I thrive outside of my comfort zone.

How did the position increase your professional confidence?It gave me experiences that very few people have, and it taught me how to communicate with people from different cultures with different ideas. I learned the importance of listening without judgement.

How did you expand your professional network? Networking with professionals from all over the world. Sparking conversations out in the city with government officials, in the UNOG lunch room as well as speaking to diplomats from the Netherlands and Lebanon.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” It gave me an international perspective and a compassion unique to dealing with people from all over the world.

How did you get your internshipAsking. I sent many cold emails asking for advice on how to get involved to the Free and Equal campaign staff at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office. They connected me the The United Nations Association of the United States of America, and I applied to the program.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Ask! Ask! Ask! Listen! Listen! Listen! And make friends every where you go!