Inside the United Nations, Bangkok

I embarked on an internship opportunity with the United Nations (UN) in Thailand to complement my Master of International Relations degree in mid-2016. I chose Asia for this opportunity to reinforce my course knowledge which has a strong emphasis on Australia in the Asian Century.

When I set out to work at the UN, I was determined to learn. I’d hoped to strengthen my understanding of the international political system, gain experience in development work, to enhance my CV.  

Since arriving in Bangkok, it has been challenging to grasp the full scope of work, targets and expected outcomes in the Environment and Development Policy Section (EDPS). As an intern, it took time to become fully involved in the day-to-day work of such a large organisation, but a recent development has led to a rewarding opportunity where I am reviewing mechanisms and actively contributing to natural resource management research reports. After several months I’ve finally started to do what I came here for; to learn.

Broadly speaking, the work of the UN Economic and Social Commission is to provide technical assistance to member states and facilitate the sharing of specialised policy advice throughout the region. Viewing the inner machinations of a far reaching political institution such as the UN has been revelatory, and the insights I have gained will continue to inform my future career. I’m impressed by the work and opportunities to collaborate and the range of international perspectives the collaboration brings together.

Like most jobs or internships, there are highs and lows. Experiences of engaging in compelling research work are tempered with the sense of being a small part of a vast organisation. My idealistic expectations may have been moderated, but I still consider myself extremely lucky to have had this opportunity.

I’ve completed half of my internship, and apart from the academic and professional outcomes, I’ve found the most valuable result has been to develop my cross-cultural communication skills, expand my professional network, and improve my understanding of the international political system. The perspectives I've gained from this experience will be invaluable in my future job hunt, and I hope the network I've built will be rewarding for my future career path.

Image: Graduating student Rupert Christie (B.A. 2014, MIR 2016) at the United Nations (UN), Thailand.