Ever wonder what it's like to be an intern for the World Food Programme?
Maude, a student at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, studying International History and Politics, has spent the past six months as a Public Information Intern in the WFP office in Geneva, Switzerland.
Here's her story.
When people hear about the United Nations in Geneva, they think about a world aside, of which only privileged people can be part of. Therefore, when I saw WFP internship offer on the internal website of my university in Switzerland, I immediately sent out my application. I wanted to see with my own eyes how this world really functions and how UN agencies such as WFP work. After a six months internship in Public Relations, I do feel privileged to have contributed to WFP’s great cause and I hope to spend my career defending such a noble cause.
As I was finishing my master thesis in international studies, I also wanted to complete my training with a practical experience. Since I had already done internships in the NGOs sector, applying for an internship at WFP in order to acquire an experience within a UN agency was the right choice for me. I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn about the UN system and humanitarian work before heading to the field.
The WFP liaison office in Geneva counts less than ten staffs and interns, with whom it was a real pleasure to collaborate with. The office is located within the United Nations office in Europe. This implies that it has a lot of contact with other UN agencies and member states. Because of the international particularity of Geneva, numerous NGOs and other organisations such as the ICRC also have offices in the city which raises the interest to work here.
It was particularly exciting to be part of the UN staff and be able to go to the Palais des Nations several times a week for important high level meetings and press conferences. During my time at WFP, I had the chance to see personalities such as Ban Ki-moon, Gordon Brown or Joseph Deiss. WFP Deputy Executive Directors as well as field staff such as Regional Directors or Country Directors also often come to Geneva. Meeting such interesting people and organizing different events for the PI section made my work different and exciting every day.
As a PI intern, I was responsible for several tasks: apart from daily tasks requested by the Geneva PI Officer (such as promoting Freerice in French or writing an article for the UN Magazine), I was responsible for monitoring the media and covering the UN press briefings. During those bi-weekly briefings, UN Spokespersons brief the international media on news related activities or concerns. I have met during my stay in Geneva many spokespersons and journalists and I enjoyed being one of the first worldwide to have access to crucial information concerning topics such as the drought in the Horn of Africa or the situation in Libya.
One of my main tasks was also to organise events with other UN agencies and NGOs such as World Humanitarian Day. On the occasion of World Food Day, I was responsible to organise an exhibition at the Palais des Nations in collaboration with the FAO office in Geneva. Photos of WFP and FAO activities as well as products were shown to the public. Once set up, I was quite proud of the result and was surprised when about 80 people showed up for the opening ceremony during which WFP and FAO director of Geneva office as well as OCHA and UNOG representative made a speech.
Now that I’m making the handover to the next intern, I realise how much knowledge I have gained during my internship. It was a rewarding experience which will help me for my future career. Thanks to this experience, I was hired to start next year a traineeship with an important Swiss NGO in Tanzania.
Written by Maude Berset, Public Information Intern, WFP Geneva