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Environmental Management & Sustainability Science

Internship at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Internship at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Everything started when my flat mate, tired of sharing my frustration of not finding the internship that I was dreaming for, decided to help me in the research. Here comes the incredible. After I spent months trying to find the best experience in the most exciting institution, she only needed one night to come out with what I can now state has definitively been one of the most relevant experience of my life.

First step, the application. Most of the UN Agencies offer internship programs and I believe the application processes are similar. As regards the UNFCCC, the application procedure is described on the official web page of the Agency. Once I forwarded my CV, cover letter and references it took almost two months to receive the official acceptance. Afterwards I realized what is behind the selection process and here are some tips. Deadlines are not that strict, although they clearly indicate them on the website. Once you apply, your candidacy remains in the “intern roster” for almost one year and you cannot predict when they will offer you an assignment. The candidacy is generic and all the departments pick interns from the same database. It is not possible to apply for a specific program or assignment. My suggestion is first to enter the roster as soon as possible in order to let them have time to evaluate your profile and secondly to keep your fingers crossed until the end because, trust me, it takes time.

Besides the application process, I want to spend few words about the experience itself. I have been warmly welcomed by the Secretariat and it is clear that they are used to have interns. They know how to guide you in order to make the most out of the experience. Luckily the period of my internship coincided with the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties and thanks to my supervisors I had the chance to attend the conference and some of the international negotiations that took place under the SABSTA and SBI processes. My main task was related to a mapping activity that allowed me to obtain a quite broad overview on worldwide climate change mitigation actions targeting developing countries. Thanks to my assignment I also managed to get in contact with several different stakeholders that gravitate around the global support flows for sustainable development. Effort and commitment are required in order to get the most out of a unique experience like this but, at least in my case, it paid back pretty quickly. Indeed, at the end of the three months internship I decided to submit my application to the consultants’ roster (that works basically like the one for interns) and I got lucky for the second time. Two months after the end of my internship I received a job offer as an external consultant.

It is definitively a path that I suggest to give a try. You might need a bit of luck but, on the other hand, nothing happens without trying.

Davide Cassanmagnago