Mariya Khoronzhevych

Peace and Conflict Transformation - master Tromsø Centre for Peace Studies (CPS)

Mariya Khoronzhevych

Peace and Conflict Transformation - master Tromsø

My experience as an intern at the United Nations headquarters in New York

The idea of interning at the United Nations came to me when I decided to apply for Peace Studies. I was concerned about whether I was competitive enough for the UN: I always thought that these internships were for someone very experienced in the field of international relations, I but decided to try anyway and my second attempt was a success.

I was thrilled upon receiving the offer, even though I was chosen by the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA). My only knowledge on these issues had come from MPCT lectures and those electives I took in international relations. This is why for the first few of weeks of interning I kept my ears and eyes open (and my mouth shut most of the time) and tried to absorb as much information as possible.

I worked for the Information and Outreach Branch of the ODA and my everyday task was to produce the daily Disarmament Digest, a collection of articles on disarmament topics, such as weapons of mass destruction, arms trade and smuggling, new technologies etc. This was perfect as it quickly made me knowledgeable in the field. The Digest was sent to subscribers around the world, including foreign ministries and the White House in Washington. I also worked on translations using my Russian, attended and wrote summaries of conferences and on many other tasks asked for ODA employees.

I had a great supervisor, who spent a lot of time telling us about work of the ODA and the UN, his own experience and all those things that you would neither read in newspapers nor see on TV. He encouraged interns to attend as many meetings of the General Assembly as possible and would always explain things to us during these. I know that not all the supervisors are so attentive and I consider myself lucky.

I loved every single day of my internship; it was hard to hold the tears back when it came time to say goodbye. This internship gives a unique opportunity for students to get first-hand experience of the United Nations: not from books and newspapers, but as an inside observer and participant. The knowledge acquired from your educational establishment is used on an everyday basis, and multiplied several times.

Socializing and making friends with other interns, experiencing New York together and making plans for the future is also an important part of being an intern at the UNHQ. Other interns are very intelligent: a lot of them speak up to seven languages. The majority of them come from international relations, human rights and law backgrounds. I did not seen any other peace student like myself. Everyone was interested in this and asked me questions about the MPCT programme. Being a MPCT student and my international experience were the main points that interested my supervisor when he was choosing interns.

I found it interesting that being a peace student automatically made me a 'specialist' in DDR: if someone asked what DDR was my supervisor forwarded them to me. I would definitely say that all the knowledge I acquired from the CPS classes and through other activities arranged by the CPS, like meetings with Noble Peace Prize winners, guest lecturers, etc., provided me with a decent knowledge base. And the things I did not know I learnt pretty fast while working at the UN.

Last changed: 19.02.2020 10.31