January 19, 2018, by Naomi Imms

My First Taste of International Affairs at the UN

By Hemanth Kalathuru, final year, economics

Are you interested in undertaking work experience in another country, but worried about cost? The International Work Experience Grant can offer up to £750 to support you.

Designed to help students take up work experience opportunities they might not otherwise be able to afford, the grant will support expenses such as accommodation, travel and visas, living costs and vaccinations.

In this blog we meet Hemanth Kalathuru, a final-year economics undergraduate who used the grant towards an internship with the UN in Washington D.C.

Can you give us some details of your placement?

I travelled to Washington D.C. in America to pursue my internship at the United Nations Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) headquarters.

My role entailed research on statistical analysis software called AirQ+, which is used to measure air pollution in cities across Europe. The internship exposed me to the field of international affairs and built my confidence. I met colleagues from all over the world, and had opportunities to attend high-level political meetings.

How did you discover and secure your placement?

I found the opportunity through the United Nations Inspira Portal, which is the UN’s main HR Portal for internships around the world. When I initially applied, I asked the Careers and Employability Service for feedback on my CV and covering letter. They also helped me prepare for my online interview questions.

What was your greatest achievement on placement?

My greatest achievement was being selected as a youth delegate for the UN and getting the opportunity to represent my country for the Summer Youth Assembly Conference 2017-18. The conference dealt with refugee issues, human rights and climate change.

I also made a proposal to the executive management to introduce a monthly subsistence allowance for all interns in the PAHO regional office. The proposal has been taken into consideration for upcoming internships in 2018.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I faced was my nervousness in preparing for formal meetings with the executive management to pitch my proposal. To overcome my fear, I contacted the executive secretaries beforehand to ask their advice on approaching these meetings.

Which three top tips would you give someone else thinking of doing a placement abroad?

  1. Always read up on the country you’re going to. Being aware of cultural differences will help you integrate into the environment.
  2. Never ever be afraid to ask questions. Asking for help when you need it, whether from colleagues or your supervisor, is essential in order to progress.
  3. Open a LinkedIn account. This will help you network within the organisation and keep track of contacts afterwards.

Interested in pursuing work experience abroad? We have plenty of advice on where to look for opportunities and how to prepare before going.

Find out more about the International Work Experience Grant and how it could help you fund a placement overseas by visiting this webpage

Posted in International Work Experience GrantWork experience