Student stories

Working for United Nations Headquarters in NY

John Nsabimana

UNDP New York

Public Administration student John Nsabimana spent four months working at United Nations Headquarters in New York, where he gained considerable project management and teamwork experience working with the UNEP and the goverments of France and Costa Rica. He is now working as a Child Protection Associate with UNICEF's Armed Violence and Weapons Child Protection Section. Read on to learn about John's experiences in New York, and his plans for the future.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a Canadian citizen of Rwandan origin. What attracted me to MPA program is its reputation, the co-op opportunities and the program practical focus on applying policies to real world’s problem. 

2. How many co-op work terms have you completed?

This is my second co-op term in the program with the United Nations.

3. On your most recent work term, what was your job title and role, and what were your responsibilities?

I recently completed an internship at UNDP Headquarters in New York where I gained considerable project management and teamwork experience working with UNEP and the governments of France and Costa Rica on the post-2015 development agenda.

I am currently Child Protection Associate with UNICEF’s Armed Violence & Weapons Child protection Section/ Programme at UNICEF Headquarters. My work is focused on the issues related to small arms and light weapons, explosive remnants of war and other issues related to armed violence and security 

4. How closely did you work with your employer/supervisor?

As my work focuses on supporting the UNICEF Child Protection team on issues related to armed violence and other security issues by conducting research and drafting policy briefing notes on a variety of issues related to armed violence, I work very closely with the senior supervisor and a team of specialists.

5. What was the biggest surprise about your work term?

My biggest surprise about my work was when my boss travelled to London UK for meetings and I was able to represent UNICEF in the United General Assembly 68 Session on Arms Treaty. Also being assigned to an excellent MPA Capstone project. From January to April 2014, I have been assigned by the UNICEF Child Protection Division to look at the links tween the work of the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court with respect to child protection, including a review of the Optional Protocol on Children’s Involvement in Armed Conflict. This project will fulfill the capstone requirement of my MPA program, and will allow me to apply my professional and academic skills to the very issues to which I intend to dedicate my professional life.

6. How did your work term relate to your academic studies?

The MPA Program prepared me with the professional skills and knowledge necessary to undertake co-op term at the United Nations and especially advice on public policy making and implementing a wide range of contexts that we benefit from our very experienced professors who are experts in Governments and International Organizations.

My work term helped my career journey.  I got the opportunity to do co-ops in different UN Agencies and this helped me to develop a specialization suitable for a career with United Nations.

 7.  What made you excited about the job?

Being on a team of very dedicated, passionate and smart people working closely with world governments to end the suffering of children and their families caused by landmines and cluster munitions. The best thing of being a co-op student at the United Nations is that you have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world, to deal with main topics of international politics and enhance your experience. You also get to meet the United Nations Secretary General!

My co-op at the United Nations has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had so far, because it has provided an opportunity to learn how the UN works, how diplomacy works and has allowed me to contribute to the global governance at the highest level and of course to live in Manhattan! 

8. How did you use your core competencies in the workplace?

The MPA core competencies are reflective of the United Nations core values and competencies.  So having learned these skills in the MPA program helped me a lot in terms of how I work in a team or with everyone here.

9. What are your plans for the future?

A career with United Nations and especially UNICEF is the next step in my professional development

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